No Holiday Gatherings? No Problem!!

By Christa Poirier RN, Public Health Nurse, Ottawa Public Health December 10, 2020

How many times have you heard the phrase “the holidays will be different this year”?  This saying is very true. That said, how do we actually have a fun and safe “different” holiday season?

The best way to stay positive and in the holiday spirit is to look at the things we CAN do rather than those we CAN’T do.  A perspective shift if you will.  It is recommended for us to stay 6 feet or 2 metres apart, to wear masks (3-layered if possible) when we can’t, not to gather with those outside our households unless we live alone. Are there things we CAN do that meet these recommendations?  How can our holiday season look both different and hopeful at the same time?

Here are some suggestions that have been put together from people in our own community:

Gather outside: So, we get to see each other in the great outdoors, meeting up for a walk or a hike.  We get to try out snow shoeing or check out a new trail in our area of the city! How about cutting down your own tree this season (legally of course) rather than buying it from a lot?  Have friends over for distanced hot chocolate and a snowman making contest.Decorate an outdoor tree with others in your family instead of the one inside your home. How about making snow angels or having fun colouring the snow? All of these are great ways to see friends and family, stay safer as outdoor meet ups are safer than those indoors, and still have fun!

Have fun virtually: this feels like an “old” idea so how can we make it new again?  What about a sing a along in a group chat? What about board games online? Oh! Online karaoke! Nobody can turn down a sing-a-long to Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Have you ever sent festive hand-written cards? Talk about old being new again! Your family can send cards to our service people who will be alone or away from family for the holidays. Do a gift drop off run and then open presents on video chat. 

Festive outdoor activities that are offered in Ottawa: Take a walk around your own neighbourhood to see all the lights and say hi to neighbours as you pass.  Take a car ride or bus ride to a different neighbourhood to see new and exciting home decorations! Go see the lights downtown and maybe get a Beavertail ($) while you are there ๐Ÿ˜Š Take a tour of Wesley Clover Parks exhibit of lights ($$). 

Get active with friends and family: try a new tobogganing hill – don’t forget your helmet! Hiking and snowshoeing on Ottawa area trails is fun and adventurous – make sure NOT to do this one alone ๐Ÿ˜Š We have amazing downhill and cross-country skiing in the National Capital.  Or for an adventure, try tubing – not for the faint of heart! Skating on the Rideau Canal, the Rink of Dreams, and the Skating Court at Lansdowne are all fun and festive! 

These are just a fraction of the wonderful things you can do this holiday season! “No indoor gatherings” seems like a downer but when you think of all the fun things you CAN do, it becomes an exciting and new opportunity!

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