How to Navigate the Holidays During COVID

The pandemic will have your holidays looking different this year but with a little prep you can safely celebrate the holidays during COVID.

There are still a few ways to keep family traditions at the holidays alive, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, parents will need to do some creative thinking and take a lot of precautions, recommends the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Celebrating the holiday season with family and friends is one of our most cherished traditions,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health in a release. “Even though the way we celebrate may have to be different, the guidance issued today shows there are still many ways to spend quality time with family and friends safely during this festive season.”

In its precautions and recommendations for the holiday season, MDHHS says that parents need to be aware of how and where gatherings are located and keep family functions to 10 people or fewer.

But, parents can still find ways to create family fun this holiday season.

Keep masks on in gatherings

Families that insist on spending the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa holidays together are best to mimic the precautions taken in schools and hospitals: masks on unless you’re eating, and then eat only with members of your own household, placing tables six feet away from family and friends you don’t spend every day with.

Open windows and layer on clothing to keep air flow regulated.

“Indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose more risk than those with good ventilation, such as those with open windows or doors,” MDHHS says.

Keep functions short, to limit risk, and even among family members outside of your immediate household, keep masks on.

“Gatherings with preventive measures, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing, in place pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented,” MDHHS says.

Prepare kids for holiday changes

If all of that sounds like too much, or your family has already planned to keep the holidays confined to your immediate household, doctors suggest to make sure that kids are emotionally prepared. Just like your family did at Halloween, warn your kids that this year will be a different holiday experience.

Then, get kids more involved in helping to plan and prepare for the holidays. Let them pick a dish to make for Thanksgiving or decide when and how holiday decorations will be set out.

If you plan to visit with Santa, consider a porch visit, a phone call or a Zoom call. Or make sure you seek out a socially distanced Santa with best hygiene practices in place.

Plane travel

If your family chooses to fly during the holidays, remember to keep masks on during air travel, the CDC says.

Also, make sure you have hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) at the ready and wash your hands often.

The CDC also recommends that families are aware of the COVID-19 case load at their destination before taking to the air.

Top tips

The CDC and MDHHS have a few tips and reminders for families during the holiday season:

  • Wear a mask, even around family outside of your immediate household
  • Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze or eat
  • Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had close contact (been within six feet for 15 minutes or more) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Limit travel and large gatherings
  • If you choose to hold a family gathering, make extra masks and hand sanitizer available for guests
  • As much as possible, host gatherings with people only from your local area

Avoid singing, chanting or shouting when you or others aren’t wearing masks.


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