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Archived - Ten ways to celebrate safely during the holidays

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December 2, 2020
Feature Stories

The holidays are right around the corner, but in these COVID times, our traditional festivities will look and feel a lot different. Many of us have friends and family who would be at risk of serious complications if they were to contract the virus. This year we’ll need to come up with creative ways to make the holidays with our loved ones special.

Looking for some inspiration? Read on.

An older white woman wearing antlers on her head and a red garland around her neck stands at an open window where her young grandson, wearing a mask, is passing her a wrapped package.

Gift with love

Presents that clearly have a lot of thought put into them are always extra special. For friends or relatives who might have limited visits over the holidays, a thoughtful or creative approach to gifting is a great way to show you’re thinking about them.


  • Print and frame a special photo or create a collage of shared memories.
  • Gift an act of service. This idea can apply to all sorts of tasks that can be handed off to someone else, like hiring a snow-removal service or arranging assistance for someone.
  • Create an experience. Some ideas include:
    • Curating and sharing a playlist of your mutual favourite songs.
    • Arranging for a singer to drop by for a live performance. Caroling with a group is not recommended, but a solo performance is okay – outdoors and from a safe distance, of course.
    • Finding a gift that extends beyond the holiday season. Pandemic measures will likely be in place for some time, so consider sending flowers, meals or small tokens throughout 2021.
    • Sending hand-written notes by snail mail is a low-cost idea with a lot of sentimental value!

Ottawa Public Health offers information about handling items from outside the home. As a rule, be sure to wash your hands afterward.

A black girl wearing a knit sweater and blue jeans with a giftwrapped package in her lap holds a tablet, meeting virtually with a friend.

Change up the virtual meeting

We’ve all had plenty of Zoom or FaceTime calls in 2020. If your holiday plans include connecting virtually, consider putting a new spin on it by hosting a game.

There’s no shortage of games you can play in a virtual setting. Try Among Us, Twenty Questions, the JackBox Party Pack, trivia games and more. The internet is full of ideas that cater to your group’s preferences.

If you want to keep it simple, choose a game that requires nothing more than your own knowledge and imagination. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Two truths and a lie:
    • Participants take turns telling the group two things about themselves that are true and one thing that is untrue. Everyone takes a turn guessing which statement was the lie. Once everyone has guessed, the person will reveal what was true and what was false. If only one person was correct, that person can go next.
  • Name, place, animal, thing:
    • Pick a letter of the alphabet. Each player lists a famous person's name, a place, an animal and a thing that begins with that letter. The first person to type them into the chat wins.

Deliver a special holiday meal

Food brings people together, regardless of distance. Whether or not your friend or family member lives nearby, arranging for a delicious meal or two is a great way to brighten their holidays. If you’re within driving distance, consider making their favourite dish and dropping it off. If you live in different regions, have a holiday meal or some baked goods delivered to their door. The demand this year will be especially high, so plan ahead.

If your loved one lives within the Ottawa area, consider supporting a local business. Visit for inspiration.

Give back

If you can support those in need this holiday season, there are opportunities to help keep more vulnerable community members connected and healthy. The pandemic puts added pressure on local charities that support those in need. If you have the means, paying it forward is an excellent way to honour the spirit of the holidays.

You can support the Good Companions or the Champlain Community Support Network. They have been offering much-needed support to seniors, who are increasingly isolated due to the pandemic. You can also support the Ottawa Food Bank or refugees settling in Ottawa.

Volunteer organizations can visit SPARK Ontario to post volunteer opportunities available in their communities.

If you’re looking for support, call or visit 211 for the latest information on a wide range of community resources.

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