The winter months are traditionally when we come together to celebrate with family and friends. And while events and gatherings will certainly look different this season, there are still lots of fun and creative ways to make the most of winter in Chicagoland — while staying safe along the way.
Planning Ahead for Safer Celebrations
Whether you’re planning to travel, host a gathering, or simply stay in with those closest to you, remember to look for guidance from local and national public health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a useful list of up-to-the-minute guidelines and precautions to take during the winter holidays available here. You can also find the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) “COVID-19 Holiday Season Safety Tips” here.
Here are some of the important guidelines and best practices to keep in mind as we head for the holidays:
- Hosting a holiday event? The CDC encourages limiting the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least six feet apart. Consider postponing the event until next year or moving it online, when possible. Encourage guests to avoid direct contact with others not from their household. Encourage everyone to wear a mask except when eating or drinking, particularly during indoor events. Host as much as possible in the open air. Promote ventilation indoors by keeping windows and doors open as much as possible.
- Attending a holiday party or gathering? Regularly wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or before eating. Wear a mask and maintain physical distancing with others not in your household. Do not attend any holiday events if anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or if they may have been exposed any time in the last 14 days. For more safety tips, visit the CDC’s guide to personal and social activities.
- Eating or drinking? Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and shared items between use, using EPA-approved disinfectants. Encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household; avoid potlucks and buffets. Try to have only one masked person serve and handle all the food; use disposable utensils and plates or encourage guests to bring their own. For more safety ideas, check out the CDC’s guide to food safety during the holidays.
- Traveling? Consider postponing travel or staying home if you or anyone in the household might be at increased risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Follow all state and local travel restrictions before, during, and after your trip. Limit contact with others for at least 14 days before and after traveling. Wear a mask in all public settings, and try to stay at least six feet apart from others who are not in your household. Wash your hands regularly, especially after pumping gas or shopping. For more, visit the CDC’s guide to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coping With Seasonal Stress
The holiday season can be stressful; the added difficulties of COVID might make it feel even tougher this year. Remember to go easy on yourself, and leave lots of time for activities that will bring you joy.
For important resources and ideas you can use to protect your mental health during this unusual and unpredictable time, visit the CDC’s guide to managing stress and anxiety. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Remember that everyone experiences stress and responds to situations differently. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone.
- Take regular breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those you find on social media.
- Take care of your body by doing breathing exercises; eating healthy and well-balanced meals; making time to exercise; and getting plenty of sleep.
- Make time to unwind and focus on activities you truly enjoy — whether that means watching a movie, working on an art project, or even simply taking the dog out for a walk.
- Connect with others. Write letters or schedule video calls with your loved ones. Look into local and national resources that can help you stay connected and get support when you need it.
Finding Festive Activities to Enjoy at Home
Hunkering down for a cozy winter at home? This year is a great opportunity to start up a new holiday tradition, or put your personal spin on an old favorite.
Looking for a little inspiration? Here are a few festive, socially distanced ideas to try this holiday season:
- Take your holiday parties online. Zoom and Skype can be great spaces for seeing friends and family from all around the country — and there’s no limit to how social your online parties can get! Try hosting a cocktail hour where everyone whips up their favorite drink, or a virtual cookie swap where each participant bakes up another guest’s favorite recipe. There are lots of easy ways to take a game night or movie night online, so you can enjoy your seasonal favorites even at a distance. Looking to host a remote Secret Santa? Try using a remote online Secret Santa organizer such as Elfster, Draw Names, or Sneaky Santa.
- Get crafty. If you’ve always wanted to make your own holiday decor or gifts, now is the time. Look up online guides or sign up for a virtual tutorial, and soon you could be well on your way to handcrafting a wreath, decorating a gingerbread house, painting your own ornaments, or knitting a comfortable winter scarf or blanket. Teach yourself graphic design by creating your own ecard, or craft a greeting card by hand and send it through the mail. Try whipping up your own wrapping paper, and using it to wrap up festive care packages for friends in your neighborhood.
- Bake up something tasty. You may not need to bake up hundreds of cookies this year, but you can still indulge in your seasonal favorites — or try your hand at something new! To give away your sweet treats, consider embracing your inner elf. Make up care packages and then leave them on the doorsteps of your friends and family.
- Decorate for the season. Decorating is one of the most surefire ways to get in the seasonal spirit in no time. This year, embrace your biggest winter fantasies with string lights, candles, wreaths, and lots of cozy flourishes. You can also go out and look at light displays and other decorations in your community from a distance. This could be a fun opportunity to make up a scavenger hunt or play a game of “I spy…” with your little ones.
Chicagoland, We’re By Your Side — No Matter What
This is the season for enjoying the comforts of home with the ones you love, while taking some time to remember what’s truly important — health, family, and the bonds that tie us all together. Whether it’s now serving as a school, office, playground, or simply a safe space, our home has never been more important. We know this is as well as anyone. At Baird & Warner, Chicagoland has been our home for 165 years.
We are here for you, no matter what. Our first priority is the health and safety of our people and their families, as well as our clients and their loved ones. We understand that you still have important real estate decisions to make, and our mission is to make achieving those goals easier. We will continue to provide the most updated information and guide you through this extraordinary time with a calm and steady hand.