The year has presented us with one new challenge after another. Many of us have struggled, but we can be proud that we’ve learned to adjust and adapt to new habits and routines. And with the festive season upon us, we should expect more of the same. Remember to keep yourself, your family, and your friends safe – and take good care of yourself – while you anticipate an atypical holiday this year.

New Order

Because of increasing COVID-19 numbers, Governor Tim Walz recently implemented Executive Order 20-99, which prohibits any social gatherings outside the household through December 18.

Whether or not you’re planning to celebrate early, you may have to get creative. But don’t worry; we’ve got some ideas.

Ways to Celebrate

So many of us are used to gathering with family or friends for the holidays, but that tradition may have to sit on the shelf (with the Elf) for 2020. Perhaps you’ll want to simply celebrate with those in your immediate household or take advantage of technology to connect with loved ones.

Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Stay home. Prepare a delicious holiday meal with those in your household.
  • Video chat with family and friends. Share recipes and prepare separate feasts but sit down and eat together virtually. Or open gifts together over FaceTime or Zoom.
  • Venture outdoors. Go curbside caroling to spread holiday cheer, or take a walk or a drive to marvel at festive lights and decorations with the people in your household.
  • Bake cookies. Deliver to the doorsteps of family, friends, or neighbors.
  • Get crafty. Have a craft night at home or color some printable holiday pages.

Once the Executive Order is lifted, get-together restrictions may or may not change. If you do host or attend an in-person celebration, please keep safety in mind:

  • Take precautions. Practice COVID protocols in the weeks leading up to your gathering and ask that your guests do the same. Wear masks and limit contact among guests.
  • Set limits. Keep the number of attendees low to allow for social distancing between members of different households. Also, longer gatherings pose more of a risk, so keep the duration of your event minimal.
  • Stay outside, if possible. Contact tracing has shown that indoor gatherings are the most common cause of transmission. Bundle up or gather outdoors next to a bonfire.
  • Have a back-up plan. If restrictions on gatherings remain in effect beyond the targeted December 18 date, you should have another plan set up. That could include any of the items listed above.
  • Reschedule. Another option is to wait until the weather warms up. Then you can celebrate the holiday outside with family and friends while maintaining social distancing and mask guidelines.

Managing an Atypical Holiday

Most aspects of this year’s holiday will seem different, and that may cause many of us to feel less festive. Or not festive at all. And you know what? That’s okay. Under the circumstances, that Bah! Humbug! feeling is perfectly acceptable.

While this feeling won’t last forever, it may surely seem that way. Focusing on little things each day can help lift your spirits, especially during the holiday season. If you’re feeling down or mentally overwhelmed, try finding balance with:

  • Exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins and other natural chemicals in the body that increase your sense of well-being.
  • Rest. Lack of sleep can adversely affect mood, so be sure to get your rest.
  • Less worry. Easier said, right? Try not to worry over things beyond your control. And all the stuff that doesn’t really matter? Skip it this year and avoid the added stress.
  • Lower expectations. An atypical holiday brings atypical expectations, so simply set them aside and see what happens. Remember, this is all new, so there is no standard this year.
  • Something new. Since we’re learning to celebrate in new ways, break “tradition” and do something different. Maybe you’ll find a fun and original way to ring in the holiday.
  • Support. Reach out to family and friends to keep your heart happy. Check in with your support system for conversation, a laugh, or even simply someone to listen.

Though none of this is how we expected our holiday to look or feel, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate together. The important thing is to stay connected, keep loved ones safe, and find ways to manage the atypical holiday this year. We hope these ideas provided some insight, and we want you to know that it’s perfectly okay to not feel joyful or jolly right now. If you’re feeling out of balance, the Calli Institute is always ready to listen and help. Please reach out.