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7 creative ways to celebrate the holidays safely during COVID-19

By Emilie Poplett | November 11, 2020 | 4 min read | Healthy Lifestyle, Coronavirus

To keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from COVID-19, many of us are staying home for the holidays this year. The CDC has put out guidelines for planning our winter holidays that typically involve large gatherings of family and friends, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and New Year’s. And North Carolina remains in Phase 3 of COVID-19 precautions, which limits indoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

While this year will undoubtedly look different from years past, our holiday celebrations can still be meaningful and enjoyable.

We want to help you have a safe, healthy and fun holiday season. So, we asked Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina employees for some creative ideas to enjoy the season, 2020-style. Here’s what they said.

1. Send everyone a “build your own tacky sweater” kit.

You can buy these online or make your own. If making your own, try supplies like felt, buttons, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, stickers and a sewing kit! Then connect with your family or friends on video chat for crafting sessions leading up to the holidays.

2. Try a gift exchange.

You can use websites to draw names, Secret Santa style. Send gifts leading up to the holidays and open them together on camera. Leave clues in each package as to who you are, but don’t put a return address on them. See how many gifts it takes to guess who the gifter is!

Christmas online holiday remote celebration

3. Have a game session over video chat.

One employee recommends a quiz game called Kahoot that you can play on your phone. You can also find virtual escape rooms, trivia games, scavenger hunts and murder mystery parties online.

4. Bake treats for friends and neighbors.

Bake your favorite muffins, breads or scones and deliver them to neighbors and area friends. Guaranteed to give you a sense of holiday cheer! One Blue Cross NC employee plans to work with her virtual Bible study group to prepare a Thanksgiving meal and drop it off at a local women’s shelter.

5. Cook the same meal over video chat.

One of our employees, Michael Dolan, has been celebrating this way for years. “For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we setup a facetime call on a laptop connected to an external monitor sitting on the kitchen counter. A really LONG facetime call!” he said. “My daughter in NY cooks the exact same dish my wife is making in real time. We move the monitor to the end of the table when we sit down to eat, and it’s almost like she’s there with us. One tip that made the experience much better for us, was to connect a small external speaker to the laptop (both on our end and hers) and the conversations were much more natural sounding.”

6. Bundle up, grab a thermos of hot tea or coffee, and go for a walk.

The winter season doesn’t have to mean outdoor get-togethers end. If you live near your family, this is a relatively safe way to spend time with them in person. Put on your hat, gloves, and coat and head outside for some fresh air. Just make sure to stay six feet apart.

7. Create new traditions on video chat.

One of our employees played virtual freeze dance with themed music for Halloween, followed by story time for the kids. “The kids would like to repeat for Thanksgiving, Christmas and probably New Year’s Eve, too,” she said. “I’m thinking of doing some sort of gratitude sharing for Thanksgiving, cookie decorating for Christmas *send everyone the same kit) and sharing resolutions for New Year’s.”

If you do plan to visit relatives in-person this year, see our tips for traveling safely, and make sure to review the CDC’s guidelines for indoor celebrations.

If you are staying home this year, remember to take good care of your mental health. Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread and keep your loved ones healthy and safe.