Canceling Holiday Plans During COVID-19 Hero Label

Canceling Holiday Plans During COVID-19

happy family enjoying each other's company on a Christmas morning


With the holidays right around the corner, and a looming pandemic worsening around the country, many people are facing the tough decision of canceling or altering holiday plans to avoid breaking CDC recommendations.

While nobody wants to cancel beloved family traditions, it’s also important to consider relatives of different ages and levels of health. While it may disappoint loved ones, this decision affirms the importance of their health and presence in our lives.

Here are some tips for breaking the news to your family, as well as tips for keeping the holidays as special as they can be in a difficult time.

RSVP As Soon as You Can

Be sure not to sweep the conversation under the rug until it’s too late. It can feel awkward but it is important to communicate clearly. Give friends and family plenty of time to process your absence during these holidays. Consider that, for many, the absence of family during the holidays is a huge loss of a beloved tradition, after an especially trying year. Be sure that you express gratitude for the invite as well.

Reassure Family

Nobody wants to be missing out on holiday plans, especially after the difficult year the world has gone through. Reassure your family that you’re choosing to cancel plans out of love, care and concern for them. Make your care for them an explicit part of the conversation. Here are a few ways you can spend time with friends and family virtually that are perfect for this socially distanced holiday:

  1. Don’t Forget the Old Fashioned Phone Call
  2. There is just something about the sound of a loved ones’ voice. While we might not be able to hug or meet face to face, a moment of conversation can provide a feeling of genuine connection. Carve out time for a quiet chat with a treasured friend or someone you love. Plan it ahead and make time and space in your life to really spend that time with the person on the other end of the line. Or set up the mic and speaker so everyone can join in. Don’t feel the pressure of the video screen if the best way for you to reach out right now, is to pick up the phone for an old fashioned call.

  3. Zoom Holiday Dinner
  4. Just because you’re not physically present doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with and even see one another. Cook something delicious, or order a delicious holiday meal to-go. Break bread over Zoom or Google Hangouts. Don’t like the idea of eating on camera? Try a zoom grace or toast at the start of the meal. It doesn’t replace real presence, but it can make the loss of this year’s holiday traditions more manageable.

  5. Virtual Family Game Night
  6. If you’d rather spend time with one another after eating, television games like Jackbox allow you to play interactive games with people in other households on a gaming system or your television. It’s a fun and interactive way to connect with family or friends from a distance.

  7. Virtual Secret Santa
  8. If you find yourself missing the gift-giving aspect of the holidays, do a virtual secret santa. Websites like draw names can help everyone in the family, well, draw names for their gift recipient. Then, everybody selects a gift for their randomly-chosen recipient’s wish list, generated when you sign up on the website. Not only is it perfect for contact-free gift-giving. It also helps gift-givers get a sense of what their recipient wants for the holidays.

Make New Memories Instead of Trying to Recreate Old Ones

Though these holidays will likely be different from most others, it’s important to focus on making new memories as well as trying to recreate old ones. Try your best to approach this season with the idea that you will make it special within the constraints you are facing. Thinking about what we can’t do or control right now can bring your holiday spirit down and make it harder to connect with people in ways that are important. Instead, work to make the most of what we all can do..

Though we will miss the presence of family during these holidays, their presence in our future holidays is more important. Following these tips can help minimize the possible disappointment and keep focus on the celebrations, remberences and people that matter.. Making an attempt at a virtual Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice or New Year can keep the tradition special, and even broaden the holiday memories you and your family and friends have together.