Holidays and Special Events

Holidays and celebrations continue to look different as we adjust to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. While celebrating, it's important to help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by observing social distancing policies, wearing a mask while in public, and washing your hands frequently and after all interactions. 

Needless to say, this can make observing religious events and celebrating special life moments challenging. Below, you’ll find tips on how to celebrate holidays while observing social distancing. 

 

Births, birthdays and anniversaries

Celebrating births, christenings, brit milot, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other life events are challenging right now. There are ways to recognize these events and share with even more friends and family as the party, gathering or celebration can be held virtually, which allows anyone to attend no matter where they are in the United States or elsewhere around the world. 

A friend of the Foundation, Zoe, attended a virtual birthday party using Zoom for her niece. The family sent out email invitations inviting everyone to the celebration. There was cake and everyone brought their own cupcake and beverage to the celebration

It’s important to continue recognizing the important events in our daily lives even during this difficult time. With a little planning, creativity, and visiting your favorite social media sites, you’ll find lots of idea for hosting virtual events in your home.

Halloween

For kids and adults alike, Halloween is a day of costumes, parades, parties, and trick-or-treating. These fun-filled celebration will need to look little bit different due to COVID-19. The CDC has recommended avoidance of door-to-door trick-or-treating in 2020, and many towns have already “canceled” trick-or-treating this year. It is important for you to continue following local guidance on in-person gathering and follow safety precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe. Here are some helpful tips to follow: 

· If you are sick, or have been exposed to someone that is sick, stay at home. You can celebrate virtually with friends and family while staying safe. · If you are taking IBD medications that compromise your immune system, such as steroids, talk to your doctor about your risk. If staying at home is the best option for you and your family, consider alternative ways to celebrate – like virtual costume parades with friends and family. 

If local guidance allows for you and your child to go out in your community, here are a few tips for trick-or-treating: · Follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask when in public. Wash your hands frequently and/or use hand sanitizers. Do not use a Halloween costume mask in place of a cloth mask, unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose, and doesn’t leave gaps. The CDC advises to not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask as it can be dangerous and make it difficult to breathe. Instead, you may want to consider using a Halloween- theme cloth mask. 

· For those who want to distribute treats, consider leaving individually packaged treats for trick-or-treaters as reaching into shared bowls and containers is not recommended. This may help limit your and their risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

· If you are greeting trick-or-treaters, be sure to wear a mask and keep following social distancing guidelines. 

· Avoid crowding. Allow six feet distance between you and others in your community before approaching fellow neighbors, houses, businesses, or other local activities being offered. 

· Patients with IBD should always think about their nutritional needs. Be aware of any treats that contain foods that you may not tolerate well, or that may bring on discomfort or other symptoms. General information about diet, nutrition, and IBD can be found here, and nutrition information for parents and children can be found here. 

  

Resources: 

· For more general information on how to celebrate safely, and your community risk level, visit halloween2020.org

· Find CDC Halloween health and safety tips here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween 

· Find patient guidance here: www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/coronavirus/what-ibd-patients-should-know 

· Find pediatric patient guidance here: www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/coronavirus-update/pediatrics 

 

What technology to use?

There are numerous platforms that allow you to virtually gather groups together for meetings, networking, and special occasions. Many of these platforms are free while others charge an annual fee. We have listed a few below for easy reference.

Talk to your friends and family, by phone or email, about their favorite app or website. Consider using a platform your friends or family members use. Having a friend/family member available if you have technical issues is always helpful. You can also find lots of guidance on the web on how to use video applications including written instructions and video tutorials. 

Zoom

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants for 40 minutes
  • Upgrade for a fee and 40-minute restriction removed 

Google Hangouts  

  • Free to use, up to 10 participants
  • Recently relaxed restrictions until July 1, 2020 and can now host up to 250 participants

Skype

  • Free to use, up to 50 participants for unlimited duration

Jitsi

  • Free to use, up to 200 participants

GoTo Meeting

  • Free to use, up to 26 participants
  • Upgrade for a fee to include up to 1,000 participants

Webex Meetings 

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, no time limit

Ring Central

  • Free to use, up to 100 participants, 40-minute time limit

Remo

  • Plans starting at $50 per month

This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the video tools out there. Use your favorite search engine to find more resources to help you connect with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, birthdays, and other important and special occasions.

 

 

All information is reviewed by the Foundation's National Scientific Advisory Committee, with additional guidance provided by Dr. Ellen Scherl, Weill Cornell Medicine and Nahima Ahmed, MPH

Last updated October 2020