With the holiday season in full swing, and COVID-19 cases rising both in our community and around the country, families are making plans to observe their favorite traditions in a much different way than in years past. CHOC experts provide the following recommendations for how to celebrate the winter holidays safely amid COVID-19.
“The holiday season – filled with celebrations and family traditions – can be such a magical time for kids. We want all families to enjoy quality, happy time together, but it’s essential that these celebrations are done in a safe way,” says Melanie Patterson, CHOC’s vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “We understand some people are experiencing “COVID fatigue” after months of juggling remote learning, working from home and other measures in place in our communities. But now is the time to be as vigilant as ever in doing our part to curb the spread of COVID-19.”
These recommendations are meant to supplement, rather than replace, any local or statewide regulations.
Celebrate with your household
The safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is to celebrate with people in your own household. Travel and gatherings with family and friends outside your household can increase your chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.
Celebrate virtually with others
Use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to enjoy a holiday meal or gift exchange with loved ones who don’t live in your household. Consider sharing recipes between family members and friends ahead of time, and cooking each of your meals together over video chat. Even Santa Claus is offering virtual visits this year!
Children can also use video chat to do a festive craft project with cousins and friends outside their household.
Set up a virtual cookie decorating or gingerbread house building party with neighbors, friends or loved ones from outside your household.
Or, have a virtual, interactive watch party for your favorite holiday movie using Netflix Party or Disney+’s GroupWatch. These services allow you to synchronize your show or movie with friends and family, and chat while you’re watching.
Celebrating virtually is especially important if you are celebrating with family members over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.
You can also make crafts or cookies as a family and deliver them to neighbors, friends and family in a safe way, such as leaving them on their doorstep.
Festive outdoor celebrations
As temperatures begin to dip in Southern California, be sure to dress warmly before engaging in any physically distant outdoor activities. Consider a nature scavenger hunt, hiking or taking a drive through a neighborhood near you that is decked out in holiday lights and décor.
Traveling can increase your chance of getting or spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and your family.
The California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory Nov. 13, urging visitors to California or residents returning home from non-essential travel to self-quarantine for 14 days and limit their interactions to their immediate household, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. California also announced on Dec. 3 regional stay-at-home orders, which can be triggered by a region’s intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity falling below 15%. Read more about this regional stay-at-home order, including how it impacts travel.
Add a flu shot to your to-do list
Your flu shot is more important than ever this year. Influenza and COVID-19 can have over-lapping symptoms. They also utilize the same resources, including personal protective equipment (PPE), hospital beds and equipment. Protecting yourself – and your family – from the flu can help limit a potential strain on these resources. Learn more about the importance of this year’s influenza vaccine.
Navigating holiday disappointment
By this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, many children have experienced disappointment about missing out on birthday parties, family vacations or special occasions they had been looking forward to. If your child or teen feels disappointed right now over missed holiday celebrations, this article from a CHOC pediatric psychologist can help.