How can you celebrate Christmas safely during COVID? Experts offer some tips

If COVID-19 has halted your large Christmas gathering, there are still ways to celebrate.

As coronavirus cases rise, health experts recommend people skip holiday travel due to the possibility of spreading the disease. This year, it’s safest to stay home and spend Christmas with people who live with you, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But that doesn’t mean your family has to scrap gift exchanges and other seasonal traditions, experts say. Here are some alternate ways to celebrate.

Online gift giving

For people who want scaled-back festivities, the CDC recommends using the internet to help coordinate gift giving.

To start planning, health experts suggest people avoid crowded stores and instead buy gifts online. Shoppers may want to check if companies can send holiday trinkets directly to their relatives, according to Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts.

“Exchange gifts with loved ones via mail or contactless drop-offs — bonus points if you purchase items from small, independent businesses,” the University of Pennsylvania Health System said on its blog.

After gifts arrive, relatives who don’t live in the same household can still see their loved one’s reactions. The CDC suggests families can hold virtual calls to open presents together.

Putting up decorations

While at home, other activities can add cheer to the holiday season, experts say.

One idea is for families to put up holiday decorations and take festive photos around the house. It’s also possible to make home decor and other Christmas crafts while on a video call with loved ones, according to the CDC.

Missing your favorite Christmas tunes? Another tip is to organize a virtual singing and dancing session.

Other video chat ideas from the CDC include a remote ugly sweater contest and calls to show off holiday dishes.

The holidays may be a good time to experiment with new recipes and make treats that safely can be delivered to others, according to the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Getting outside

There are opportunities to celebrate the season outside the home, too.

“Go sledding or ice skating, or take a wintry walk or hike,” the blog post said. “Remember to stay masked and distanced.”

The CDC suggests people who live in areas that get snow “hold a snowman or snow angel contest with neighbors”

While outside, experts say another option is to walk or drive around to check out holiday lights. Some communities this year are offering displays that can be appreciated without leaving the car.

Before going to in-person religious services, volunteer opportunities and Santa visits, the CDC recommends people consider safety precautions to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

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