Ideas to Keep the Family Connected this Holiday Season
Holidays will feel different this year against the backdrop of COVID-19. Wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and even limiting travel for health and safety purposes are all part of our current pandemic era, and this will be the first major holiday season affected by these differences. But the season’s hallmarks of family, friends and togetherness don’t necessarily have to change, they just might need to adapt. For many people, the challenge will be finding new ways to stay connected and celebrate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people that the safest holiday activities revolve around staying local and either celebrating virtually, or only with members of your own household. In contrast, indoor celebrations with many people, or with people who have traveled from out of the area, are considered high-risk holiday activities.
If you cannot be with others in person this year, here are some ideas to stay connected this holiday season.
Revive forgotten family traditions. Parents and grandparents can search their memories to bring back old family or cultural traditions for their children and grandchildren. Maybe they are the European traditions of leaving wooden shoes by a doorway for pre-holiday gifts on a certain date or tucking whole walnuts into the corner of every room for good luck in the New Year. For other families, this could mean the daily opening of tiny doors in an Advent calendar or a special Hanukkah gift handed down through the generations. Talking about these holiday traditions can deepen the connections between individuals in a family.
Video chats. Virtual celebrations are the safest interactions with people outside your household, the CDC says, so video chats can be your go-to way to connect with relatives this holiday season. Instead of setting up just one chat with a large number of people – this can quickly turn unwieldy – try opting for one-on-one chats between kids and grandparents, or with an aunt or uncle. If you have a large family, you may need to set up a few of these in the days leading up to a holiday. If you do want to host one large but brief chat, try making it on the day of the holiday and invite everyone to dress up. You can exchange holiday greetings and get a little face time with everyone at once.
Storytime. Young children would probably love it if their video chats with grandparents, aunts and uncles or other relatives turned into a story time just for them. Grown-ups can pick holiday-themed books or read the child’s favorite stories.
Recipe swap. If you can’t gather like you normally do for the holidays, consider sharing some holiday recipes. If you know your cousin loves your fancy mashed potato casserole, send him the recipe so he can make it at his house. Want to expand this to a family project? You can create a shared document online and invite everyone to upload their favorite holiday recipes. That way, even if your extended family can’t all be together this year, the holiday meal will still taste like you are.
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