As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, health experts are recommending that we think twice about celebrating the upcoming fall and winter holidays with extended family.
Those who are at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults and those with diabetes, heart conditions and other illnesses, should steer clear of traditional holiday celebrations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. And, of course, anybody who has been diagnosed with COVID or exposed to somebody with the illness also should skip holiday gatherings to avoid passing a potentially fatal illness to others, the federal agency says.
But, for the rest of us, it’s important to keep in mind that COVID doesn’t take a break for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s Eve. The coronavirus can easily spread at Christmas Eve dinners and New Year’s Day brunches just as it can at college fraternity parties.
If you must gather, the CDC recommends meeting outside, keeping a social distance, wearing masks and limiting the number of people who attend. You also should consider the COVID rates in your community and in the communities where your guests may be traveling from to gauge the risk of contracting the illness.
But not seeing Grandpa Stan and Great Aunt Jocelyn in person doesn’t mean that they need to be cut entirely from your holiday celebrations. Here are four ways to celebrate the holidays with friends and family virtually.
Get in the kitchen
Cooking together is part of many people’s holiday celebrations, and while you might not be able to be at the kitchen counter together, you can still connect with loved ones via Zoom, FaceTime or another video chat service.
With your kids, dial up Grandma as you make her favorite cookie recipe. With Grandpa, cook up his favorite pot of chili. While you’re at it, ask them about the history of the recipe, how they celebrated the holidays as kids and what they remember about the holidays while they were raising their own kids.
Romper has other ideas for sparking virtual conversations between kids and older family members, including reading bedtime stories, which could be holiday themed; learning something new from each other; and singing songs, such as Christmas carols, together.
Play a game
Aunt Susan might not come over for the annual, epic game of Monopoly this year, but you can still play games with loved ones virtually.
Common Sense Media has a long list of ways to socialize at a distance. They include game apps that can be played together from anywhere and board games that can be played together when everybody has the same actual game at home. Good Housekeeping has more ideas of fun virtual games to play on Zoom.
Send out care packages
At my house, we always send out a care package to far-flung relatives who aren’t able to make it for holiday celebrations. This year, we’ll be sending them out again and stuffing them with more goodies for family members who have been mostly on their own during the pandemic.
We like to include packaged gourmet foods or homemade Christmas candies and treats that will hold up for a few days in the mail. Craftsy has a list of baked goods that can be shipped. Puzzles, word games or a great book that you just read and think your loved one will enjoy are other ideas. Real Simple has some more.
But, usually, the best gifts are the ones that come from the heart, whether it’s a handwritten note or a few pictures your kids created. This year, it might be fun to schedule a video call to watch as your loved one opens the care package, so you can see their reaction and chat about what’s inside.
Plan a party
Zoom works for conference calls and, as many of us have found out during the pandemic, parties with our closest friends and families. Book clubs, old school friends and extended families have been using video conference technologies to stay in touch. Why not consider it for holiday celebrations too? Taste of Home has some tips for how to host a virtual party, including recommendations on what platform to use and possible activities, including show and tell and a talent show.
These are challenging times, and families will need to make some difficult decisions about how they’ll celebrate the holidays together this year. The good news is this: With technology and a little creativity, Grandma can still watch the grandkids open their Christmas presents, the cousins can still play games with each other and, together, you can continue to make some holiday memories.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY