The Holidays Will Look Different This Year, and That’s OK

As we approach the winter holidays during this unprecedented year, many families are eschewing typical traditions — family gatherings, dinners, travel and parties — in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19, especially older relatives and those with pre-existing conditions.

While the pandemic makes it inevitable this holiday season will look different from previous ones, that doesn’t mean planning around our “new normal” has to be stressful. Here are a few tips to help you plan a 2020 holiday that’s both safe and fun.

Scale Back and Relax

According to Next Avenue, since this pandemic has practically mandated we decline to gather in each other’s homes, or travel across the country, or attend parties this year, we should be able to do so without feeling guilty. The same goes for taking a break from holiday preparations and scaling down our traditional decorations, gifts and food. Remember: this year, a simpler holiday is a safer one.

Plan for Future Get-Togethers

According to the AP, new holiday traditions are popping up all over, with many people calling friends and family and proposing that this year, instead of exchanging gifts in-person, they plan to get together to celebrate once it’s safe again. In the year of the pandemic, future gatherings, even months from now, can be something hopeful to look forward to.

If You Gather, Do It Safely

These suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control on attending social gatherings are essential for anyone planning to see family and friends over the holidays. First, stay outdoors as much as possible, and if you must remain indoors, make sure the space is ventilated. Remind guests to stay home if sick and to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible. And of course, be vigilant about hand washing. Finally, try elbow bumps instead of hugs!

Take Precautions When Traveling

If you are planning on traveling this holiday season, The Washington Post recommends restricting your movements to a short car ride with only people from your household (car travel is safer than plane travel when it comes to the coronavirus) and avoiding stops along the way where you may be exposed to other people. If you must fly, nonstop flights would be a good choice.

Be Aware of the Risks

If you do plan on gathering this holiday season, this breakdown from the AARP provides a helpful overview of safety measures. If you don’t feel comfortable, consider planning a virtual event like a game night with family over Zoom, connecting with memes over social media, or arranging a video chat with far-flung family. Whether you’re celebrating virtually or in-person, we wish you have a healthy, happy holiday!