How to Safely Celebrate the 2020 Holidays

An at-home guide to navigating one of the weirdest holiday seasons in history.


Alicia Hamm

The holidays are different this year, but they can still be enjoyable.

Let’s face it: This holiday season is going to be pretty different from years past.  December is usually filled with the anticipation of big gatherings, exciting gift exchanges, and lots of food.  Every winter I look forward to the precious week I get to spend in Massachusetts: a time for catching up with family, drinking too much hot chocolate, and forgetting about school for 10 days.  But then 2020 happened.

Since November, the United States has seen concerning spikes in the spread of coronavirus. NVOT also had multiple positive cases among students participating in hybrid learning, which led the school to go fully remote for weeks.  These recent events ruled out the possibility of a normal holiday season.  According to the CDC, the safest option is to stay home.  This is pretty devastating news, but it is better to stay home than to risk getting friends and family sick.

With that in mind, it is likely that many of us are going to be home for the holidays.  While spending winter break cooped up inside your house may not sound too appealing, here are some ways you can make the holidays more interesting:

Unleash your creativity and decorate the outside of your house.  Bring out your inner interior designer, too: Light some holiday-scented candles, put up string lights, or decorate to show what the holidays mean to you.  Organize and declutter so you can enjoy the holidays in a clean space.

Switch up some traditions.  If you have watched the same movie every Christmas for your entire life, pick a different one this year.  Play the holiday music remixes you never thought of listening to.

Take holiday-themed pictures of yourself, your family, or even objects around your house.  Get creative with backgrounds, and maybe even learn some new editing skills.

Take a step back and spend time with your family.  Experiment with cooking and baking.  Have a movie marathon together.  Dress up your pet in holiday attire.  Play a board game you haven’t touched in ten years.

Hold a Zoom party with friends and family.  Zoom and other similar platforms can do a pretty decent job of simulating normal gatherings, and the best part is that they are completely risk-free.

Extend your virtual celebrations to include people you would not usually celebrate with.  This can be a great time to reconnect and get closer with others.


Although indoor celebrations at this time are advised against, here are the precautions you should take in the case of an indoor gathering:

Make sure everyone has quarantined for fourteen days prior to the gathering, in addition to getting tested right before.

Choose an open space with good ventilation, and keep all windows open.

Wear a mask indoors at all times, except when eating or drinking.

Have everyone bring their own food, drinks, and utensils.

Limit the gathering to as few people as possible.

Stay as far away from others as you can, and avoid physical contact.


All in all, the winter of 2020 will probably turn out to be less enjoyable than what we expected.  Even though many of us had high hopes for a normal holiday season, especially after a pretty disappointing summer vacation, all we can do is make the best of it.  If we give up a little bit of what we are used to doing now in order to keep ourselves and others safe, we will have many rewarding holiday celebrations to look forward to in the future.