How to Navigate the Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Back in January 2020, you probably didn’t expect to be reading an article in December filled with tips on how to plan your holiday festivities in the midst of a global pandemic. But as coronavirus cases continue to surge around the country, your holiday plans and traditions may be taking a different shape this year.
Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Even if your plans aren’t exactly what you wanted, we guarantee there are still plenty of ways for you to find joy this season. Keep reading for our best tips on how to safely navigate the holidays.
If You’re Not Meeting in Person
The holidays may be especially difficult this year. After a year filled with unexpected challenges and isolation, you may be feeling deep grief or sadness at the thought of spending the holidays away from loved ones and relatives.
Take heart in knowing that COVID-19 precautions won’t last forever. And in the meantime, there are still multiple ways to connect with loved ones and spread cheer this holiday season.
- Send gifts. Even if you can’t see loved ones in person this year, sending a thoughtful gift can let out-of-state relatives and friends know you’re thinking of them. Online and big-box stores like Amazon, Walmart and Target make it relatively simple to order gifts and deliver them straight to the recipient (and hey – there’s the added bonus of having fewer presents to wrap). Most stores will also let you include a gift receipt with the delivery. Or you can package up homemade cookies, arts and crafts from the kids, or a hand-knitted scarf to send to faraway relatives.
- Hand-deliver gifts. For local friends and family, why not take a page out of Santa’s book and hand-deliver presents? Bundle up the kids or strike out on your own to drive around town and leave gifts or a basket of homemade treats on loved ones’ porches. We recommend going in the evening so that you can enjoy the displays of lights and decorations around town while you spread cheer.
- Set up a video call. Schedule video calls with grandparents, relatives, and friends to celebrate the holidays this year. With videoconferencing, your loved ones can still be there (virtually) to watch your kids open Christmas presents, share a remote meal together or even sing a round of holiday carols over video.
If You Are Meeting in Person
If you are spending the holidays with friends, family members or loved ones outside of your immediate household, please take precautions to gather as safely as possible. We encourage you to read the CDC guidelines for holiday celebrations before finalizing your plans. If you’re sick, a member of your household is sick, or you’re gathering with someone who’s at high risk of developing serious complications from the coronavirus, consider adjusting your plans to meet virtually instead.
If you’re hosting or attending a holiday gathering this year, follow these basic safety guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus:
- Get a COVID-19 test. If you’re able, take a COVID-19 test before visiting family members or friends outside your immediate household. Many testing sites offer rapid tests that can give you a result within minutes. Please remember that rapid testing may be less accurate than a diagnostic test. Find testing sites and testing options in Florida here: Florida COVID-19 Testing Sites.
- Require masks. Ask that all members of your gathering wear a mask while you’re together. Purchase a set of disposable masks to offer to people who forget. Don’t share a mask with anyone else.
- Keep your distance. Maintain social distancing during gatherings – stay 6 feet away from people who aren’t a part of your immediate household. And yes, this does mean you shouldn’t hug or touch friends and family outside your household. While that may be difficult, remember that virus precautions won’t last forever, and you can collect on several long overdue hugs at that time. Social distancing is especially important during mealtimes because you won’t be able to wear a mask while you’re eating.
- Eat outdoors or in ventilated rooms. If the weather is pleasant, plan to eat outdoors to reduce the spread of germs. If that’s not possible, eat and gather in rooms with good ventilation and air circulation. You can achieve better ventilation by opening windows and setting the HVAC to continuous circulation.
- Limit contact with shared items. Plan to have enough utensils so that everyone can use their own to dish out food and eat during meals. Stock the bathrooms with plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, and single-use paper towels. Take precautions to limit as much contact as possible with commonly touched surfaces and shared items.
Contact Advanced Care Hospitalists to Learn More
ACH is a Lakeland-based hospitalist group providing comprehensive patient care in community hospitals across Central Florida. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, services, providers or becoming a partner facility, please call us at 863-816-5884 or fill out a contact form online.