By Dylan Roche
The holidays are going to be a bit different this year. Health experts and elected officials are urging people to alter their plans due to rising cases of COVID-19. But just because some holiday traditions are going to have to go on hold doesn’t mean that other traditions can’t be tailored to ensure safety or that you can’t establish new traditions altogether. With the right planning, creativity, and positive attitude, you might even end up making this the best holiday season ever.
What should you keep in mind as you go about planning your merrymaking? Here are some ideas for making a happy, safe and memorable holiday:
Plan virtual visits instead of in-person trips
- Avoid traveling unless it’s absolutely necessary. Under the current Maryland Department of Health advisory, Marylanders are discouraged from traveling to states with positivity rates of 10% or higher. Anyone who is coming to Maryland from these states must be tested and quarantine until they get their results.
- Instead of visiting relatives in person, visit with them over a digital platform like Google Meet or Zoom. Plan to do a virtual visit once a week throughout December and give each visit a theme—decorate your Christmas trees together over Zoom, bake seasonal treats, or do a virtual sing-along.
Move the celebration outdoors
- If you’re someone who loves holding an annual holiday party, you can still see all your friends and neighbors in a socially distanced but still festive way. Have the party outdoors and encourage all attendees to wear masks and keep a safe 6 feet from one another. Remember that as of November 13, outdoor gatherings in Anne Arundel County are limited to 25 people.
- Set up outdoor space heaters and fire pits as a way of keeping people warm outside. You can also make the party BYOB—bring your own blanket. Imagine people hanging out on Adirondack chairs under their own blankets while the fire crackles away and festive music plays over your speakers!
- Avoid serving food and drinks. Instead encourage everyone to bring their own refreshments. Set out plenty of hand sanitizer along with brown paper lunch bags where people can safely store their masks while they eat.
Find joy in the intimacy of your immediate household or pod
- This is the perfect opportunity for you and your immediate household to establish new traditions that make the holidays special. It could be something as simple as a marathon of holiday movies or TV specials, craft time, or baking. Remember, you can always invite others to participate via Zoom.
- If you want to spread a little bit of holiday cheer to others, you and your pod can dedicate a craft time or baking session to making a special surprise for a neighbor or friend—for example, cards and cookies. Spend the day delivering them via contactless porch drop-offs. This kind gesture will be greatly appreciated by any high-risk neighbors who live alone and feel especially isolated right now.
- If you’re a family who loves to drive around and look at lights and decorations, this is one tradition you won’t have to give up this year. Make it more social by letting your kids livestream the tour so your friends can chime in with their reactions and comments. It’s a small way to make it feel as if they’re there with you.
Take care of your mental health
- It’s okay to recognize the importance of health/safety and still feel a little sad that the holidays are different this year. Remember that while the holidays can be a joyful time, they’re also a time when many people feel increased stress, anxiety and depression. People who usually don’t struggle during the holidays might find themselves struggling this year.
Check in with others to see how they’re doing. If you yourself are struggling, you can always call the Anne Arundel County Warmline at 410-768-5522 or the Maryland Helpline at 211 (then press 1). If you’d rather text than talk, you can send a message to 898-211.