Fri | Sep 24, 2021

How to have a safe holiday season during the pandemic

Published:Wednesday | December 16, 2020 | 12:18 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

With the holidays fast approaching, many people are wondering if it is possible to safely celebrate during a pandemic. Should you visit relatives or have family and friends over? Nonetheless, your typical holiday gathering will look different this year.

Expanding your circle of people during the COVID-19 pandemic increases your risk of exposure. It is recommended that persons do not travel, especially to communities that are seeing increases in cases of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, taking a test before travelling is not a guarantee of safety. It is possible to have been exposed, but asymtomatic. A negative test could give a false sense of security and lead to COVID-19 exposures.

So what can you do to safely acknowledge the holidays, especially during this challenging year?


Limit your gatherings to those in your immediate household, if possible. You can still have your favourite aunt make the cakes and then divide them among the households. Or one person could provide holiday to-go plates.

If you do choose to get together, limit the size of your groups, and ensure people wear masks and maintain a distance of at least six feet.

Make sure there is plenty of space to maintain distance, and keep some fresh air circulating by keeping a window open. If your mouth or nose is visible, you are potentially spreading more germs than if it were covered.


You can create a sense of connection by listening to a streaming music channel during the meal, having the same menu, having a family call or Zoom-enabled interaction before or after the meal, or even having an outdoor, socially distanced visit.

Maintaining connection with others is important for mental health, so thinking about what are the traditions that are important to your family and friends that you can hold on to in a virtual way can help. Some suggestions include having a Zoom pyjama party, or taking time to write a letter to a friend, or have a phone call with someone you have not spoken to in a while.


Being sick over a holiday is never fun, but it is especially important to take precautions if you or a loved one has COVID-19. If someone in your circle is ill, it is important to protect your family while caring for that individual. If you are sharing a living space, it is important to quarantine for the full 14 days. This can certainly interfere with holiday plans, but it may be helpful to take the perspective that you are giving the gift of health protection to your family.


What do you say to relatives who insist on the usual fanfare? There are lots of ways, though we might not like them, to celebrate safely this year and maybe go all out next year. Love and connection seem to be at the root of all of our holidays. So do not wait for the holiday to show love or connect with the people you care about.


After all of the Christmas festivities, it can be tempting to indulge in a hearty English breakfast. However, a fry-up is not the cure you are looking for, and you will be missing out on key hangover-busting nutrients. If you are craving something warm, a healthy omelette packed with vitamin-filled veggies is your best bet; but if you can’t face a cooked breakfast, a good helping of berries and probiotic yoghurt will also work wonders.


It might be a challenge to keep up with your regular workouts, especially with friends and family staying and seasonal gym closures! But that doesn’t mean you get to stop moving altogether. After a big Christmas lunch, why not walk it off for an hour? The movement will help to keep your heart healthy and burn a few extra calories, not to mention the benefits of a breath of fresh, winter air!


Water really is a miracle worker when it comes to health and fitness. Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your metabolism moving, meaning that you are less likely to pile on as many pounds after Christmas dinner. What’s more, with more alcohol flowing and later nights, keeping hydrated is essential for staying awake and alert to enjoy all the fun during the day.


While it is important to eat healthily and stay active (even though it’s Christmas), there’s also such a thing as ‘everything in moderation’. Make sure you take the time to enjoy yourself during the holidays and embrace the time you have with friends and family, especially in this pandemic.