Hope for the Holidays: Tips for Safe, Smaller Celebrations

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Hope for the Holidays: Tips for Safe, Smaller Celebrations

The pandemic is disrupting cherished holiday traditions and family get-togethers. Try to beat back any glumness with some ingenuity – and a plan.


The year-end holidays will go on, but they’ll be different. Connecticut’s Department of Public Health provided some guidance for getting together. Highlights include:

  • Keep gatherings small and outdoors, if possible.
  • Restrict guests to your household.
  • Require use of masks and hand sanitizer; have extras on hand, if needed.
  • Use disposable utensils, cups, and plates, and individual packets for condiments or dressings.
  • Follow the latest travel restrictions for your state (CT | MA | NY).

Here are some other thoughts for how to enjoy the holidays while still following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A New Spin on Family Style

Propane heater and fire pit sales have soared. Many people are ready for outdoor gatherings. If you have one, create seating and dining areas for each household. Keep at least 6 feet between separate family units. Give each family their own serving utensils to avoid sharing. Remember to keep masks on when not eating and to store them safely while not in use.

Social Distance Potluck

Talk to neighbors or friends and family members who live close by to coordinate a distanced potluck. Everyone can choose a side—or dessert! —and make a big batch. Portion into reusable containers to drop off at the other houses. Then, schedule a video call with the group to enjoy your shared meal together.

Having a Plan Is Important

Many people expanded their inner circle this year to include neighbors or local friends. This core group, or “pod,” may have found safe ways to meet up and support one another. Talk to your pod to see if they want to celebrate “Podsgiving,” following all recommended safety guidelines.

You may choose to stay home by yourself. Try to set up calls or video chats throughout the day and arrange your meal in advance. A schedule can help you focus on connecting with others and finding joy in the day.

Creative Choices

A smaller group gives you the freedom to switch up the menu. Get a smaller turkey or just purchase thighs or a breast. Reduce the number of sides to just your favorites. Or, try something unconventional, like a Thanksgiving lover’s pizza or ham and cheese pizza. (These could also work for holiday leftovers.)

Putting a fun spin on your traditional favorites can help to make the meal special – and a memory to share next year around a crowded table.

Caring for Yourself

Making these adjustments may not be easy. Remember to be kind to yourself and focus on your mental health. You’re not alone, and we’re all figuring this out together. Ask for help if you need it and reach out to loved ones to see how you can help each other.

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