23.01.2021

Need alternatives to your typical holiday gathering?

While physical gatherings and potlucks are not advised during a pandemic, thankfully there are other ways you can get your treat and socialization fix, whether at home or at the office.

Gatherings and potlucks have long been essential components of holiday festivities, mass producing warm fuzzies by the sleighful – at home and at work alike. But COVID-19 has many people rethinking their jovial plans this year, and with good reason.

“It seems obvious, but at potlucks and gatherings in general, serving utensils are shared by anyone partaking,” explains Dr. Jacqueline Koski, family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Neenah, WI. “With that comes the inevitability of picking up – and possibly ingesting – various harmful substances, and a somewhat decent chance of getting sick, especially with COVID-19 and influenza season.”

Consider these alternatives:

  • Organize a goodie exchange at work or in the neighborhood. First, send an invitation via social media or email to colleagues or neighbors to participate. Then, explain the details to invitees: Prepackage a few of shareable treats in several individual grab-and-go containers. If at work, designate a table in the breakroom for team members to pop in and take back to their workstations, if able to do so. If at home, collect the addresses of neighbors and do a doorstep drop off (bonus points if you walk the neighborhood when you deliver).
  • Set up an email recipe exchange. While not quite the same as someone else cooking or baking for you, this gives you the opportunity to try something tasty and new in your own home.
  • Set up a virtual lunchtime or dinnertime. If you love potlucks for the socializing, then a virtual lunchtime or dinnertime is perfect for you. Send an invitation via email or social media to eat “together” and chat with friends, family, or coworkers.
  • Bring your own lunch outside. Yes, it’s cold outside. But you can still bundle up and do a social-distancing lunchtime outdoors. You’ll get fresh air and get to chat with friends or coworkers at a distance, all while enjoying your own lunch. Or your hot cocoa.
  • Open gifts virtually. Not being able to get together during the holidays can bring on feelings like depression and sadness for many. Mail gifts, or do a door-stop-drop, and then set up a time to watch them open their gift over video chat. You can even take this opportunity to bake into your virtual gathering a “thankfulness session”, where you and each person on the call reflects on their best memories from the year, or years prior, and chat about what you’re most thankful for this holiday season. Being thankful is a great way to lift your spirits and remind you what the holidays are really about.
  • Have a “you” day. If you won’t be gathering – in person or virtually –, then consider having a day to celebrate you. Light some candles, put on your favorite music, pop in a great movie, order in your favorite meal (or cook it yourself!), take a bubble bath, give yourself a holiday gift. The idea is to take this time to treat you the way you deserve – with kindness and love.

“If you’re doing something that requires an in-person interaction, don’t forget to socially distance and wear a mask, where appropriate,” says Dr. Koski. “The pandemic is forcing us to rethink the way we gather – if we gather –, but getting a little creative and thinking outside the box can be just as enjoyable as the real deal.”

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