As COVID cases surge across the United States many people are looking at their holiday plans. People are trying to figure out if they should still get together with family or hunker down and stay at home. And there is no doubt that this year things are going to look different. At least if you’re taking COVID seriously, they should.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to cancel all of your plans. Or that you shouldn’t get together with family members you love and don’t get to see everyday. There are still ways to celebrate, spend time together, and connect with your family and friends.
Here are four ways that you can celebrate — COVID style.
1. Get Creative with Your Seating Chart
This year smaller social gatherings are better. Instead of getting together with the extended family choose smaller, more intimate gatherings. While you are visiting, wear your mask.
When it’s time to eat, have one person wear a mask and serve people cafeteria style. That way only one set of hands are touching the serving utensils.
Also, instead of sitting at the formal dining table where you all are close — spread out. Create a socially distanced seating chart so that you all can still be cautious but share a meal together.
Use table trays and sit around the perimeter of the room. Or have tables set up in different rooms. Make a game of it and have several people rotate from room to room so that you can still visit with everyone while eating — safely.
Just because you all are not gathered around a table doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy each other’s company and share a meal.
It is important to understand that while you are unmasked and eating there is more of a chance for the virus to spread so socially distancing and eating six feet apart is best.
2. Eat Before You Go
If you don’t have the room to get creative with your seating chart. Or you decide that this year you are not going to do the big meal together — eat before you go.
Keep your mask on while visiting. Enjoy each other’s company without sharing the feast.
You can still visit in the comfort of someone’s home with everyone wearing their mask.
And wearing a mask is so important. In fact study after study has found that this simple prevention method is very effective. You can read our blog post regarding the flu during COVID and why masks work here.
3. Eat Outside
If it is possible, eat outside. Per an article from the Mayo Clinic, the chances of spreading COVID go down when you are outside due to the fresh air constantly moving.
If you have the budget you can purchase an outdoor space heater to set up. If that is not in the budget or it will just be too cold — open a window. Get some of that fresh air circulating inside.
If neither of these is an option then go to a restaurant that has outdoor seating for the winter. Many restaurants are setting up heaters to make the outdoor dining option more enjoyable. Take the actual holiday and rest and celebrate on an alternative day.
There is no shame in skipping the big holiday to do this year. Take some of your stress away by letting a restaurant do the cooking and clean up.
If you decide that you don’t want to get together in person, pick up the phone. You can prop your computer or phone on the table and eat with those you love — while being in the comfort of your own home. You can still share a meal. You can talk and spend time with one another over a zoom call. And if you have people at multiple locations, no problem. You all can jump on the zoom call and chat together.
Plan a time when you all can jump on to celebrate together. If grandparents aren’t going to be able to travel there are apps like Zoom and Marco Polo where you can talk live or stream messages so they can see the kids opening their gifts.
Thankfully we live in a time where this is possible. Where we can still see one another and talk even if we are not in the same location, state, or even country.
Do What YOU Feel Comfortable Doing.
There are so many different views on COVID and prevention methods. It is important that you don’t get pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.
This time of year brings stress. Embrace not getting too overworked. Figure out what works best for your family. It will look different this year and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
And don’t feel guilt or stress about the changes. If you don’t feel comfortable getting together most people understand. We are living in strange times so make sure that you are doing what you feel comfortable with.
If you want to get together with the extended family but know you can’t this year due to COVID. — plan an event for when the weather is warmer. Pick a time in the spring or summer to get together where you can do it outdoors. A park for kids to play at. A pavilion where you can bring a potluck and enjoy each other’s company.
Know this isn’t going to last forever. And although it is hard this year — there are ways to make it work.
If you are feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, remember you can talk with your primary care physician. Dr. Sheila Chen is a doctor in Virginia at Dimensions Direct Primary Care.
Direct Primary Care is a subscription healthcare platform that takes out the insurance middleman. Dimensions Direct Primary Care is a Fairfax internal medicine practice for people ages 14 and up. For a low monthly fee you can get exceptional healthcare at a fraction of the cost.
If you would like to learn more you can call Dimensions Direct Primary Care at 571-229-9183 or visit the website at www.dimensionsdpc.com.