How to Stay Connected and Survive the Holidays During the COVID Pandemic

As we are approaching the end of December, we normally would be in the frenzy of the holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, and Kwanzaa, among the big names.

However, with this year being unusual due to the corona virus, the usual frenzy has magnified with most of our routines being tossed out the window as we cannot visit family or friends due to the restrictions in place at some locations.

Here are some tips of how to survive this year’s holiday and future seasons if you are spending it in quarantine or away from family.

Get Creative with Video Calls

Spend time with your family or friends on a video call. You can use Zoom, Google Meet, Facebook Messenger/Rooms, Skype, or other apps to do a video calls for free.

Here are some ways you can use video chats to celebrate together while social distancing:

  1. Set up a tripod or prop up the phone against a stack of books and have dinner together. You’re all at the table at the same time, at least.
  2. Watch movies together with screen sharing, like A Christmas Story, Muppet Christmas Carol, or even something ironically anti-holiday.
  3. Also, you can do a sing along or karaoke of your favorite holiday songs like Jingle Bells or Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.
  4. Have an ugly sweater contest.
  5. For New Year’s, you could do a ball drop and countdown on video call, even across time zones.
  6. Give your family a walk or drive around the block and a tour of your home to show off the holiday lights and decorations.

Use Social Media and Hashtags to Build New Traditions

1. Recreate childhood photos and make a hashtag with former classmates or family members you only see during holidays (eg. #BHSClassOf98Flashbacks or #CarterFamilyThrowbacks2020)

2. Do a daily countdown until the end of 2020, photo-journaling the odd and creative ways you’re spending your time in quarantine. (eg. #Smith2020Countdown)

3. Create a challenge for your family or friends to all do a certain craft or art project and hashtag it. It can be something original or something nostalgic. Set the materials list (paper plates, toilet tissue rolls, pipe cleaners, sequins, popsicle sticks, etc.) or leave it open. Post your creations with the agreed-upon hashtag.

4. Do a charity challenge and get together to all contribute to something charitable. This could be going through your coat closet and preparing all your gently-used warm clothes for donation, all chipping in to donate to a favorite nonprofit, or finding another COVID-safe way for everyone to be in the giving spirit together. You can use your social media to help fundraise.

5. Re-write popular holiday songs or stories as if they happened during 2020. Make a contest of it, and everyone can chip in a small amount (like $5) for the winner.

Relish the Alone Time

Take some time to connect with yourself and do some self care. 2020 has been hard on everyone. Drink cocoa or tea and listen to music or read a book while sitting next to a fire– or a video of a fire.

I walk around my neighborhood most nights after dinner to get in some exercise, and it cheers me up looking at the lights and decorations; however, please remember to keep your social distancing if you are walking.

You can also bake cookies and other baked goods to go with the cocoa and/or tea.

Gift by Mail

You can order gifts for your family and friends online at shops from major retailers like Amazon and Target, or support small businesses and creative individuals on marketplaces like Etsy or small retailers like WxShed.com.

If you’re struggling with executive functioning or don’t know what to buy, you can send holiday cards to your family and friends and include a gift card. If it’s last minute, that’s okay. Many retailers send them electronically to email addresses.

I am planning on or already have done some of these tips myself, and I hope that something in here is helpful to you. 2020 has been very hard for all of us, and it’s okay to let go of expectations and forgive yourself for not being able to afford gifts or muster the holiday enthusiasm to do everything you wanted to do.

Make your goal for the rest of 2020 to be survival, and everything you do on top of that is extra. You may even find that you create new traditions and lose some of the stale traditions you never really enjoyed anyway.

If you want to see the episode of my vlog, Weathering the Autism Storm, on these tips, scroll down to the bottom and click on the link

Have a safe holiday season!

Image description: I (JP Kalb, aka Weathering the Autism Storm), a young white man with short auburn hair, am holding a candy cane and a box of Christmas Cards.

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