Your feelings about these year’s holidays are very special and personal. They can cause us to feel extremely happy, sad or ambivalent as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has certainly disrupted a lot of activities this year, and yes, it is also going to disrupt the way people celebrate the festivities this year.
Already, many nations such as the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have been on lockdown again due to the second wave of the pandemic.
In Nigeria too, so many states like Lagos, FCT and Ebonyi have again banned large gatherings due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The various state governments have also asked the people to comply with COVID-19 protocols like wearing of face masks, handwashing with soap and running water, and social distancing.
With the COVID-19 second wave, how the people celebrate the holidays are definitely going to be different this season. For instance, unnecessary travels have been discouraged, which means families who usually hold annual parties may not do so this year.
However, the pandemic does not mean that the festivities should not hold. It only requires creativity to have fun-filled festivities during these times.
The key thing during this period is to keep the celebrations small or virtual. In fact, the safest option this year is to celebrate the holidays only with members of your own household.
If you want to connect with other loved ones, you can host a virtual event. You can chat while eating, play games, and see each other’s holiday decorations, or even share recipes.
The following are other ways to enjoy the holidays while protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Travel to an imaginary vacation spot in your home
Sometimes, one doesn’t have to travel to catch fun. In fact, you may not need to step out of your home to have fun and be happy. During this season, you can come up with themed rooms, special foods, and fun activities that you would traditionally do at your favourite vacation spot.
According to experts at Carpet One, an interior decoration company based in the United States, creating a themed room is one of the most fun projects when it comes to interior design.
Should you want your room to be travel-, beach-, or city-inspired, there are tips available online that will help you create whatever you want your home to look like.
Make decorations with your kids
Some psychologists believe that decorating has a way of brightening people’s spirits. So while probably staying indoors during the holidays, you can engage in decorations with your kids. Note that decorating your home for the season needs not be expensive. A day or two is all you will need to transform your home into a wonderland. Don’t forget to work together with your children while decorating, making it a beautiful bonding activity.
Have an outdoor event with your household
You don’t need to go out to have an outdoor event. The space at your backyard is enough to create an outdoor event for your family. You can make an event of watching sports, TV series or movies from the comfort of your own home. Set up an outdoor cozy space with pillows and blankets and snacks. If it’s not too cold, enjoy the entertainment from your yard.
Do virtual party with your family and friends
One thing about these times is how normal it is becoming to virtually gather with far-away family members and friends.
Before the pandemic, if someone couldn’t make a holiday gathering with family and friends, they would be missed. But now, family members can all hop onto any of the virtual meeting platforms like Zoom to hold an event.
With a virtual meeting, American lifestyle writer Natasha Burton said family members could hold a costume contest, sing Christmas carols together, and share whatever they were grateful for.
Play games with your children
Games have a way of creating bonding among people. So while you may be unable to take your children to parks or museums, you can use this season to teach them the board games you played when you were a kid and then you can play the games together. You can also have a virtual game night with your family and friends.
Spread kindness among your neighbourhood
You can still move around your neighbourhood while taking the necessary precautions to spread love during the festivities. You and your children can design holiday cards and distribute them to your neighbours. Whatever gifts you also want to distribute, always ensure you do so while wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Experts at the University of Birmingham, UK, also stated that good neighbouring at this time might seem an unusual suggestion given the current social distancing recommendations.
However, they said it was important for people to give some of their time to checking in on neighbours who may be alone, elderly or in one of the at-risk categories.
“This could involve dropping some groceries outside their door to help them maintain their physical and mental well-being, or maybe organising a virtual meet-up where they have access to the relevant technology or a simple phone call. We all have more time on our hands currently, and giving some of this time to others can be most rewarding,” the experts said.
Learn something new
Learning something new and taking up a new hobby is a good way to spend the holiday period during the pandemic. There is a wide range of things one can do within the home, from learning to play an instrument, learning a language, learning how to cook, learning to appreciate the arts, among others.
Meanwhile, experts at Johns Hopkins Hospital, US, advised trying one’s best to make good food choices and relax to restore energy. “Your endurance will be better if you can stick to your daily routine as much as possible, including exercise,” they said.
Pamper your spouse with a special experience
Jeanette Marantos and Lisa Boone of the Los Angeles Times, in their article, said despite the pandemic, one could pamper one’s spouse with a special experience. They wrote,
“Make a pact with your partner or spouse to give an experience this year. If your husband loves cuddling by a fire at the beach, give him a tub filled with kindling, a cosy blanket and something lovely to sip, along with a specific date for the outing.
“If your wife loves long walks, research the best hikes in your area and set up a date. Include a map of your destination and make a reservation at a nearby restaurant with outdoor seating.”
Also, one could make this season a memorable one by writing a heartfelt letter to one’s spouse.
“Give your partner or spouse a letter outlining all the reasons he or she is important to you, and be specific. The infectious way he laughs, the way her eyes catch the light, his corny jokes or her terrific sense of style. Write it on your nicest stationery and scent the envelope with his or her favourite fragrance,” Marantos and Boone said.
Create a photo memory book
Another way to have fun during these times is to create a photo memory book. Marantos and Boone advised to dig out old family photos and create a personalised book for each of your siblings and/or your parents.
Firms like Good Housekeeping have reviewed some of the best photo-book makers on their websites, but you can also make copies of your treasured photos and put them into old-fashioned photo albums. Be sure to purchase albums with acid-free pages to protect those photos.
Take precautions during gatherings
As it is virtually impossible to prevent people from holding small gatherings, experts advised that everyone involved in such a gathering should be scrupulous about “good COVID-19 behaviour.”
An assistant professor of infectious disease at Wayne State University, Michigan, US, Gretchen Newman, advised wearing face masks, social distancing and reducing contact with people from outside the home as much as possible.
Another infectious disease researcher at the University of California, Marm Kilpatrick, said the least risky way was to avoid all in-person social contact, and then drive to the gathering while being careful about interactions along the way.
“If conducted carefully, this strategy can substantially lower risks of transmission,” Kilpatrick told Scientific American, however, noting that only a few people could pull this off.
Steps to take if exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday gathering
If exposed to COVID-19 at a holiday gathering, while travelling, or at any time, organisations like the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control advised to take the following steps to protect others:
- The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay at home for 14 days if you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19
- Stay away from others, especially people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
- Watch for fever (100.4°F or higher), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
- Consider getting tested for COVID-19. Even if you test negative for COVID-19 or feel healthy, you should still stay home (quarantine) for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19. This is because symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and some infected people never have symptoms but are still contagious
- Do not travel until 14 days after your last possible exposure. If you can’t completely stay away from others during the 14 days, stay at least six feet (about two arm lengths) away from other people; wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose when you are around other people or pets; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitisers containing at least 6o per cent alcohol; monitor yourself and household members for symptoms of COVID-19; and get information about COVID-19 testing if you feel sick
- If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 within 14 days of the event or celebration, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately notify the host and others in attendance. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus
- Contact the NCDC and follow the recommended steps for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.