2020 has been, well, a year many Americans would love to forget. For just about every one of us, we will be navigating the holidays during a global pandemic. This new reality moving forward has many implications: do we travel, and if so, by what means? Are we celebrating with extended family or friends? Are we decorating this year? While these times may be difficult for many of us, we can continue to manage by continuing to open ourselves up to new ideas and focus on hope moving forward. 

Tips to Make Your Holidays Merry & Bright (That Don’t Require a Nasal Swab!)

2020 has been a real downer for many Americans. For most of us, we are living in a popcorn-munching comedy horror film from director Tim Burton, where synonyms like “strange” or “weird” don’t align with reality. In addition to the chaotic November elections, social unrest in many communities, and an overall sense of dread fueled by wildfires and hurricanes, we are still smack dab in the middle of a global health pandemic. No immediate change is on the horizon — masks, social distancing, and virtual gatherings will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

While celebrating this year may be difficult for some, the holiday season is full of joy, gratitude, giving, caring for, and spending time with those we love. This season, perhaps more than ever, let us be focused on hope. Here are ways to embody those characteristics no matter what type of gathering you plan on whether virtually, in person, or a hybrid model.


“For the good of others this holiday season, sideline any complacency,” explains Andrea Jowdy, an intensive care unit nurse and Director for Halos in Healthcare, “COVID-19 is permanently ingrained in our ecosystem for the foreseeable future, so research credible sources and continue everyday mitigation efforts such as washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer, employ social distancing regulations, and wear masks. Mitigation is the pathway forward.” Masks and social distancing save lives. Period. 

Giving new meaning to “home for the holidays” 

Remember when it was a badge of honor to show up for work sick because you thought someone would be impressed you could perform your duties while coughing up a lung? With a more lethal virus spreading among us, your “little fever” could harm coworkers, their families, and anyone susceptible.

Who’s got what

If you are traveling to see family or friends this holiday season – be wary. Check local positive testing rates and if they are higher at your destination, then you are more likely to be exposed.  How will that affect your regular circle of friends, family, and colleagues? It’s each of our jobs to eliminate risk when possible.

Give you your space 

More quarantining is a truly tough idea to digest. We are constantly on the move from work to home to the supermarket, parks, and gyms – all of the things that make us who we are. Avoiding exposure is key and while difficult, it can be done. If you’re planning a long trip consider the two-week period before as a trial run. Do your best to distance and avoid any situations for coming in contact with any airborne illness.

The more, the less merry

Plan small gatherings – if at all possible – this holiday season. It’s no secret that the larger the crowd, the more broad exposure to COVID-19 can be. Parents and grandparents are more susceptible than others, let’s protect them until a viable solution is delivered.

Discover the great outdoors 

Another tough ask, particularly for those living north of the Mason-Dixon line. For the rest of us, there’s little excuse. Being outdoors mitigates risk on a huge level. If we combine being outside with some level of distancing and cleanliness, we’re likely to have a much healthier holiday season.

Hands off of your face!

According to several studies, we touch our faces between four and fifteen times per hour. Those who wear glasses or have allergies likely do it more often. Your hands are a pathway to a plethora of bacteria and viruses to invade your body through any one of five entryways. Make a conscious effort to keep your hands not only clean but away from the mucus membranes that suck things in like a commercial vacuum.

If you could see it under a blue lamp, you’d understand 

Airports and airlines have done some key mitigation efforts to keep the skies safe and they appear to be working. Go the extra step – if you’re traveling by air or rail, bring a pocket Lysol and anti-bacterial wipes. Spray and or wipe down where you are sitting, all surfaces, and the restroom wherever it is. If you’re driving, rest stops are filthy. Wear a mask in and out and formidably disinfect before getting back to the car.


We need it now more than ever. Mental health is on the decline nationwide and we can find meaningful ways to gather during the holidays – even if it’s just virtually. Whatever the means you choose, do it safely, and protect those around you. Find your way to laughter, spark memorable comical stories on purpose, and know your part in keeping everyone around you safe.

Get tested

While we have laid out some tips to avoid the dreaded deep nose swab, getting tested is more crucial than ever. Free testing sites have popped up in every town, big and small. Rapid testing has expanded expeditiously. If you’re having any doubt about celebrating with loved ones, getting a rapid test is at least one way you can truly eliminate the possibility of spreading an illness. Consider it a gift to all humankind.

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