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Reimagining The Holidays In A Pandemic

2020 has been a hard year. We are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, racial trauma and an outgoing president and his zealous supporters that will not concede. Of all years, 2020 is definitely a year in which we could all use a little holiday cheer and cherished time with loved ones. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday gatherings are considered a risky activity. Here are some tips to help you reimagine the 2020 Holiday Season while mazmixing safety and minimizing anxiety. 

An important part of reimagining the 2020 Holiday Season is communication. Talk to your friends and family about the safest ways to enjoy the holidays. Here are some tips for having this important conversation: 

  • Opt for video calls or phone calls. These options provide the opportunity to better express and understand emotion than texting or emailing. 
  • If having the conversation in person, consider a mask and practice social distancing. 
  • Avoid criticism or judgement. Everyone has different needs and different pandemic realities. Lead with empathy. If someone is proposing a holiday plan that you disagree with, state that you disagree and seek ways to reach a safe compromise. 
  • Lead with your own concerns over facts and stats. Citing facts and statistics about the pandemic may lead to an argument. Instead, consider sharing your own concerns. For example, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one at higher risk for contracting the virus, focus on that. 

Get Creative 
Creativity is another important part of reimagining the 2020 Holiday Season. We are lucky to have technology and other resources to help us get through this difficult time. Check out the creative solutions below: 

  • Zoom will not restrict calls to 40 minutes on Thanksgiving Day. Many holiday activities can be adapted using Zoom. Consider sharing this idea with loved ones in advance and have a practice call to avoid technical issues on the big days. 
  • Activities for Zoom Call: 
    • Prepare and enjoy your holiday favorites together on Zoom. 
    • Play games adaptable for Zoom like charades 
    • Zoom offers a recording feature so that you can save the virtual meet up for your archives.
  • Explore interactive smartphone applications, like House Party, that allow you to play games while video chatting with loved ones.
  • The Family Dinner Project is offering a virtual Thanksgiving Care Package that includes dinner games and conversation starters. 
  • Plan a holiday drive by. Driving to your loved ones’ home and staying in your car or outside of the home is a safe way to share holiday cheer. 
  • Embrace the great outdoors. If you are having a gathering, set up a comfortable outdoor space. You may live in a climate conducive to this. If not, you can create a comfortable environment with a fire pit or outdoor heater. 

Manage Anxiety by Prioritizing Safety 
Focusing on things you can control is a great technique for reducing anxiety. During the pandemic, you have the power to reduce your risk of infection. Following the CDC Guidelines, no matter what your holiday plans are, is a great way to reduce risk of infection and anxiety. Here are some easy to implement guidelines: 

  • Keep the group small. 
  • Practice social distancing. 
  • Ask guests to wear a mask and wear a mask while preparing and serving food.
  • Eat outside if possible. 
  • Increase ventilation indoors by opening windows and doors. 
  • Use disposable plates and utensils. 
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. 

If you have a friend or family member that is resistant to following CDC guidelines, remember to focus on what you can control. You may not be able to control your loved one’s behavior, but you can control yours. Wearing a mask reduces risk of infection by 65% to the mask wearer. This is evidence that you can still protect your health even if those around you are not following guidelines. 

Setting boundaries is another great way to manage anxiety and promote safety. If you are feeling unsafe at a holiday gathering, accept your feelings and set boundaries. Here are a few examples of boundary setting: 

  • You may ask for someone to step back if they violate social distancing: “I am really happy to see you! Would you mind stepping back to maintain social distancing? I would love to connect with you in a safe manner.” 
  • Do not consume food or beverages if you feel that it is unsafe: “I appreciate all the effort you put into preparing this meal. I am not able to partake this time but I look forward to sharing a meal in the future.” 
  • You may decide that you need to leave or not attend a gathering to protect your health: “Thank you so much for inviting me to this gathering. I am feeling uncomfortable, therefore, I think that it is best for me to leave or stay home. I hope to connect with everyone again when it is safe.” 
  • If you are the host, you can also establish boundaries with your guests: “The safety of all guests is important to me. Would you please wear a mask to help me keep everyone safe?” 
  • This language can be used to enforce all safety guidelines. 

If you are still feeling anxious about you and your family’s safety, you may consider getting tested before and after holiday gatherings. Knowing your status can reduce anxiety and inform safety planning. If you test positive, seek medical care immediately and follow quarantine recommendations. 

Above all, keep the ultimate goal in mind, reducing the spread of COVID-19 in hopes of enjoying our traditions without risk in 2021!


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here