The holiday season officially kicks off next week with the arrival of Thanksgiving. What should be a happy, joyous time of celebration with friends and family is being met with challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. West Virginia University Extension Service Family and Community Development agent, Ami Cook, offers advice on how you, with a positive attitude and proper planning, can make the most of this year’s holiday season and do it safely.
Tips for gatherings
“Thinking about your Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s dinner? Guess what? We all still need to eat. We just need to do it safely. Keep your gatherings small and limit your celebration to local family members who don’t have to travel far to be with you. Limit contact with the public, when possible, wash your hands and wear a mask in the weeks leading up to the meal.”
“If the weather cooperates, consider an outdoor dinner this year. Even if it’s a little chilly, make it fun with blankets and a fire pit. Whether your dinner is inside or out, we need to maintain six feet social distance between people. Masks are important to mitigate the spread, especially indoors. Avoid potlucks or multiple cooks and have one person serve the food (with masks and gloves). Consider supporting a local restaurant by ordering dinner for takeout.”
“If you really want to include other family members and friends that aren’t local, Zoom is offering free, extended family sessions for the holiday this year. Set up a device at your dinner table and enjoy the meal, a blessing, or a toast together virtually.”
Tips for baking
“Missing your traditional cookie exchange this year? Consider a virtual baking contest. Use a virtual platform to decorate your holiday goodies together then show them off to one another and vote for a winner. Everybody wins when you eat the cookies. Make it even more fun by exchanging the recipes you use. If you still miss giving and receiving goodies, consider having a local bakery ship directly to your family and friends. You still get to ‘exchange’ goodies, plus you support a local business.”
Enjoy Black Friday shopping online
“If you’re a shopper who is bummed about Black Friday shopping, check out all of the amazing discounts and specials offered online. Facetime your friends and shop together, basking in the joy of all the money you saved. You can even split up your shopping duties to be sure you all get the best deals available that day.”
“Don’t forget, many companies will ship your gifts directly to the person you are buying for, so be sure to fill out the shipping section correctly. Many local businesses even offer curbside pickup for your shopping needs.”
Tips for Connecting
“So many people are feeling isolated and lonely due to the pandemic. We want to be sure that we are still reaching out to our friends and family, especially those who are at risk for experiencing these feelings. We can still safely call people, text people and even make short, outdoor visits with social distancing and wearing masks. Instead of visiting people in their homes, consider taking a walk together. This allows for a visit and an opportunity for some physical activity, which is also good for our mental health.”
“Let’s not forget all of the activities that are safe. Decorating for the holidays is still on, and this year people seem to be starting early, so there is plenty of holiday spirit out there. We can still drive around safely with our family/household members and look at light displays. That pesky elf on the shelf might be your new best friend this year if you miss normalcy.”
“And, perhaps even more important this year, we can still support local organizations and volunteering in our communities to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable holiday season. Food banks are still accepting donations, angel trees are still going up for gift giving, and charities still rely heavily on our financial contributions.” —Ami Cook, WVU Extension Service Families and Health Agent- Braxton and Clay counties
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers additional tips and helpful information to help you safely prepare for the upcoming holidays.
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CONTACT: Tara Curtis
WVU Extension Service
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