Tips on How to Have COVID-19 Safe Holiday Season

By: Katherine Millsaps – Epidemiology

I’m sure everyone expected the world would have been back to “normal” by the time holidays came around when word first came out about the COVID-19 pandemic reaching the United States. We have all had time to adjust to virtual platforms for learning and working but how can we make this holiday season just as meaningful while making sure to keep ourselves and our loved-ones safe? 

  1. Virtual vs In-Person 
    • According to the CDC, people who should not attend in-person holiday events include anyone who has or has been exposed to COVID-19 and those who are at an increased risk for severe illness (those that fall into one of the risk groups). 
    • Consider setting up a zoom meeting and connecting it to a TV to allow all loved-ones to be in the space they feel the most safe. This will allow for households to connect without the physical risks. You could plan and share the menu so you are all eating the same things as well! 
    • If you opt for an in-person event, you should consider setting up some ground rules for attendees. Such as, getting Covid tests, practicing social distancing at the event, wearing masks at the event, quarantining 14 days prior to the event, etc. It’s important to create a space everyone can feel safe in to enjoy the holiday spirit. 
  2. Traveling 
    • There is more of a risk for COVID spread when people gather from all over the country. It might be better to consider having people who live in the same area gather together and having a zoom set up for loved-ones who live farther away. Traveling across the country this year would be very risky and should be avoided. 
  3. Charity Work/ Volunteering 
    • Usually, the holiday season is a common time for people to be engaged in community service work. Rather than volunteering time in spaces that have large amounts of human contact, think about changing your service project to an environmental one. Get out there and plant some trees or pick up some trash! 
    • Donations instead of volunteer time. Dropping off toys, supplies, food or money to shelters and organizations that are helping the less-fortunate would be a safer option this holiday season. Reach out to the organization you are considering donating to and ask what items are in the highest demand! 
  4. Large Religious Gatherings 
    • This year, it is probably best to skip in-person religious events and see if they offer a virtual alternative, most religious groups have COVID-19 ritual information on their websites. Even if these events are hosted outdoors, large gathering of humans packed together is very risky. You can still have the connection with your Higher Power from the comfort of your home surrounded by those you love. 
  5. Decorating 
    • My favorite part of the holiday season is setting the mood for celebrations and spending quality time with my immediate family members decorating the tree and the yard. If your neighborhood typically has a massive holiday party, a fun alternative would be to propose a yard decorating contest. Pick a day all the decorating must stop and a house that has a ballet box/bucket in the yard. Allow everyone to drive by with their household (hopefully with holiday music and hot coco) and place votes for the best house on the block! This will give you the feeling of community you might feel is missing while maintaining safe COVID practices. 

For more information on holiday-safety here are some resources: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

https://www.stamfordhealth.org/healthflash-blog/infectious-disease/celebrate-safely-this-holiday-season/

https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/how-to-have-a-safe-holiday-season-during-covid-19-pandemic