With months of stay-at-home orders and quarantining already behind us, it’s not a stretch to wonder what the upcoming holiday season will look like during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many have already experienced slightly altered celebrations for Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, birthdays, and anniversaries to name a few.
But with a headliner holiday like Christmas fast approaching, families across the country are trying to imagine what this usually cheerful time of year will look like come December. To help you get your bearings, here’s a simple Christmas checklist to help plan for the months ahead, even if they’ll likely look a little different than before.
Make a Family Holiday Plan (3 to 6 Months Ahead)
Around three months before Santa’s big arrival is an ideal time to start deciding where your Christmas celebrations will take place. This year, the most significant challenge you’re likely to face in your quest to see family is whether you and/or your relatives will be able to travel — or feel comfortable doing so.
Half of all Americans believe they will spend Christmas 2020 away from family and friends, according to an American Hotel & Lodging Association survey. But for those still planning a trip to see loved ones, getting there may not only be a challenge but also involve adapting to new rules and regulations.
For instance, most airports across the country have enacted mandatory rules that include temperature screenings upon arrival, as well as the required wearing of face masks, and following social distancing protocols in all terminals. The requirement of wearing a face mask also extends while in-flight.
Despite these new protocols, TSA continues to report a steady increase in travelers to and from airports across the country, which is why it’s a good idea to reserve and buy your plane tickets three to six months in advance.
Prep For Christmas Traditions (8 to 10 Weeks Ahead)
Starting around the two-month mark before Christmas, it’s a good idea to begin prepping for any family holiday rituals you hold near and dear. Of course, this year, you may forgo the sacred in-person Christmas cookie exchange. But why not host a Zoom baking hour with extended family and friends instead? This year, people are finding ways to adapt while still holding onto their favorite holiday traditions in one form or another.
Another favorite tradition amongst families is creating their annual holiday card — and experts suggest you start designing your Christmas cards earlier this year. Given more families will be staying put over the holidays and will send out mailed well wishes instead, the traditional Christmas card rush will be even busier. Thus, to avoid potential delays and costly shipping rates, make sure you order your custom-designed Christmas cards at least two to three weeks before Thanksgiving, or earlier if possible.
To that end, it might be helpful to have your family photos picked out or returned from your photographer by October, allowing you ample time to design the perfect holiday memento. Indeed, sending out holiday cards is a great way to reconnect and show family and friends near and far that you’re thinking of them, particularly when holiday travel may not be possible.
Take Black Friday Online (4 Weeks Ahead)
With your Christmas budget in place and a comprehensive list of gifts to buy, make sure to take advantage of any online deals as they pop up. Of course, in both the short and long term, this can help save you a lot of money — and ensure your sanity is still intact — in this new holiday reality.
Plus, one great thing about being prepared is that you don’t have to limit yourself to big-box stores to scoop up a rushed, last-minute gift this season. Wanting to help out a struggling local retailer? Try reaching out via email or phone with your order. Most will be happy to fulfill your request and feel grateful for the uptick in sales during these uncertain times.
Spread Cheer — Everyone Can Use Some
Once you get a jumpstart on the holiday rush, whether it’s by ordering your Christmas cards earlier or planning the family feast in full, you might just notice Christmas doesn’t seem so wildly different this year. Yes, our families may be a little more spread out, but there’s still love in the air and still cheer and merriment to be had.