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COVID-19 and Christmas: How to celebrate safely and merrily

The holidays sure do look different this year, but that doesn’t have to put a damper on your festivities. You can do many things, whether you are spending Christmas by yourself or with your immediate family. Regardless of how you celebrate this year, it’s essential to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While I don’t recommend visiting with your extended family this year, here are some quick guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wear a mask
  • Socially distance yourself if you are at an inside event
  • Provide antibacterial hand gel to your guest.

Now that we have that out the way, here are some fun things you can do to celebrate Christmas safely.

Decorate your home: We all know there are two types of people: Those who blast Christmas music on Nov. 1 at 12:01 a.m. and those who like to wait until after Thanksgiving. Regardless of when you start Christmas decorating, it’s great way to brighten up your home as well as your spirit. Put on a Christmas music playlist while you deck halls or put up your Christmas tree. Don’t forget to put up some lights outside! Gather your family and have a silly lighting ceremony to admire the bright lights and your hard work.

Practice acts of kindness: If Thanksgiving is the holiday for being grateful, then Christmas is the holiday for giving back. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the frenzy of Christmas shopping that we may forget there are others less fortunate than ourselves. And yes, there is always someone who doesn’t have it as good as you! This season, challenge yourself to do one small act of kindness a day for someone else. You can do things like paying for someone else’s coffee, preparing an extra lunch for a homeless person, asking someone how they have been holding up during the pandemic or letting someone know you appreciate them. Another great way to get your kids involved is to go to the toy store and have them help pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots. You can also donate to Ochsner through Amazon Smile while Christmas shopping!

Zoom Parties: Company and family Christmas parties are one of the best parts of the holiday season. This year, consider taking the parties to Zoom. Munch on some holiday snacks and seasonal drinks while you chat with your friends. You can even open secret Santa gifts that you mailed to your family or coworkers while on the call. Don’t forget to dress up just like you would at a typical holiday party. You can even host an ugly Christmas sweater contest!

Cookie or gingerbread house decorating: Cookie decorating is a fun activity and a great way to entertain young children. If you have time, you can make your sugar cookies from scratch or buy a kit. Use holiday shaped cookie cutters and have fun being as neat or messy as you want. For older children, gingerbread houses are the way to go! They will enjoy making a structurally sound houses while creatively decorating the exterior.

Write holiday cards: The holiday season is the perfect time to revive the art of writing thoughtful letters. If you can’t be near your loved ones, sending them a Christmas card will help bring you closer. Make a list of your friends and family and mail your letters throughout the month. Not only will it bring a smile to your friends’ faces but yours as well when they let you know they received your card. And who knows, maybe they’ll send you one right back!

Christmas movie night: There are so many new and classic holiday films to choose from nowadays. Turn it into a fun night with peppermint mocha lattes or cranberry chocolate chip cookies. This would also be a great time to wear your matching pajamas. If you live alone, plan to watch a Hallmark movie at the same time with your friends. Text or live-tweet your thoughts on how cheesy or great the movie is.

Drive to see the lights: Driving around neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights is a great and socially distant way to feel the wonder of the holiday season. Look up popular areas known for their light displays or check if your local park to see if they have a drive-through Christmas light display.

Scavenger hunt: No one forgets the magic of opening gifts is on Christmas morning. Make things more interesting by getting your kids to go on a scavenger hunt for their last gift. Give them a couple of clues and hide them around the house. They’ll have fun trying to decipher all the clues and you’ll enjoy them scurrying around the house.

Holiday brunch: Christmas day isn’t complete without a delicious brunch spread. Make your favorite breakfast dishes and add a yuletide twist like cranberries for garnish or snowman-shaped pancakes. Then go around your family table or Zoom call and talk about your favorite holiday memories or your hopes for the new year.

However you choose to celebrate the season, keep your health and safety at top of mind.

Dr. Andrew St. Martin is a family medicine physician in Laplace. He has bene practicing medicine for 19 years, and resides in Laplace with his wife and children. To schedule an appointment with him at Ochsner Health Center – LaPlace (735 W. 5th St., LaPlace), call 985-652-9504.