Given the nature of the pandemic, there is so much more to consider during this holiday season than usual. It will require a great deal of creativity in order to plan some happy and eventful holiday events this year. However, we all know that there are many reasons to try and remain safe.

The past nine months have been stressful for everyone, and now that we are seeing some of the strongest effects of the pandemic the potential for gatherings is smaller than ever. Even gathering with close family and friends would include meeting with those outside your “bubble.” And maintaining a tight bubble has become more important than ever.

So, you need to be sure that your holiday plans are modified to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy and safe. Luckily, there are plenty of CDC guidelines that can help with a safe and healthy event, while you also need to follow any state or local regulations that are already in place.

There are many people who should definitely not attend in-person holiday gatherings while we face the COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, no one should attend an event if they have tested positive or been exposed. Even if you are the hosting home and find this out about any member of your immediate home, then the event should be canceled or relocated. We all know that people eventually get over the virus, but anyone who is still sort of “in waiting” for safely being around others after their recovery or even is waiting for test results.

With all of the possible chances that the slightest exposure to others who we aren’t sure may have the virus, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Especially when considering the seniors in your family who would be hit hardest. So, there is nothing that says you must meet in person in order to celebrate, just be a little creative!

Experienced party planners have some of the following options to offer:

1. Send everyone a “build your own tacky sweater” kit.

2. Try an online, delivered gift exchange.

3. Have a game session over video chat.

4. Bake treats for friends and neighbors.

5. Cook the same meal over video chat.

6. Bundle up, grab a thermos of hot tea or coffee, and go for a walk.

7. Create new traditions on video chat.

If you do plan to visit relatives in-person this year, please be sure to follow tips for traveling safely, mostly within the CDC’s guidelines for indoor celebrations. If you decide to stay home alone for the season, it is also important to keep up with your own mental health and be ready for life after the pandemic!