This holiday season will be unlike any holiday season before. Canadians are being urged to have small gatherings this year and only celebrate with members of their own household. After nine months of social distancing, it feels cruel to not be able to share the holidays with our loved ones like we usually do. But just because this season will be different, it doesn’t mean we can’t find new ways to enjoy this time of year.
We’ve put together some tips and tricks that will help you celebrate the holidays safely during COVID. Keep reading to learn more about how to make the most of the holidays this year.
Things to consider during celebrations
When you’re planning this year’s holiday celebration, it’s important to carefully consider the rates of COVID in your community. Restrictions vary depending on what part of Canada you live in. Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, tweeted that:
This year, holiday gatherings and celebrations will vary based on the spread of #COVID19 in your community. Check with your local public health authority for recommendations specific for your area on gathering size limits and event cancellations. Provincial and territorial resources for COVID-19
— Dr. Theresa Tam (@CPHO_Canada) November 30, 2020
Some provinces like Ontario and Quebec have already requested residents celebrate only with their immediate family. Other provinces have not issued restrictions, but may do so in the coming weeks. Other provinces with lower rates of COVID-19 may have less restrictions.
It’s important to check with your local public health authority for recommendations in your specific area. Follow their advice to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Types of people who should avoid going out
According to the Government of Canada, certain people should stay home no matter what the rates of COVID-19 are in their community. Please stay home if any of the following apply to you:
- People with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. (Fora list of symptoms associated with COVID-19, view the Government of Canada's symptoms page).
- People waiting for tests results.
- People who have been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID.
- People who are immunocompromised or who have a greater risk of suffering from complications due to COVID-19. (According to the World Health Organization, people over the age of 60 and those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer are at a higher risk of getting severe COVID-19.)
If any of the points above apply to you, please stay home and limit your contact with others as much as possible. Keep in mind: this isn’t forever! It’s only a measure you need to take temporarily to protect yourself and others.
How do I tell my family I’m not celebrating Christmas with them because of COVID?
If you have decided to celebrate the holidays only with the people in your household, the hardest part might be sharing the news with your extended family. Here are some tips on how to break the news to them:
- Don’t think of it as Christmas is cancelled – it’s just postponed! Tell your family you can celebrate the holidays together once it’s safe to do so.
- Put health at the forefront. Tell your family it’s not that you don’t want to see them. It’s about making sure they stay safe and healthy so you can celebrate the holidays together for years to come.
- Don’t put off breaking the news. Tell your extended family you won’t be coming over as soon as possible. This will give them more time to accept that the holidays will be a little different this year.
- Be firm but kind. If you’ve made up your mind to celebrate the holidays only with the people you live with, here’s what you can say: “I love our usual holiday celebrations. However, gatherings just aren’t safe this year. I’ve decided to celebrate the holidays only with the people in my home.”
How can I celebrate the holidays during COVID if I live alone?
According to Statistics Canada, 28% of Canadians live alone. In most provinces, folks who live alone can visit one family or individual. The rules vary from province to province, so check the regulations where you live.
How can I celebrate the holidays during COVID?
Here are a few ways you can celebrate this year while keeping your distance:
- Go on a drive with the people you live with to admire the Christmas lights around your community. Make it a contest with your friends, family and neighbours to see who can create the best display.
- Just because you can’t eat together doesn’t mean you can’t eat at all! Drop off a Christmas meal or some Christmas cookies at your aunt’s, uncle’s cousin’s or grandparent’s place. If you’re not the cook of the family, try suggesting they drop off a meal at your house instead ;)
- Why not start a new tradition? Instead of cooking a big meal, consider getting take out from a local restaurant.
- Take advantage of technology. You can use video chat to open presents together, decorate cookies and play games.
- Do you think about sending out holiday cards every year and then never get around to it? Make it a priority this year! Sending and receiving holiday cards will be extra special in 2020.
- Take some time to decorate your home for the holidays. Even if you’re not usually the type of person to put up a tree or lights, consider doing it this year. It might bring a little extra bit of cheer into your life!
Hosting during the holidays safely during COVID
If you are living in an area where it’s ok to gather in small groups outside of your immediate family, or if you’re hosting an individual who lives alone, here are a few tips to ensure you and your guests stay safe:
- Remind your guests to stay home if they feel sick.
- Wash your hands often and encourage your guests to do the same.
- Limit the number of people handling and serving food.
- Stay six feet away from those who do not live in your household. Plan seating arrangements before your guests arrive to ensure physical distancing is observed. If your home is not big enough to allow people to stay six feet apart, consider a virtual event instead.
- Have hand sanitizer available for your guests.
- Open the windows to increase ventilation. (Tell your guests to dress warmly.)
- Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as faucets, counters and doorknobs.
Stay safe this holiday season
The most important thing this holiday season is staying safe. Limit your outings as much as possible. Stay up to date on the most recent advice from your local public health authority. Get creative and find new ways to celebrate the holidays. Keep in mind that this is temporary! One day soon we will be able to see each other in person and celebrate.
To learn more about what BrokerLink is doing to keep customers and employees safe, see our COVID-19 update.
FAQs on safely celebrating the holidays during COVID-19
Are small gatherings safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
According to the Government of Canada, the safest way to celebrate the holidays this year is with members of your immediate household only. Depending on where you live in Canada, small gatherings outside of your immediate household may be acceptable. Check with your local health authority to learn what is recommended in your community.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food?
According to the World Health Organization, there is currently no evidence people can catch COVID-19 from food.
What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
According to the World Health Organization, the median time from onset of COVID-19 to recovery is about two weeks for mild cases. That increases to three to six weeks for more serious cases.