In early 2020, news broke out about an infectious disease that began in Wuhan, China. It was caused by a newly discovered coronavirus and named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
It spread so rapidly and widely that it soon became a global pandemic. Countries began closing their borders and issuing stay-at-home orders. Among the other measures taken were COVID testing, social distancing, and the requirement of wearing facemasks in public.
Countries instituted local lockdowns to prevent the virus from spreading. While this course of action could save lives, it had a severe economic and psychological impact on citizens.
People have lost jobs and their livelihoods. Many experienced the loss of a loved one to the disease. However, as difficult as it can be, the human spirit continues to beat all odds.
What COVID Means for Holidays
When we hear of holidays, we usually picture happy families and friends getting together for a meal and having fun. That’ll change this year for many people depending on their state's COVID condition and experience as well as CDC guidelines around how to have a safe holiday season.
After a stressful period of being in isolation, most people would look forward to the festive season. It’s an opportunity to meet and reconnect with relatives and buddies. Such events, however, in many cases are subject to government regulations and policies across the country.
If there’s a lockdown, social gatherings are likely to be prohibited. Traveling might be out of the question in most cases. It’ll mean that we’ll have to find ways to celebrate as a family without being in the same house.
There’s the possibility that your state or local government may lift stay-at-home orders. If that happens, get-togethers would be possible with limited numbers of attendees, ideally outdoors, as we still need to practice social distancing. It’s not perfect, but it’ll allow merry-making on a lower scale.
It all comes down to individuals to make the best of their state.
How to Safely Celebrate Holidays (in Person)
Before you plan to host or attend any festivities, it’s very important to understand the COVID situation in your vicinity. You can then assess the risk of infection from your planned event or make sure that you are limiting the gathering to just your immediate household. You may access the information about the cases in your community from the local health authority and the CDC has several recommendations as well.
It would help if you also considered where the other attendees are coming from. Find out the state of COVID in their area.
There’s also the risk of exposure while they’re traveling. Public places such as airports, trains and bus stations are high-risk contamination spots because of travelers' massive volume passing through them.
Note that the CDC disapproves of indoor or large functions. They have introduced guidelines for curbing the disease’s spread within small gatherings because they claim that these get-togethers are a significant contributor to the rise in infections.
If you’re going ahead with your plans to celebrate a holiday, it’s advisable to have the bash outdoors. There’s better ventilation, which lowers the risk of the virus spreading compared to an indoor party and it’s still the safest to have your guests wear masks even when they’re outdoors.
Limit the number of participants. Ensure that there’s enough room for everyone to maintain a safe distance from one another.
Wear a face mask. It’s not convenient because you’re eating and drinking, but it’ll keep everyone safe if you unknowingly have the disease. However, removing the cover to consume food and drinks can pose a danger to others.
Keep the duration of the event short. The longer the function, the higher the risk of infection.
Avoid serving alcohol to partygoers as too much consumption can affect their judgment and cause behavior that poses a risk to those around them.
Inform your invitees to act responsibly. If they are infected with COVID or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, they should not attend your function. It’s also advisable that you invite people who share the same view of the situation so that everyone adheres to the precautionary measures.
As a responsible host, you should provide masks and hand sanitizers and advise your friends to use them.
Ways to Celebrate from a Distance (virtually)
Technological advances have made it easier for everyone to connect with others through the internet. Video conferencing services such as Google Meet and Zoom allow groups to get together from the comfort of their homes. The only requirement is that all guests have a fast internet connection.
One key advantage of a virtual get-together is that you can have a large group. The number of attendees is limited only by the platform used or your subscription package.
There’s also the freedom from not having to wear masks. Guests don’t have to commute and risk being in public places. It’s a very safe way to celebrate a holiday.
Participants will be able to chat, play games, and have fun. Except for physical contact, it’ll be like any party. You could decide on a theme and inform your guests. They can dress up and decorate their room based on the agreed concept. It’ll look like everyone’s at the same event.
There are numerous activities you can organize to keep your online function exciting and enjoyable. You can have everyone sit at their dinner table with their laptops and have a meal simultaneously.
There’s no reason why you can’t continue the tradition. Everyone can say Grace and take turns saying what they’re grateful for. If it’s Thanksgiving, you can carve the turkey on video. Everyone will have to eat the bird they’ve prepared, though, since you can’t pass the meat around.
You can even watch movies together. Put on your creative hat or brainstorm with your invitees. Get more tips by checking out websites that offer suggestions.
Ideas for New Traditions
No one can predict when the COVID crisis will be over. Until then, it’s time for us to adapt to what many are calling the ‘new normal.’
With the many restrictions in place, it’ll be challenging to observe tradition in the way we’re used. That doesn’t mean we can’t start new practices.
Besides being confined because of a pandemic, there are also situations when families live apart after children move away to pursue their careers.
Video conferencing enables families to celebrate all holidays and special events without the need to gather physically. Mobile phones allow people to record their activities ‘live’. Traditions like choosing a Christmas tree can now be observed by everyone in the family regardless of their location.
Another idea is for people to take turns to host and organize events. It’ll allow everyone to play an important role instead of always being a participant. Also, there’ll always be something new to look forward to, rather than a repeated ritual.
COVID Holiday Ideas for Kids
Children have not been spared the stress of being confined. As much as family time is necessary, kids need to interact with people their age.
It may not be advisable to go trick-or-treating at Halloween, but the little ones can still dress up. Parents can coordinate a video call so that the tots can show off their costumes to their friends.
Adults can play Santa and entertain groups of young ones while they’re safely at home with their parents. Video effects can be added to create a fantastic experience.
Celebrating Holidays During a Pandemic
Holidays can be fun regardless of any situation. All it takes is a determination to make it the way you want it to be. Ideas abound, and today we have the technology to remove the barriers of distance. It’s now possible to celebrate any event and stay safe while in a pandemic.