Adapt traditions to safely celebrate the holidays
The holidays are a cherished time for celebrating with family and friends and are filled with annual traditions.
This year, the pandemic has forced us to make changes to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. For safety, traditions will need to be adapted or put on hold until next year.
Even though we’re all wishing for normalcy and in-person connection, we can still have fun and find meaningful ways to safely celebrate with each other.
In challenging times like these, it can be helpful to focus on the spirit of the holiday season rather than on specific activities.
To help you enjoy the holidays, we share 8 creative and festive ideas for celebrating together in safer ways.
8 tips for a festive, fun, and safe holiday season
1. Plan a virtual gift exchange and opening party
Coordinate with family and mail or drop off gifts to each other ahead of time. Then, when it’s time to open gifts, everyone can open them together during a group video call.
2. Help seniors with gift shopping
Many older adults are limiting outings and shopping to avoid exposure to Covid-19 and aren’t tech-savvy.
Consider asking your older adult if they’d like your help to buy gifts online or to pick up a few items in store so they can still give gifts and won’t need to physically go shopping themselves.
3. Decorate the house, make DIY decorations, or do a decoration exchange
Putting up holiday-themed decorations around the house is a fun activity and will instantly brighten the space.
You could also do a decoration exchange with family and friends by making some simple, fun decorations and mailing or dropping them off to family and friends to spread the cheer.
If they’re interested, ask them to make some decorations as well and send them to you. It’s a safe way to have some holiday fun together and virtually have a small presence in each other’s homes.
Try these festive DIY Christmas and Hanukkah decor ideas:
- Salt dough ornaments – make your own ornaments for Christmas or Hanukkah with a few simple household ingredients
- Candy cane wreath – make a festive wreath with candy canes, peppermint candies, and glue
- Holiday card tree – arrange holiday cards in a tree shaped pattern on the wall
- Candy cane garland and candles – candy canes make a beautiful garland as well as give candles some holiday cheer
- Honeycomb wreath – upcycle toilet paper and paper towel rolls to create a beautiful honeycomb style wreath
- Gold gelt garland – use glue and lightweight plastic gelt to make a festive garland
- Paper Star of David napkin rings – a simple DIY adds to a festive table setting
- Paper dreidel garland – this festive garland is made with just paper and string
- Paper tube menorah – upcycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls can transform into a lovely menorah
4. Send holiday cards or letters to family and friends
Sending a thoughtful written card or letter is another way to express love, gratitude, and caring during the holiday season.
If there’s enough time to coordinate the group, everyone could send cards or letters to each other ahead of time and open them all together during a group video call.
5. Organize a virtual family meal
This year, minimize risk by moving the celebration online and organizing a virtual gathering.
Even if it’s not the same as being in the same room, setting up a group video chat still allows everyone to be together.
To help things go smoothly, test your chosen virtual gathering method ahead of time to work out any technical snags.
To improve the video conferencing experience, consider:
- Enlarging your viewing screen by using your TV as a computer monitor
- Using a laptop or tablet instead of a smartphone
- Using a larger smart display device like the Amazon Echo Show with 8 inch display, Facebook Portal Plus with 15.6 inch display, or Google Nest Hub Max with 10 inch display
Note: To include older adults who aren’t able to set up or use technology devices due to dementia or other health conditions, we’ve got detailed suggestions for how to video chat with them here.
And here are a variety of ways to gather virtually.
Group video calls:
- Jitsi Meet – a fully encrypted video conferencing solution that you can use all day, every day, for free, with no account needed
- Zoom – here’s a helpful video tutorial on using Zoom with multiple people, their group video calls are free for 40 minutes (hint: start a new call after 40 minutes)
- Google Meet – anyone with a Google Account can create a video meeting, invite up to 100 participants, and meet for up to 60 minutes per meeting for free.
- UberConference – free videoconferencing with no PINs or downloads needed
Free one-on-one video calls:
If video doesn’t work for everyone, set up a free conference call telephone line so everyone can dial in and hear each other.
Free conference call services:
6. Collaborate on the big holiday meal
For those living near each other, you can still collaborate on the big holiday meal even if you can’t all eat together in person by organizing a meal or dish exchange among different households.
Work together to decide on a menu, then have each household sign up to make one or more dishes.
After preparing the dishes, pack them into food storage containers and distribute portions to each household on the day you’ve chosen for the big meal.
Later that day, everyone can gather virtually and enjoy their meals together.
Or, make the meal more of a shared experience by deciding on a menu together and agreeing on which recipes to use.
Then, everyone can cook the same meal and enjoy it together, even in separate households.
7. Order a fully-cooked meal and/or send a gift of food
This year has been stressful and exhausting. Give yourself more time to relax by cutting back on the holiday cooking.
Instead of cooking all the special holiday dishes, order food from a local restaurant or grocery store, either an entire holiday dinner or just the favorites.
And for family or friends, local or far away, sending their favorite dishes is a wonderful gift.
Ordering from local restaurants is also a wonderful way to support small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
For nationwide delivery, here are some delicious ideas:
- Make it easy by ordering an entire fully-cooked holiday meal: entree, sides, and dessert from these grocery stores and restaurants
- Goldbelly offers a wide variety of holiday dishes from popular restaurants across the country
- Omaha Steaks has complete holiday dinners featuring prime rib, spiral-sliced ham, and chateaubriand steak
- Order sweet treats for dessert – these options all look delicious
- Seafood lovers might want to order a fresh lobster dinner from one of these top lobster delivery services
If you enjoy baking, consider mailing your homemade goods to family ahead of time so they can enjoy them during the holiday season.
And even if you’re not able to eat together, everyone will enjoy the baked goods and know that you were thinking of them.
Things that ship well include sturdy cookies (wrap them individually), bar cookies, brownies, and quick breads. Here are some helpful tips on shipping food from the USPS.
8. Gather for a festive outdoor meal
One way to safely eat the big holiday meal together is to gather outdoors, if weather permits.
Set up tables and chairs in the backyard or the driveway so you can enjoy eating together in the well-ventilated outdoor air.
To keep at least 6 feet of distance and minimize touching, set up separate tables, serving platters, utensils, and condiments for each household.
And to keep everyone as safe as possible, ask everyone to wear face masks when they’re not actively eating and drinking. This is important because you’re all in close proximity for an extended period of time, even if you’re all outside.
Some ideas to make outdoor dining more comfortable in cold weather:
- Eat at the warmest time of day
- Ask everyone to dress in their warmest clothing / wear thermal underwear
- Have everyone bring a thick blanket or sleeping bag to wrap themselves in
- Pass out hand warmers for everyone to keep in their pockets
- Use an outdoor patio heater or fire pit to warm the space
- Use a space heater on an extension cord
For older adults with health concerns, consider having them sit partially indoors so they’ll be warmer and protected from wind.
For example, a setup that might work well is having them sit inside the doorway of a heated garage and having other tables 6 feet away, just outside the garage.
Note: At least 3 sides of the space must be open to provide enough ventilation to reduce the spread of Covid-19, so having everyone sit inside the garage with the door open isn’t recommended.
Recommended for you:
- The Big List of Best Gifts for Seniors
- Best Way to Make Video Calls to Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia in Nursing Homes
- 8 Shelter-in-Place Coronavirus Tips for Senior Care in Your Home
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain some affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.