9 Low-Risk Ways to Celebrate Christmas During COVID-19

In-person holiday gatherings are a high-risk activity.

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Some of the most common Christmas activities include traveling to meet with families, gathering in homes, attending religious services, or going to crowded performances of The Nutcracker. Unfortunately, many of these activities are very risky in 2020 because of the pandemic. As a result, you might be looking for safer Christmas activities during COVID-19.

Risks of Traditional Christmas Activities

Christmas activities tend to involve traveling, gathering, and eating together indoors. These are all examples of high-risk activities during COVID-19.

For example, traveling during the pandemic is risky because someone may carry the virus from one area to another, causing an outbreak where there previously wasn’t one. Additionally, traveling presents several opportunities for the virus to spread, such as in crowded airports, at gas stations, or in taxis. Meeting with a limited number of people from your own community is safer; gathering with just the people you live with is the safest.

In some cases, traveling or gathering in large numbers may even be prohibited. Check your local health department's website before making any plans.

Safe Christmas Activities During COVID-19

To spread holiday cheer without spreading COVID-19, try these safer alternatives for celebrating during the pandemic:

1. Have a virtual cookie bake or decorating contest

Pick your favorite cookie recipe and gather your icing and edible decorations for a fun (and delicious) cookie contest. Turn on your webcams so you can bake and chat at the same time.

2. Have a holiday movie watch party

Several of the major streaming services are now offering “watch party” features. This allows several people to seamlessly watch one movie synchronously, while being able to chat or talk in a sidebar.

3. … or go beyond holiday movies and attend a virtual concert or ballet

If you enjoy attending a holiday orchestra, jazz concert, or ballet during the holidays, you can still do that during the pandemic. Many performing arts groups are offering online shows this year (and some of them are free!).

4. Go all out with decorations

Christmas is often a popular time to decorate homes, but stay-at-home guidelines present an opportunity to kick it up a notch. Christmas decorating can even double as an art project if you include homemade decorations (see #7). You can even turn it into a neighborhood contest.

5. … or go admire everyone else’s decorations

Good news! Driving around to admire the lights on other people’s homes is still safe during COVID-19. If it’s nice out, try walking instead of driving (and don’t forget the mask and hot cocoa).

6. Arrange to donate meals for people in need

Unfortunately, the number of people experiencing food insecurity has increased during the pandemic. There are also a lot of people spending the holidays alone due to social distancing. One way to spread the Christmas spirit is by organizing donated meals for others.

7. Get artsy

Holiday art projects are great for kids and adults alike. Kids may especially enjoy cutting paper snowflakes and painting pinecones, while ambitious adults may enjoy making homemade wreaths. To keep the budget low, consider making an unconventional wreath with household items.

8. Step up your “tablescape” game

Eating with others you don’t live with is a high-risk activity, so experts recommend narrowing your holiday dinner guest list to just your household. To make the dinner “special,” look into festive table decor. Of course, trying to mimic the tables of Martha Stewart can be expensive. Luckily, you can make impressive and charming tables using items from around the house and yard, such as pine cones, pine branches, candles, or a string of lights. If you have kids, let them color placemats or make handmade place cards.

9. Move your usual Christmas activities online

Many of your usual holiday activities may be able to go virtual. For example, gift opening, ugly sweater parties, and Christmas morning brunch could all happen virtually.

This Christmas might not be “like the ones you used to know,” but your holiday can still be merry and bright. All it takes is some planning and a dash of open-mindedness.