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Senior couple having a virtual party with family on Christmas day.

Always check and follow CDC Guidelines and County Regulations.

As of October 9, 2020, outdoor private gatherings are allowed under the following conditions:

  • Attendees must be from no more than 3 separate households
  • Duration should be 2 hours or less

At any gathering, observe these safety protocols:

  • Wear a mask, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands frequently
  • Do not attend if you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Do not attend if you are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (seniors, those with certain medical conditions)

Read more details in the state’s private gatherings guidance. Be aware that local health departments may have additional restrictions.

The thought of celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays this year without being with our older relatives due to COVID-19 is one of the biggest inconveniences of our lifetimes. It can also be a wistful time, especially with seniors depending on the holidays to congregate with family. Is there a way to celebrate holidays safely this year?

You may be going through a similar situation with your aging parents or relatives. As much as you wish you could be with them for the holidays, the risk is too great this year of potentially spreading the virus.

All is not lost, though. Thanks to technology and other creative means, celebrating the holidays safely from a distance is more than possible. Check out this how-to on ways you can go about it with your senior parents, so it feels like you are in the same room.

Use Video Chatting Apps

Some popular video chatting apps might become confusing to use for those who want to chat virtually. Zoom is easy to use and one that won't require too much complication for your parents.

If they already use a computer to do basic tasks, they can download the Zoom app easily and begin using it with the proper equipment. Buy them a quality camera and headset to use for chatting as an early holiday present.

These can easily be delivered while you guide them on setup over the phone. Or, if they're really tech-challenged, simpler video chat options are certainly available.

Most experts agree built-in Apple apps like FaceTime work just as well. If your parents have an Apple device, they already have everything they need. Cameras are already built into iPhones, iPads, and iMacs.

Try No-Contact Food Delivery

One way to have virtual dinners together is to send them no-contact food deliveries from various catering services. Many of these companies are going to operate during the holidays to accommodate those who can't go out or maybe can't prepare extensive dinners themselves.

Meal kit deliveries are one good way to bring that food to them. Food kits provide all essential ingredients, though allow seniors to still prepare food on their own. It just saves them from having to go to a grocery store to buy all the ingredients.

To make it easier, consider ordering a holiday dinner for them through a local restaurant providing takeout and safe door delivery. Doing this means you can share holiday dinners together virtually while celebrating the holidays safely.

For Thanksgiving, expect a lot of people to eat dinner while chatting on their video apps. This might be a first, yet not much different from sitting around a large table.

Let Seniors Tell Stories Virtually

Perhaps the youngers dominate the conversation around the holiday dinner table in normal times. Seniors are more vulnerable to not having companionship this holiday season, so give them a chance to tell family stories during holiday video chats.

Letting them open up and reflect on things they've done over the years is one of the most cathartic methods of communication. Have the family gather around during a virtual meet this holiday season and listen carefully to those stories.

It's also worth your while to record those stories for posterity. Your parents may open up and tell more fascinating stories you've never heard. Many of those are invaluable for the sake of family history and awareness.

Allowing as much discussion as possible with your aging parents is more essential than ever now. They want to be heard, and what they say is likely going to become more important to your family than you ever thought.

That Said....Share Favorite Holiday Music

Reach out to your elder relatives and share your favorite holiday music with them. You can do this through music sharing services already. However, doing that virtually is a fun experience to celebrate the holidays safely.

Have everyone gather and play their favorite holiday playlists together, including on Christmas Eve if a big family meet is impossible. Singing along virtually to music can bring some treasured moments with your parents or relatives.

Of course, you need to let them share their favorite holiday tunes as well. They may prefer going old school and playing them on vinyl. If so, that can give a great education to grandkids visiting you who never grew up with vinyl.

Match up your playlists to see how much each one has in common. With a lot of older, traditional Christmas music still being popular, the artists your parents or grandparents listened to 60 or 70 years ago are likely on your own playlist this year. We mean artists like Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis.

Consider a Drive-By Caroling Event

Creative scenarios still exist where not everything has to be virtual. You might want to consider a socially distanced visit to your parents' home where caroling from the sidewalk can bring a more personalized element without taking risk.

Have your parents or grandparents stand at the front door while your family sings them carols from the end of the walkway or by the curb. This makes up for any close contact visitations while still giving relatives a chance to see you and the family on something other than a computer screen.

If possible, doing this as a surprise can bring some heightened holiday emotions. Unannounced caroling in front of someone's home is a tradition that goes back years. It upholds a tradition even your parents or grandparents probably did when younger.

Virtual Tree Trimming Event

What about sharing Christmas trees and decorations virtually? Hold a tree-trimming video event where you can share your tree with your parents. They can do the same, offering a connection you possibly never enjoyed before.

With a little creativity, many of these ideas can bring situations that are more insightful and more wonderful than if meeting in person. Don't feel like these should ever be stopped, even when things inevitably go back to normal so you can be with your parents face to face again.


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