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Published on November 17, 2020

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How to Celebrate the Holidays During a Pandemic

The unusualness of 2020 now continues into the holiday season. While you can expect this year to be different, sometimes a different experience can be very memorable and special.

“To play it safest, you should avoid gathering with people beyond your immediate household,” said Kevin Post, DO, family medicine physician and Chief Medical Officer of Avera Medical Group. “We may need to get creative to protect those we love from COVID-19.”

Stay COVID-19 Safe

If you do decide to hold or attend a holiday gathering, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives several ways to lower your risk:

  • Avoid communities with high positivity rates
  • Celebrate outdoors, or open windows and doors for better ventilation inside
  • Limit to those from your local area
  • Keep gatherings short
  • Keep the group small
  • Ask members to isolate 14 days before gathering
  • The basics: wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay 6 feet apart

Besides a little extra preparation, you may also want to avoid some activities all together. Here’s what the experts have to say:

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Spend Time Together, Separately

Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator at Avera, encourages families to leverage technology. “When it’s time for the big dinner or opening gifts, use a virtual meeting app like Zoom to see everyone who would usually get together.”

Some ideas for fun holiday activities include:

  • Pick out a recipe for your family to bake together on the same day; schedule a video conference call to share decorating or eating the cookies together.
  • Schedule a regular story time with grandparents over video conference.
  • Try a new holiday tradition; if your family has never tried an Advent calendar, maybe this is the year. Want to include extended family? Set up a video conference.
  • Schedule a movie night with distant loved ones using the Teleparty extension or set up a virtual game night.
  • Try an outdoor scavenger hunt.
  • Check out your community calendar. Many organizations understand the adjustments needed to keep the holidays safe and are working hard to put together fun and innovative activities for individuals and families.
  • College students returning for the holiday should call, text and video conference high school friends rather than meet up in person.

Embrace a Holiday Attitude

No matter your plans, keep the joyful spirit alive during the holidays. Wear holiday attire, prepare the normal food spread, and ask everyone on the virtual call to either share what they’re thankful for or show a favorite gift.

“During such unprecedented times, it’s so important to embrace gratitude and recognize the blessings in your life,” said Post. “If not before, we are challenged to be thankful and think even more about others.”

Every person’s holiday will be unique. Think positive — as you stay safe during the holidays, perhaps you’ll find a new tradition for your family.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we want to help you stay safe and continue to enjoy life. For more information and tips go to

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