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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

As we get ready to surround our televisions to celebrate a famous groundhog who tells us when the next season will arrive, have

Man holding Groundhog

you ever wondered why? As the seasons change from winter to spring, Groundhog Day allows each of us to turn over a new leaf and transition with whatever news the groundhog brings. So, whether you listen to Buckeye Chuck or Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction this year, take some time to come out of hibernation and set goals for the next season no matter how soon or far away it may seem.

Groundhog Day to many is a silly and fun holiday; however, it has ancient origins. February second marks the mid-point between Halloween and Mayday, which historically, was a major festival marking the changing of seasons. In a German tradition, badgers made these types of seasonal predictions, letting people know when to expect the next season. Folklorist Stephen Wick from the American Folklife Center and Veterans History Project found that with immigration, the first account of a modern American Groundhog Day ritual happened on February 2, 1840. At this event, a Pennsylvanian storekeeper noted that the groundhog coming out of hibernation would determine 40 more days of winter or an early spring.

Thinking about how the holiday took shape helps to re-frame the reason for the season or seasons depending on what the groundhog says. As we take this time to transition, setting intentional goals as we all come out of hibernation can be crucial to personal and professional growth in the next season of our lives.

SMART Goals illustration highlighting each step Specific, Measurable Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound

When looking forward and thinking about the next season, setting goals is an important first step. S.M.A.R.T. goals are a popular approach to goal setting that takes into consideration, what you are doing, how long you plan to take, and helps ensure you will be successful.

In the next season, establish your goals S.M.A.R. T. by making them…

  • Specific : What needs to be accomplished?
    • What will the new season bring for you and your loved ones? Make sure the goal is for something you want or need to accomplish. The University of California suggests that it serves as a “mission statement for your goal.”  
  • Measurable: How will the goal be successfully completed?
    • As you plan a goal for the new season, the measurement should provide you with information. No matter what type of information you learn, setting measurable milestones along the way can ensure goal making success.
  • Attainable: Can I do this?
    • As you consider, can I do this, think about your abilities and whose help you may need.
  • Relevant: Is this something that needs to happen now?
    • In this next season, think about the goal and when it needs to happen.
  • Time-Bound: Can this goal be achieved in the specified time frame?
    • Setting a time for the goal to be achieved by is important. Making a time-bound goal helps hold you accountable in this new season.

As we come out of hibernation and transition to a new season, set a S.M.A.R.T goal for the next period in your life. While celebrating Groundhog Day this year, include time to set new goals for the new season; however, quickly or slowly it arrives! We would love to hear what your S.M.A.R.T. goal is or will be!

Sources:

Bailey, Ryan. Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2017 Sep 13;13(6):615-618. From https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1559827617729634

Bringing people together from all over the World: Groundhog Day. Image. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. https://www.groundhog.org/legend-and-lore

SMART Goals: A How to Guide. University of California. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://www.ucop.edu/local-human-resources/_files/performance-appraisal/How%20to%20write%20SMART%20Goals%20v2.pdf

Set SMART Goals. The University of Minnesota. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2023m from https://effectiveu.umn.edu/tips/smartgoals

Winick, Stephen. Groundhog Day: Ancient Origins of a Modern Celebration. (February 1,2022). Retrieved January 30, 2023, from https://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2022/02/groundhog-day-ancient-origins-of-a-modern-celebration/

Author: Ryan Kline, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, 4-H Youth Development/Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County, kline.375@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu.

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The holiday season is a magical time of year, yet for many, the holidays bring stress, anxiety, conflict and even heartache.   Often stress starts at Thanksgiving and runs through the New Year.    Holiday triggers, can create internal and external forces influencing our mind and body, creating stress and anxiety during the holiday season.    Give yourself the gift of a stress-free holiday by being aware of common holiday triggers and learning ways to cope with holiday stress.

 Be aware of these common holiday triggers:

  • Increased expectations:  Choosing which family member’s gatherings to attend after years of unresolved conflict and finding ways to dodge the uncomfortable conversations at the holiday table is stressful.  We often feel pressured to meet the expectations of others.
  • Financial strain:  Wanting to create the perfect holiday experience comes with a price tag that affects our finances often into the New Year.
  • Time management concerns:  Balancing work, family, friends, and additional commitments is more challenging than ever this time of year!
  • Eating concerns:  For those with any kind of negative relationship with food the holiday focus on food is triggering. The food pushers who do not take no for an answer when offering food is overwhelming.  Eat mindfully, have a game plan and if necessary, remind your family that your eating habits are not up for discussion.

Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress:

  • Connect with those you trust and are comfortable with.  A support system is always important, especially this time of year.
  • Practice empathy and compassion for yourself and others. Give yourself grace when you need it, remember everyone has their own struggles.
  • Try not to set unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Establish boundaries and do not be afraid to say no.  Create a holiday spending plan.
  • Set a schedule for shopping, cooking and holiday activities.  Make a to-do list helps visualize and manage your time.
  • Continue healthy habits.  It is alright to indulge in some of the holiday treats,  remember to keep your physical health a priority.
  • Adopt one or two mindful exercise that work for you (deep breathing, visualization, stretching).

Be kind to yourself this holiday.  Practice self-compassion.  Spend time with your favorite people, books, hobbies, movies and say “no” to anything that does not make you happier.    Have a wonderful stress-free holiday!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

References:

Holiday Depression Triggers What Causes Holiday Blues? (webmd.com)

10 Common Holiday Stresses and How to Cope With Them | Psychology Today

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The holidays were always a big event in my family with lots of food, fun and family togetherness. I never realized how much time and effort it took my parents to get ready for the holidays until I had a family of my own. The weeks leading up to the holidays can be stressful, so here are three simple ideas I do to help prepare and I hope it helps you too.

Declutter and Clean

Over the course of a year, we gather a lot of junk that takes up space. Before cleaning, consider purging instead of jumping right into cleaning. During November, I take time each day (only 20 minutes a day) to declutter my desk, small closets, and even the refrigerator to make room for holiday foods. Seeing a clean space feels very motivating! Once decluttering is done, let the cleaning begin! You don’t have to tackle everything but basis like dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the toilets can be done in a short amount of time.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen usually becomes more important during the holidays since we spend time baking and cooking. If you will be preparing this holiday season, consider making a menu, then create a list of everything you need before making a trip to the grocery store, saving both time and money. Check your cupboards to see what items you already have! For more tips on planning for the holidays, here is a great, 30-minute webinar.

Decorating Main Spaces

Finally, it’s time to decorate! I tend to feel overwhelmed with this task and began decorating only the main living and dining areas. The bedrooms usually get a holiday throw pillow or blanket and a candle. In the kitchen I use seasonal dish towels and placemats. And of course, my holiday wreath on the front door!

The weeks ahead can be hectic. Following these simple tips and being mindful of your time beforehand can help ensure that you will be able to enjoy your family time together.

Written by Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by, Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

Barledge, L., Gallup, S., Lowe, J. (2022). Webinar. Set the Table: Plan for Both Wellness and Savings. Webinar: https://go.osu.edu/giftsweb2.

Carter, S. (2017).  Stretch Your Time and Money This Thanksgiving. https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/11/13/stretch-your-time-and-money-this-thanksgiving/

Center for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/cope-with-stress/

Marrison. E. (2021). Homemade Cleaners: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/01/homemade-cleaners-healthy-wealthy-wise/

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With the holidays around the corner, I have been thinking about all the things that have changed over the years. When I was a kid, we went to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve and celebrated with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. When my grandparents moved in to an apartment, the holidays were divided amongst my aunts. As my generation grew and started having children, it became too much to coordinate, so we no longer get together for Christmas with my extended family. We have continued to gather for Thanksgiving, though.

Baking Cookies, Christmas Baking, Child'S Hand, Cut Out
Child making cut out cookies

Even as my own kids have grown, our traditions have changed. We used to go to their great-grandpa’s house and then my aunt’s on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day, we opened presents at our house, then went to my parent’s house to open presents and eat with my brother and his family. Finally, we concluded with Christmas evening at their other grandparents’ house with their aunt and uncle. Now, my parent’s go to Florida for the winter, so we no longer celebrate the holidays with my family. While the slower pace on Christmas Day is nice, I miss seeing my parents and my brother and his family for Christmas.

While I do miss some of the traditions of the past, I try not to focus on how things “used” to be, but instead seek to make new traditions that suit the changes in our family. My kids, young adults now, have school or college, work, friends, etc. to juggle along with the “commitments” of the holidays. I could not be happier that they have grown in to happy, healthy, productive, well-adjusted adults, as I had always hoped; however, I would be lying if I said I don’t sometimes miss the time when their world revolved around our family. I try to be supportive and understanding, which is easier to do, so long as I remember that this is the cycle of life.

Friends, Celebration, Dinner, Table, Meal, Food, White
Friends celebrating with a meal

As I look to the future, I am mostly excited for what is to come. I will miss my daughter when she goes off to college, just as I miss(ed) her brothers when they left. I am looking forward to seeing my young adult children spread their wings and make their way in the world. I will be cheering them on all the way and I will be here to support them as they make new traditions in their own lives. Hopefully, I will be included in many of those traditions. As they go out in to the world, I am sure my husband and I will make some new traditions for ourselves as well. Traditions serve many purposes, including:

  1. An anxiety buffer– From reciting blessings to raising a glass to make a toast, holiday traditions are replete with rituals which can act as a buffer against anxiety by making our world a more predictable place.
  2. Happy meals– The long hours spent in the kitchen and the dining room during the preparation and consumption of holiday meals serve some of the same social functions as the hearths of our early ancestors. Sharing a ceremonial meal symbolizes community, brings the entire family together around the table, and smooths the way for conversation and connection.
  3. Sharing is caring– Anthropologists have noted that among many societies ritualized gift-giving plays a crucial role in maintaining social ties by creating networks of reciprocal relationships.
  4. The stuff family is made of– The most important function of holiday rituals is their role in maintaining and strengthening family ties.

My kids are mostly grown now, and hopefully the traditions and rituals we have had over the years and ones yet to come, will be looked upon fondly by them, just as I look back with fond remembrance of the traditions of my childhood and those of raising my own children.

Join us Friday, December 17th at 12:00 pm for a 30-minute webinar on Why Traditions are Important Today. The webinar is free, but registration is required at go.osu.edu/playweb.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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For many, the holidays are filled with celebrations and festivities with family and friends, but it can be a worrisome time for those who have difficulty getting around, or are confined to their homes. Older adults might choose to forego family celebrations and festivities for fear of falling or being a burden on family members. By skipping family functions, older adults may have an increased feeling of loneliness and isolation during the holidays.

Unfortunately a day out with an older adult cannot be spontaneous. However, with a little pre-planning and modifications, holiday traditions and activities can be safe for older family members. This may require some changes to family plans, but having senior family members with you during the holidays is well worth the adjustments.

In order to make celebrations suitable for every family member, here are some things to consider during the planning process:

  • How far can the person travel?
  • Are the costs affordable to someone on a limited budget?
  • How much walking is involved?  Are there hills or other obstacles that would make it hard to navigate?
  • Is there wheelchair access?
  • Is there parking nearby?
  • Are restrooms easily accessible?
  • Are there benches or chairs that can be used?

Planning what you need to take with you is also important. Be prepared for the unexpected. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have all the medications needed. Take an extended supply, just in case you are still out when the next dose is due.
  • Have clothing appropriate for the weather and the outing. Comfortable shoes and warm weather clothes are important.
  • Bring some snacks and plenty of water.

Once you get to the activity, the next step is to be alert to any hazards or problems that might occur. Holidays are a joyful time of year meant for get-togethers, memories, and a touch of nostalgia. However, the holiday season can be one of the most dangerous times for older persons. For example:

  • Holiday decorations may affect the ability of your loved ones to move freely throughout the home. Just because you can easily navigate the extra decorations, doesn’t mean that your loved one will.
  • Look for extension cords or floor rugs that can lead to a fall.
  • Make sure that walkways are clear of ice and snow.

Additional considerations are needed for family members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. For instance, consider the effect of too much clutter: Too many lights, music and decorations can be overwhelming. The Alzheimer’s Organization provides additional tips on how to help family members with dementia enjoy the holidays. In addition, the Healthy Aging Network Telecast on Managing Family Members with Dementia Over the Holiday Season provides additional tips to help you and your family.

The holidays give older adults something to look forward to, provides a stimulating change of scenery, and create pleasant memories to carry with them. So, even though it may take a little extra planning and work, involving your older family members in holiday celebrations can improve the meaning of the holiday season.

Written by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County

Sources:

Reducing Loneliness: How to Help Seniors During the Holidays, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20047715

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Two people walking in the snow with a small dog

Getting outside is a wonderful thing to do any time of the year. The health benefits of spending time outdoors have been well documented and validated over the last four decades. For example, spending time in nature can improve your psychological wellbeing, lower your stress, and reduce your blood pressure. Although science shows all the positive ways being outside can benefit us, we also know that Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors. We challenge you to change this statistic and make plans to get outside this winter!

If you are looking for unique opportunities and ideas of what you can do outside during the colder months, consider these activities:

  • Go tubing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, and snowshoeing when there is snow on the ground. Of course, building snow forts and snowmen are also classic winter activities.
  • Find a safe place to have an outdoor fire. Invite friends and family over, bundle up, and sing or tell stories. Be sure to follow outdoor fire safety tips.
  • Watch the stars, planets, and moon during the dark winter months. Clear, cold nights are perfect for watching the night sky. Check out What’s Up: Skywatching Tips from NASA, an educational website full of great tips and resources.
  • Invite the birds into your yard. Providing bird seed and a heated water bath is sure to attract feather friends. If you enjoy birds and birdwatching, consider signing up for Project Feeder Watch and/or Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
  • Read a book about winter to the children in your life and then re-create the story in real life. To get ideas, check out The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats or Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.
  • Explore seasonal and holiday-themed opportunities. Many communities have light shows, ice rinks, and outdoor activities for you to enjoy during this time of the year. Check with your area parks, museums, zoos, and nature centers for events.

Before heading out, remember to follow these winter weather safety tips:

  • Monitor the weather and plan ahead.
  • Wear layers.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Protect your head, hands, and feet.
  • Wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen, and use a lip balm with sunscreen.

If you or someone you love has limited mobility or a difficult time getting outside, consider bringing nature closer to you and if possible, bring nature indoors. For example, if it snows, bring some snow inside in a plastic tub. You can also purchase a houseplant that has a seasonal scent, like rosemary or pine. A window bird feeder is another option. Each of these ideas is a way to enjoy the benefits of nature without leaving your house.

Every day is an opportunity to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer, even during these colder and darker months. Make it a priority to wonder and wander outdoors this winter!

Written by: Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu  

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Sources:

Gallup, S. (2021, May 19). Falling in Love with Nature. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/19/falling-in-love-with-nature

Harvard Health Publishing (2018, December 1). The Wonders of Winter Workouts.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-wonders-of-winter-workouts

Kelpies, N. E., Nelson, W. C., Ott, W. R., Robinson, J. P., Tsang, A. M., Switzer, P., Behar, J. V., Hern, S. C., & Engelmann, W. H. (2001). The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of exposure analysis and environmental epidemiology, 11(3), 231–252. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500165

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Photo Credit: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

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Now what is written on blank piece of paper with black marker.

After all the fun family activities and festivities surrounding the holidays, many people find themselves experiencing a big let-down or what some might call the “winter blues”.   Typically, there is such anticipation and jubilation heading into the holidays that once it is all over, we find ourselves asking the question “Now what?”

According to the American Addiction Centers, post-holiday let-down symptoms include:

  • Fatigue from overextending ourselves, hectic holiday schedules, etc.
  • Loneliness from the sudden dip in social contact and fewer get-togethers
  • Sadness and feelings of loss or emptiness upon the return to “regular” life
  • Reduced motivation when the excitement and energy of the holidays that buoyed you disappears

If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, you are not alone.  Studies show as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays.  If you notice depressive symptoms try implementing these strategies:

  • Take care of yourself.  Make sure you are getting quality sleep, regular exercise and eating a balanced diet. 
  • Schedule time for fun.  Even though the holiday parties are over, you can still make plans to interact with others.  Go for lunch, FaceTime a friend, or plan an activity you enjoy.  Stay involved and reach out to others.
  • Be patient and go easy on yourself.  Getting back into your routine can be challenging.  Be kind to yourself.  Meditate, read, enjoy a hot bath and just take time to relax.

Taking a proactive approach can help you beat the winter blues!  In addition to the strategies above, try planning at least one thing in your week that you look forward to and that gives you pleasure.  If you find yourself still struggling despite your best attempts to move forward, I encourage you to reach out to the Crisis Hotline by texting “4hope” to 741741 or calling 1-800-273-8255.  The Crisis Hotline provides free 24/7 support and is anonymous. 

If you would like additional strategies and tips for beating the winter blues, visit our webinar archives to view a four session webinar series from our team on Beating the Winter Blues.

Written by Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Belmont County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Article by: MacCarthy Libby MacCarthy, Libby. “What’s Behind The Post-Holiday Funk & How To Snap Out Of It Post Holiday Depression.” Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1996, 17 Aug. 2020, www.psycom.net/post-holiday-depression.

“Winter Blues Definition and Meaning: Collins English Dictionary.” Winter Blues Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2007, www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/winter-blues.

Milios, Rita. “Avoid Holiday Blues and Post-Holiday Letdown.” Recovery.org, 16 Dec. 2016, www.recovery.org/pro/articles/avoid-holiday-blues-and-post-holiday-letdown/.

Marie Hartwell-Walker, EdD. “How to Manage Post-Holiday Depression.” Psych Central, Psych Central, 17 May 2016, https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-manage-post-holiday-depression#1

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I was surprised to learn a few weeks ago that I was putting my family at risk with a simple decision I was making; leaving my tree lights on.  Holiday decorations can increase the chance of fire in your home if not done safely. According to the National Fire Protection Association, tree fires during the holidays are more likely to be serious. Lighting on trees is involved in more than two of every five home fires Christmas trees. There are a few simple things you can do to keep your home safe and enjoy all your holiday decorations.

Inspect your lights before hanging. Throw away any lights with cracked strands, excessive kicking, or frayed cords. If your lights are warm to the touch throw them out!

Hang your lights with clips, avoid using nails. Never use your electric lights on a metal tree.

Do not overload your electrical sockets. Plan to limit your lights to 50 screw-in bulbs or no more than three strands.

Pay attention to where you place your extension cords. Avoid running them under carpets, heaters, or high traffic areas.  Running cords across doorways may cause a tripping hazard, be mindful to place them in places where they will not be tripped over.

Make sure your decorations are nonflammable and place them away from lights or heater vents. Consider vents and fireplaces when choosing a place for your tree.

When enjoying your holiday candles, place them out of reach of children and pets.  Fifty-seven percent of December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to 32 percent in January through November.

Ensure your candles burn safely by removing burnable materials from around them and never leave them unattended.

Always keep your live tree watered, using water only! Cutting the bottom two inches off the trunk before setting it up will help improve water absorption.

Unplug your lights before going to bed or leaving your house.

For more holiday safety tips see the resources below. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday!

Writer: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Lorrissa Dunfee , Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County, dunfee.54@osu.edu

Resources:

ESFI Holiday Decorating Safety. (2015).  Electrical Safety Foundation International https://www.esfi.org/resource/holiday-decorating-safety-342

Holiday Decorations Safety Tips. (n.d.). U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission https://cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/611.pdf

McKelvey, S. (2019, December 13). The Holiday Season Presents Increased Fire Risks Due to Multiple Factors. Retrieved December 14, 2020, from https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-media/Blogs-Landing-Page/NFPA-Today/Blog-Posts/2019/12/13/the-holiday-season-presents-increased-fire-risks-due-to-multiple-factors

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As we approach the holiday season with the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting our daily lives, it is time to consider how to celebrate safely.

"Tips for Celebrating Safely This Thanksgiving" Infographic from the Public Health Communications Collaborative. Available at https://publichealthcollaborative.org.

This year may present the perfect opportunity to tweak old traditions and try something new! The CDC has provided guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while celebrating the holidays. The safest way to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe is to celebrate virtually or with members of your own household. If you chose to gather with extended family, friends, or others this season, know that small, outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. Those planning to host or attend in-person holiday celebrations might consider whether and how to take the activities outdoors and make them memorable!

If your holiday celebration typically includes time spent in the living room or basement watching a football game or parade on TV with friends and family, might you be able to set up a projector screen or TV in the backyard and continue this tradition? If you don’t have the backyard space to host a gathering while allowing for adequate social distancing, is there a local park or outdoor spot where you could meet family for a picnic or hike? If you’re worried about cold weather, there are ways to keep warm while outdoors. You could:

  • Play games while social distancing to get moving and warm up
  • Sit and chat around a fire pit or outdoor heater
  • Bundle up with blankets, coats, mittens, hats, and other winter accessories
  • Sip on a cup of hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or cider

If you are the host of the gathering, encourage guests to bring their own food, beverages, and utensils to minimize sharing and the potential for cross contamination. If you opt to make food or beverages available, consider single use options or designate one person to serve the food so multiple people are not handling utensils and dishes.

Since many gatherings will be smaller this year, and because guests are encouraged to bring their own food, hosts may not need to cook a whole turkey, ham, or other large meal – the perfect opportunity to break from tradition and try new holiday recipes. Roasted turkey breast with vegetables, for example, makes a delicious meal for a family of six.

Holiday celebrations this year will be different for all of us.  With a little planning and creativity, you can find ways to experience comfort and happiness with loved ones – and you may even find a new tradition worth keeping!

Written by: Ashley Markowski, Dietetic Intern at Cedar Crest College

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Kistler, S.E. (2020). How to plan winter holidays in a pandemic. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/covid-and-planning-thanksgiving-christmas-holidays


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With the holiday season almost here, discussions are being held to determine the best practice to celebrate without putting ourselves in the path of the coronavirus.  Older adults need to be exceptionally careful, especially those with high blood pressure, heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.  These Seniors face a greater risk of developing severe COVID-19.

In-Person or Virtual?

Holidays are a time for families and friends to come together and celebrate the season.  It is understandable that many still want to get together and celebrate the season.  Your decision on whether to stay at home or get together face to face needs to be based on your own health, risk factors and how your community (or the area you plan to visit) is faring.  Before you make your plans, check local transmission rates.  According to researchers at John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there should be a two-week decrease in COVID-19 cases and a low overall rate (less than 10 per 100,000 people over 14 days).  

If you are in an area with high levels of COVID-19, it is wise to stay home even if you are otherwise in good health and have no preexisting conditions according to practitioners at the Cleveland Clinic.

Virtual Holiday

Should you choose to celebrate this holiday separately from your family and friends, make it memorable.

  • Connect via a digital platform, such as Zoom.  This allows you to do everything from sitting at your Thanksgiving dinner table, watching grandkids open presents or singing favorite songs on a computer.
  • Overhaul your traditions.  Mix up a favorite holiday recipe and send out to everyone! 
  • Create new virtual traditions.  Host a game night on an app called Pogo.  Or watch your favorite holiday movie simultaneously via an app called Netflix Party.
  • Schedule several virtual tours for the holidays. The Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art offer many options.

Face to Face Celebrations

In person celebrations are not perfectly safe.  However, a few steps can reduce risks significantly.

  • Wear a mask.  Social distance and wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay as local as possible.  Stay within a 2-hour drive from home.  This minimizes the need to stop along the way.
  • Plan for small and short.  The fewer people you are with, the lower the overall risk.  Keep indoor get-togethers under 10 people and limit to 1 hour. 
  • Bring your own.  Ideally, everyone should have their own food and utensils.  Takeout is an option.  Ask for food to be packed in separate containers for each person.
  • Try staggered eating times, so people from the same household can eat together at the same table.  Consider eating with spaced-out seating.
  • Limit alcohol.   The more people drink,  it is challenging to stay masked and follow social distancing guidelines.
  • Skip the singalongs.  When people sing, small aerosol particles are released into the air and may propel the virus into your 6-foot safety zone.
  • Wash your own dishes to limit cross-contamination
  • Paper plates are safer to use than regular dishes
  • Wipe and sanitize common areas
  • Do not use serving utensils or pass dishes

Remember to pass on the hugs and keep everyone safe.   Be Well this holiday season.

Written by Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Centers of Disease Control:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html

Illinois  Department of Health:

https://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/holiday-season-safety-tips

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