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Celebrate the Holidays Safely: From Virtual Holiday Celebrations to Socially Distanced Gatherings

It’s the season for celebration with family and friends. However, with COVID-19, you are probably wondering how you can celebrate the holiday season safely. Whether you’re planning a socially distanced gathering, a virtual celebration with friends and family, or if you’re spending the holidays alone, we have got you covered on alternative ways to make the most out of the holiday season. Above all, it’s extremely important to  find ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to help keep you and your loved ones safe. 

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Follow CDC Guidelines When Hosting or Attending a Gathering

If you are someone who is hosting a gathering during the holiday season, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines. If you are a guest who will be attending a gathering, make sure to have a conversation with the host about the  safety measures they will have in place to make sure you stay protected. Here are some guidelines recommended by the CDC if you plan on being a host this holiday season: 

Remind Guests to Stay Home if They Are Sick 

Couple wearing masks while they FaceTime with family for the holidays

This includes any potential guests who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days, as well as those who are showing any COVID-19 symptoms or have recently tested positive for the virus. Also, it’s a good idea to keep a list of guests for potential contact tracing needs.

Encourage Social Distancing

Guests are seen wearing masks and dining outdoors while they cheers

If the weather permits, it’s a great opportunity to take your gathering to the outdoors. If you’re unable to do so, make sure that your room is well-ventilated. You can do this easily  by opening a window. Arrange the tables and chairs to allow for social distancing. You  can also arrange for members of the same household to be grouped together, at least 6 feet apart from other families.

Wear Masks and Wash Your Hands

A woman washes her hands in the sink

Make sure to have a face mask on if you’re unable to maintain a 6-foot distance. If you’re a guest, make sure to bring your own. If you’re a host, have some extra disposable masks for your guests. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when entering and exiting social gatherings. Also, make sure to wash your hands before serving or eating any food. Try  single-use hand towels and make sure your hand sanitizer and hand soap contain at least 60% alcohol.

Limit Contact with Commonly Touched Surfaces

A person is seen carving a holiday ham while guests wear masks

When serving food, identify one person to serve all the food so multiple people are not handling the serving utensils. Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks if possible and limit people going in and out of the areas where food is prepared. If you’re a guest, try not to put your hands on commonly touched surfaces. If you’re a host, make sure to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces often.

Travel Safely

A senior couple is seen wearing masks as they walk through an airport with their luggage

If you decide to travel this season, follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself and others. Ask yourself, “Is COVID-19 spreading at your destination?” If so, rethink heading to that destination. Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when using public transportation and in hubs such as airports and train stations. Avoid close contact, wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

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How to Make the Most out of Spending the Holidays Alone

If you are someone who is unable to meet in-person with loved ones this holiday season, or if you are spending the holidays alone, you may feel disappointed and saddened. It’s easy to feel as though you can’t celebrate the holidays; but it’s important to take time for yourself to celebrate. You deserve it! Read on for ways to celebrate this holiday season.

Schedule a Virtual Holiday Celebration

A man and his dog are seen having a virtual holiday dinner with family over Zoom

Consider hosting a virtual holiday celebration through a video chat software such as Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. The possibilities for conversations and fun are endless! Share a holiday tale with the grandkids or engage the whole family by playing virtual holiday bingo. You can also show your loved ones how to make a special recipe or participate in a virtual gift exchange. Send your gifts by mail in advance and have everyone open their packages together so everyone can see. Don’t be afraid to get creative!  

Watch a Virtual Performance

A couple are seen watching a live concert from their laptop

This year, the most loved holiday shows and performances can be brought to the comfort of your home. Watch a live stream performance from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for a 90-minute electrifying performance of their album “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.” Ticket prices start at $30. In addition, another live stream option is Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.  If neither of those options pique your interest, search online for other live stream performances. 

Plan an Outing

An Asian senior couple marvel at an outdoor holiday light display

If you’re able to do so, travel  outside of your home, while following CDC guidelines. One idea is to go on a drive to look at the neighborhood holiday lights while listening to holiday music. 

Watch Holiday Movies

Close up of a senior woman putting on a holiday movie while cozy on the couch

Although we may not be able to head to the movie theater to watch newly released holiday movies, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have us covered. For Netflix, try hosting a Teleparty so the whole family can watch together, from wherever! Plus, Hallmark and Lifetime have released their list of holiday movies. You can also check out AARP’s 2020 Holiday Season Movie Preview for holiday entertainment options. 

Pamper yourself

A Black senior woman is seen lounging on the couch with her tablet while enjoying baked goods

Take the time to focus on you this holiday season! Purchase a gift for yourself while  online shopping, bake and indulge in your favorite holiday treat, or light a holiday scented candle. Create an environment for yourself where you can relax and reflect, and truly enjoy the holiday.

Make a Gratitude List

An older woman wearing glasses stares off as she makes a written list

Take the time to give thanks this holiday season by writing out a list of things you are grateful for. Set aside some time to think about topics that bring you joy. Maybe you’re grateful for your health, your family, a personal accomplishment or something else. Take note of it!

Give Back

A senior man wearing a mask and gloves hands off a box of food items for the local food pantry

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of online volunteering opportunities have opened up that can allow people to give back safely and easily during these challenging times. Learn more about online volunteering opportunities you can get involved with. 

We understand that it’s difficult to be separated from friends and family this holiday season. However, it’s important to take the necessary steps to lower both your risk  and your loved ones’ risk of contracting COVID-19. If you have any other questions or concerns about COVID-19 and how you can stay safe this holiday season, contact your primary care provider. 

At Iora, we understand that  not everyone will be able to take part in small gatherings and virtual holiday celebrations this season. If you find yourself feeling lonely, know that you are not alone. The Institute of Aging’s 24-hour toll free friendship line is a great resource to chat through your feelings and concerns around loneliness. Give them a call at 800-971-0016 when you need support during the holiday season, and at any time of the year.

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