Planning for a Covid Christmas Season

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Christmas 2020 looks like it will be as different as the whole year has been, and like me, you may be starting to realize that all the usual Christmas traditions aren’t going to be possible this year. With disrupted travel, social distancing, greater demands for online shopping and the usual holiday stresses compounded by the presence of Covid-19, it is hard to anticipate the usual joys this holiday season. Now is the time to start planning for a Covid Christmas season – one that creatively adapts to the “new normal” while still giving the whole family a very Merry Christmas!

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Here are some ideas to consider as you begin your holiday planning:

Entertaining: This will probably be the most impacted part of the Christmas season, and it will be important to think creatively about alternatives. Depending on where you live, it may be permitted to have small gatherings – or not. Know what the restrictions are for your area, and ask yourself what you and your guests will feel comfortable with.

Each year for the past 20 years, I have hosted a 20-30 person neighborhood ornament exchange. With winter and a closed up house, I am not sure that it will be worth the risk this year, and I would hate to be responsible for one of my friends becoming sick. One alternative that I am considering is just a small porch pick-up grab bag or maybe cocoa and the exchange at a forest preserve shelter some Saturday afternoon. Whatever we do, we can make it fun!

Gift Giving: There are two things to be thinking of when it comes to gift giving. The first is that shopping this year is bound to be more difficult, with limited store hours in many cases, and restrictions on the number of people who can be in a store at one time. It will be a good idea to make a list and start early, going at off hours whenever possible. Likewise, many of us do a lot of holiday shopping online. But with everyone doing online shopping for necessities as well as Christmas gifts, there are bound to be delays in shipping and availability of certain items. Again, starting early will be key.

It will be important to consider the types of gifts you are giving as well. Particularly for friends or family who have had to self-quarantine or shelter in place for any length of time, a gift of an online activity (like a cooking class or live streamed concert) may be greatly appreciated. Think outside the box and remember that anyone who has been lonely or depressed during the pandemic is likely to appreciate something to do with someone they love more than anything else.

Decorating: Not much to change here, except that it is likely going to be harder to get into the Christmas spirit for many people this year. Maybe decorating the outside of your house, lighting up your neighborhood, will be more important this season! And as you make the inside of your house as festive as possible, remember to light candles for scent and play music for mood. If possible send photos of the decorations to family or friends who are sheltered-in-place so that they can feel a part of the festivities, too.

As with every holiday season, planning is essential, but because there is so much uncertainty now, it is also important to remember to be flexible and that everyone else is in the same situation. We can make this a Christmas to remember despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19!

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