How to celebrate the holidays in a pandemic

How to celebrate the holidays in a pandemic

It has been a rough year for some, thanks to COVID-19. Students have given up graduation. Many have forfeited birthdays and anniversaries. Children have given up traditional classroom settings and many are learning virtually. You might even be reading this while working from home.

Many people have adapted and figured out a good system that works to protect their family, but the holidays are coming up. Do you make an exception because you’ve limited contact with your family for the last several months? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) encourages you to wait. Don’t give in to large gatherings just yet.

Sure, it isn’t going to be easy. The holidays are the time of year when families come together and celebrate everything from Halloween to Christmas. Fall and winter offer a half dozen or more opportunities for food, family and fun. But coming together in groups outside of those you live with is when you can potentially invite in unwanted viruses like COVID-19 or the flu.

It’s important to remember that viruses spread quickly through close contact with many people, especially if those people don’t live with you. If there are a lot of COVID-19 cases in your community, there’s a chance someone at your gathering might be infected. People can have COVID-19 without showing symptoms. You can still spread the virus without symptoms.

CDC Guidelines

Keep these three things in mind:

  1. Indoor events bring people closer together, making social distancing more difficult. That increases your risk of spreading COVID-19 or the flu.
  2. Your risk can increase the longer you’re at an event or party.
  3. If people are traveling from another place, there’s also a higher risk if they’re coming from places with a high number of cases.

Here are the safest ways to protect yourself until a COVID-19 vaccine is created:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Keep physically distanced (at least six feet)
  • Wear your mask
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Stay home if you don’t feel well

You can help prevent the spread of the flu by getting your flu shot before the end of October. Remember, it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to start working in your body.

The holiday season is right around the corner. Here are some guidelines put forth by the CDC to help protect you from the spread of COVID-19.

Pug dog in Yoda Halloween costume celebrating holidays during COVID-19 pandemic

Halloween

It’s a favorite time for many. Children and adults get to dress up as their favorite superheroes and go trick-or-treating. They also can attend holiday parties and enjoy each other’s company. However, because this year looks nothing like years prior, we want to show you how your holiday might look a little different.

If you’re going to participate in Halloween activities such as trick-or-treating or Halloween parties, the CDC recommends:

  • To wear a mask over your costume mask. The mask that comes with your costume is NOT designed to keep your droplets from spreading to others
  • Wash your hands often and practice social distancing as best as you can
  • Try not to touch your face, especially when handling drinks and food prepared by others
  • If you’re preparing food for others, use a mask while doing so
  • After attending an event or celebration, stay home as much as possible for two weeks after the event and consider getting tested for COVID-19. If you develop symptoms like a cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell, call your doctor and ask to be tested.
Three Dia de Los Muertos colls sitting on a small wooden bench with painted faces, clothing and shoes during COVID-19 pandemic

Dia de los Muertos

It’s a tradition many families celebrate to honor their loved ones who have passed away. It’s a time when extended families come together to create an alter (ofrenda) to their deceased family members, tell stories and honor their legacy.

If you’re planning on hosting or attending a Dia de los Muertos celebration, here are some recommendations to keep you safe:

  • Wear a mask if you’re going to be around people who don’t live with you
  • Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol between washes
  • Try to maintain social distancing or attend outdoor events
  • Keep your distance if you go to the graves of your loved ones with people outside of your family unit
  • Wear a mask while preparing food for others or share family recipes for each family to make for themselves
  • Keep an eye out for any symptoms that show up after the event and consider getting a COVID-19 test
Woman carving turkey at Thanksgiving during COVID-19 pandemic

Thanksgiving

What will Thanksgiving look like for you this year? Do you plan on hosting a small group of people for an annual Friendsgiving or forego the festivities altogether? There are ways to celebrate safely, especially if you are expecting people over who do not live in your home:

  • Limit the amount of people in the kitchen, who are preparing food. Those people should be wearing a mask and washing their hands often
  • Before anyone arrives, wipe down frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, sink faucets and knobs, countertops and toilets with disinfectant wipes. Make wipes available for everyone to use after they’ve touched a commonly used surface
  • Avoid shopping with the crowds on Black Friday. Instead, shop online and let everyone in your family make a wish list. Share those wish lists with other family members so they can shop from the safety of their homes as well
  • Wear a mask if you cannot social distance in your home. For a small get together, try to sit at least six feet apart and minimize hugging or physical contact with those outside of your home
  • Label your drinks so nobody accidentally drinks from someone else’s cup
  • Create utensil packs with disposable forks, knives and spoons and give one to each person attending the event
  • Be outside as much as possible, as it is easier to socially distance at outside events
Mother daughter wear cloth masks per CDC guidelines. One mask with RealTree camo print and the other with paws and hearts to protect each other from COVID-19 pandemic

Conclusion

Some people might not be able to celebrate the holidays as we typically do, and that’s okay. If you have someone in your family who is immunocompromised or high-risk, please consider encouraging them to stay home this year. There are many alternative ways to celebrate the holidays without putting yourself or others at risk. If you do plan on getting together, please be sure to wear a mask and practice all the CDC’s guidelines to keep your family safe.