Well, it’s getting to be that time of year. Unbelievably so. If you’d have told anyone back in March that we’d be here now, planning for a socially distanced, mask-wearing holiday season, we’d all have laughed it off.
But if there’s anything 2020 has taught us all, it’s that we’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. And if that’s not a great gift of self-awareness, then nothing is.
Still, this means one very serious thing: holiday planning needs to be taken care of with plenty of time to spare to ensure both safety, and hiccup-free celebrations.
Here are four tips for a merry COVID holiday season:
1. Shop early, return or contact customer service later
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a little different this year. They’re pushing toward an online shopping experience as much as possible, which means crashing websites, check-out problems, and of course, the dreaded “out of stock” messages.
So, assuming you wait to do your shopping until then, you’re looking at a 50/50 chance of actually getting things crossed off your holiday shopping list. Not every good odds.
It’s no wonder most stores have been offering decently good sales leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Everything from 30% off gift cards to $25 on purchases of $50 or more have been seen already. Plenty of free-shipping options and extended windows for returns and exchanges (through January 2021) are popping up.
The best course of action? Shop now, shop early, and then wait for the bigger-ticket items you know have a high chance of going on sale for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Everything else ― anything smaller or limited edition ― get it now.
If you need to return anything, or get a price difference, you can do that later, through customer service chats online, or support lines.
2. Rearrange your home if you’re hosting
Since social distancing is the key to slow spreading of the virus, the idea here is to move non-essential furniture out of the main areas of your home (where guests will be hanging out) so people can spread out farther. Ventilate these areas too, with open windows and doors.
If you live in a small home, designate the first floor, or the biggest room or two you have, and temporarily move furniture out. Leave seating and a table or two behind for food and drinks.
From there, make sure everyone has access to a few things:
- Disposable masks
- Hand sanitizer
- A sink and hand soap
- Gloves for food serving (ideally, all buffet-style meals should be eliminated; opt for individually packaged snacks and meal options instead)
- Access to the outdoors if wearing a mask becomes too unbearable due to medical conditions or just sheer comfort (a few minutes without a mask, away from others, can serve as a bit of a reset)
3. Always be prepared
If you’re attending someone’s holiday party or gathering, bring your own hand sanitizer, mask and fresh pair of latex gloves if you feel like you need them. Counting on the host to provide these items is logical, but not totally commonplace, so it’s better safe than sorry.
If you’re unsure of what to bring, you can always ask the host. They might be able to provide further specific information to determine what you might need.
4. Go with the flow
Most of all, remember that anything is possible. You could plan this get-together for months, only for the whole thing to be cancelled. Maybe no one shows up, or just two people make it. That’s all OK.
These are difficult times, and expecting anyone to get it all 100% perfect just isn’t fair. The most you can do is be easy on yourself, and others, by accepting that anything can change last minute. Just make sure to have a back-up plan for your back-up plan, and you’ll be able to pivot accordingly.
— By Jennifer Mendez
Jennifer Mendez is a content creator and Lynnwood resident who specializes in copy, graphic design and photography for her clients. Whenever she’s not creating something, she’s exploring new places to eat in the area.