Covid19 & Connecting (Holiday Edition)

Winter is upon us and whatever holidays you celebrate or markers of time passing you acknowledge, there is usually an element of traditions, gathering with loved ones, special food and gift or token giving involved. All of that will look somewhat different this year, there’s no doubt about that, and there are still many options for connecting with each other and reflecting on the previous year.

What are some Activities you can do with low/no risk?

Video calls

We’re all a little zoned and zoomed out, but it’s a great way to connect with others while we can’t be together in person. Some tips for feeling connected through a screen while avoiding zoom-eyes:

  • Using a laptop is better than your phone since you’ll be able to see more people at once and/or larger image.
  • Get comfy! Lean against something, sit somewhere cozy, grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, have your fav blanket/stuffy/pet nearby! This can help make this is a nice, warm special moment.
  • Situate yourself so you are back from your screen a little and are able to take in your own surroundings, the room around you, the stuff on the surfaces or walls or floor around you and past your monitor. This can help ground you in your own space.
  • When you first sign on with someone(s), think about how they are a real, live, whole entire person with a whole real life, just like you! Imagine their whole body existing, take in their surroundings, imagine them being in that space wholly, not just their shoulders and head – place them in their space and just think for a moment that they are a real person, not something you’re watching on tv or a work meeting or class you’re half paying attention to.
  • Hide your own video box! We know how distracting our own face is and we want to make sure we’re looking our best, but this is such a weird thing that we don’t do in real life and it’s really hard to focus on your loved one(s) if you’re staring at your own reflecting the whole time. You’re hot and beautiful and your people love you.
  • When you’re talking, look at your camera & when you’re listening look at the person who’s talking. This will help you be seen and see those you’re connecting with better.
  • You don’t have to stare at the camera the whole time! Feel free to look away from your screen, cast your eyes downward sometimes, move your neck around, etc. Do what you need to do if you’re getting fatigued, a headache, or feeling your attention leaving.
  • You can have something between a phone call and a video call, by all parties agreeing to video chat, but also be doing something else while that’s happening, so there’s no pressure from anyone to constantly stare at the screen and have that ‘I’m on video’ smile plastered on your face – that shit takes a lot of energy! Some fo these activities might include:
    • Watch party – watch a video together through social media and chat and react to what you’re watching while both watching at the same time (some options: Gaze, Netflix Party, Facebook – there’s more!) or, mute but press play at the same time and text with each other about what you’re watching.
    • Read a story/book remotely together – each have the same book and take turns reading a page or chapter.
    • Online games – there’s so many options and ways of doing this! Jackbox, HouseParty, anything you can play online while simultaneously using a video or streaming feature (Discord, Twitch, etc.)
    • Do a craft or art activity together online – colour, paint, use modelling clay, do needle crafts, knitting, crochet, with friends you want to catch up with – no pressure to look at the screen because you’re each doing your own thing, but you can still hold stuff up to show what you’re working on and get some face time in with each other too.
    • Bake or cook together online – this one might be a little trickier, but you can still do holiday baking or prepare that special dish with loved ones and even though it’s not the same, the effort you put into and the fact that you’re still doing this together, smelling the same smells and enjoying the same flavours together means these traditions still happened, but in a different way this year. Smell is one of the biggest memory triggers and the smells of cinnamon and vanilla are scientifically proven to make people more calm and relaxed!
    • At-home spa day – All genders can do with some pampering! Grab a face scrub and mask (or a recipe for DIY scrubs / vegan scrubs and masks/vegan masks), nail care tools (clippers, files, buffers, polish, stickers) & get your day spa on while catching up with your bestie, sibling, parent – just like you might in the Before Times, but from the comfort of your own home!
    • Scavenger Hunts – everyone take turns creating a list or naming things for everyone to go find and bring back to show and tell! This can be easy stuff (favourite holiday decoration, silliest ornament, something you’d like to replace, etc.) or more thought-provoking (holiday-inspired like favourite holiday tradition, favourite holiday song, fav holiday outfit/accessory, or otherwise: favourite book, something that is sentimental for you, something that represents love/hope/support, etc.). This helps energise folks and move away from the screen for a bit as well as stimulates people in their own surroundings and gets people talking!

Outdoor activities (2 households max, distancing with masks on):

  • Skating – public ice rinks are open, most you need to book in advance, each household must make their own booking, but it’s pretty easy!
  • Walks & hikes – lots of trails are open, though be mindful to move aside when passing others and keep your distance from your friends and fam from different households. Neighbourhood walks to look at lights and decorations are also a fun tradition to keep up or start.
  • Skiing – some hills are open for now, and there’s some decent cross country skiing even in the city if you’ve got your own skiis (or snow shoes!)

Higher risk activities (compared to the above): 

  • Food and drinks with people from another household, even outdoors still carries risk since masks are off for these activities.
  • Any gathering with more than 2 households is higher risk since it opens up the bubble.
  • Any indoor visiting, including timing essential shopping to line up with friends or family, even with masks on. This may seem like a good way to get around the rules and precautions but these are in place to not only keep you safe, but to keep others safe as well.

Gift Giving – What are some covid-safer options for gift giving this year? 

  • Donations in someone’s name
  • Order from local shops doing deliveries
  • A cookie delivery from a local bakery or a porch drop from you
  • Porch drop of gifts with no contact
  • Gift card in the mail
  • Write a meaningful letter, include plans you would normally be doing and hope to do again with them
  • Make a photo book (digital or irl, hand made or ordered and delivered)

We think it’s worth noting that some of these options would be a delightful way to give gifts even in the future to reduce the stress of holiday shopping and focus more on special homemade and/or local gifts or making donations that are meaningful to you and the other person. 

Additional Links: 

How to Have Zoom Parties that are Actually Fun

How to Make the Most of Covid Winter

Does this mean Christmas is cancelled? Your COVID-19 questions answered

COVID-19 can linger on some surfaces. What does that mean for gift giving this holiday season?

Gift-giving etiquette during COVID-19: What to consider during the holidays