December 1, 2020
Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice or more… this year it is going to look different. Different doesn’t have to be bad though. It’s all about framing expectations and being creative; and to make this holiday season meaningful and memorable.
The current state of our Leeds, Grenville and Lanark area is we are in the GREEN-PROTECT level of Ontario’s COVID-19 Framework. We encourage people check this status through our social media channels and website when planning or before attending events.
Here are 2 things to focus on this year to celebrate and still stay safe:
- Make it More Intimate – With large gatherings on the ‘naughty-list’ – think small this year. Instead of large group lunches, dinners or parties, plan more personal ‘Secret-Santa’ type ideas that could involve random acts of kindness.
- Make it About Others – 2020 is the perfect time to think about those who are struggling. Challenge work-mates and family members to donate funds, gifts, food or other supplies to local charities. (see the ‘Tips for Giving’ section of our website)
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently careful to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home can increase the levels of risk. Here are some ideas on how to modify some of our traditions:
Instead of Large team pot luck or restaurant lunch… Try ordering take-out from everyone’s favourite local place. Space out the seats in the lunch room or bigger room in your office so everyone is 2m apart (may need to schedule in shifts or different days if there is not enough space). If people are working from home, book a virtual video meeting so you can still enjoy the social connections.
Instead of White Elephant gift exchanges where people gather in a large group and make a game of stealing gifts from each other… Try drawing names virtually (Secret Santa style) to still enjoy the gift giving and receiving without compromising physical distancing. Make this year about others. Partner with a local Long-Term Care home or retirement residence to give virtual messages/letters to the residents.
Instead of Office parties… Try making this the year that you do something different. Try Secret virtual messages, since many colleagues could be working from home, this could be festive messages, recipes, photos/videos, positive notes and compliments; Office/work team fundraisers for local charities; Holiday sweater/poem/story/photo contests – find a way to make 2020 even more memorable!
For Family Celebrations
Instead of a Family dinner… Try arranging a timed dinner with family via video calling so you can virtually eat together, regardless of location – across the country, with those in care, or even internationally.
Instead of Holiday baking with friends or family… Try making the same recipe with family or friends while video conferencing – like a virtual cooking show.
Instead of Holiday in-person visits… Try making time for virtual coffee or tea dates with friends and family or go walking or skating outdoors; Virtual countdown calendars (sending a message (email, text or DM) or mailing/dropping off messages to someone each day or week leading up to the holidays to keep things exciting).
Instead of Family in person gift exchange… Try mailing or dropping off gifts on doorstep; donating to local charities instead (we have a large section on our website with tips for giving).
For Community Celebration Ideas
Instead of a Holiday Parade… Try doing a tour of local decorations. Map out driving routes to see festive displays at homes and businesses.
Instead of Community gatherings with donations for food drives or other donation events… Try planning food drives to be no contact with drop off sites and physical distancing and masks for volunteers with small numbers (preferably the same household members) working on the food baskets; Doorstep drop-off family gift baskets/snowsuits. Note: ensure proper hand washing and cleaning is in place when handling food or when donating used items.
Instead of Holiday concerts… Try planning a virtual concert where physical distancing is in place for performers (minimizing the numbers as much as possible), and extra measures are followed if people are singing or playing wind instruments (like having solos).
IF You Do Decide to Plan a Small Gathering
Restrictions can change quickly. Currently, the private social gathering limits are 10 indoors or 25 outdoors. Be sure to check the latest status of our region before attending or planning any events. Any gatherings of people outside your household are higher risk for spreading COVID-19. Consider whether people are travelling, who is attending, where you are holding the event and other ways to reduce the risk involved with gathering. See more about this on our website.
As always if you do find that over the holidays you are not feeling well, stay home and do the self-assessment tool on the Ministry’s website. If you are required to get tested, visit the nearest Assessment Centre or call the Heath Unit for information about mobile testing.