Stay at Home Tips: How to Celebrate the Holidays Safely

See more Extension Stay at Home Tips from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension

For reliable information you can trust about COVID-19 go to

The State of Wisconsin is seeing critically high levels of COVID-19 cases as we continue into the holiday season. As many people are planning for winter celebrations this year, some considerations need to be made to help protect individuals and our communities from further spread of COVID-19.

This holiday season, the safest decision you can make for yourself, your family and your community is to stay home. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and other public health entities, recommend that this year you avoid any celebrations with people you do not live with. It is important to stay home as much as possible, avoid travel, and turn down invitations for gatherings or events. Focus on ways you can celebrate the holidays safely this year to protect your family, community and state.

Safe celebration alternatives

Since the safest way to celebrate this winter is with those in your household, consider these safe and creative alternatives:

  • Maintain some of your same traditions with people who live in your household
  • Plan a traditional holiday meal together, in your own homes. Assign a dish to everyone and do a porch drop off at each house. Share your meal together virtually or over the phone.
  • Plan a call or video chat to reminisce about memories you share from holidays past.
  • Watch holiday movies from your own home, join each other virtually to watch if you choose.
  • Interview family members over the phone, or virtually, to capture family stories, memories, or traditions on paper or video. Check out this question list by StoryCorp for ideas.
  • Plan a virtual gathering to celebrate the New Year and play games or share special memories from the year together.
  • Have a “Watch Party” and watch New Years celebrations on TV with those in your household.

Building resilience during winter celebrations

Though the above recommendations for safe celebrations are great alternatives, it is important to make sure we also maintain both physical safety and emotional-well being during this time. Review the tips below to learn more about building resilience during winter celebrations:

  • Plan ahead and set realistic expectations: Make a realistic and safe plan for celebrations and stick to them.
  • Prioritize activities you enjoy most: Many people will have fewer commitments this year so prioritize the ones you know you will get the most enjoyment out of.
  • Use humor: Laughter can relieve stress and improve mood. Try to use humor when times feel challenging.
  • Try to embrace new traditions: Even though this year may be different, try to embrace new celebrations and also take some extra time to relax and take care of yourself.
  • Reach out: Reach out to those around you for support whether it’s conversations with those you live with, phone calls or computer chats.

Informed decision-making

Not everyone has the ability to stay safe at home this year due to employment requirements, family circumstances or other reasons. This is why it is important for those who can stay at home to do so, to protect themselves and our communities.

If you are in a situation where staying at home is not an option please see Extension’s Moving Forward During COVID-19: Deciding Who, When and How Guide.  The guide will help you assess your risk by providing local resources to help you consider what’s happening with the virus locally, possible risks and benefits, time and context, as well as next steps in moving forward with the best decision for your situation.

In an effort to meet the varying needs of those who need to make these decisions, there is a worksheet, flowchart and click through to walk you through the decision-making process. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also has a decision-making tool that shows you how your decisions may impact others, how you can reduce risks of transmission and if there are other activities that you can do instead.

If you do need to leave your household this holiday season it is crucial to maintain 6 feet of physical distance, always wear a mask and frequently wash your hands.

Learn more about

Staying safe during the holidays

Practicing resilience during winter celebrations

Celebrating the holidays safely

Grief, loss and new traditions during the holidays 



This page is optimized for printing
Support Extension