by Meghan Fitzgerald
This year, holidays will be like no other, and so many people are foregoing the travel and traditional get togethers in order to keep the people we love safe. If you are lucky enough to live near to those dear to you, though, you do have a safe way to get together—move your gathering outdoors!
As many of us prepare to move holiday celebrations outside, we’ve been asking ourselves the same question—how can we make an outdoor version of our holiday safe, comfortable and as magic as the old indoor festivities? And, how can we get the various generations to interact with one another safely, especially in the wintery weather?
First, if you are worried about how to help kids learn to keep a safe distance, we’ve got you covered. Check out winter-friendly mask options in our Winter Accessory Guide and tips to help kids embrace masks, too.
Next, try to stay flexible about which day you’ll gather. People’s social calendars are often quite flexible these days, and it’s well worth watching the weather to pick the day with the most sunshine and least wind. Encourage everyone to dress in layers and bring blankets for when they are seated or just need to feel a little extra warmth.
If it’s really chilly, consider giving out a goodie bag with hand warmers (or my old-school favorite, baked potatoes wrapped in tinfoil). Just feeling prepared and being able to add or shed layers helps people of all ages feel more confident and comfortable in a wintery outdoor setting. Or, trade the family photo of everyone in their holiday pajamas for a shot of everyone wearing the same color scarf!
You can also provide ways to warm loved ones from the inside like warm cider, tea or hot chocolate, but be really careful about how you serve and eat it. Eating and drinking are the activities that put us at highest risk, so be sure that you bring a separate batch of whatever you are serving for each “pod” and space pods out by at least 6 feet of more when masks are down and eating and drinking are happening.
Wondering how to help relatives of all ages, especially grandparents, engage with young kids outdoors? Try any of these ideas for sweet activities:
If you have access to a fire pit, warming and watching the fire can keep all ages cozy and engaged for longer outdoors in winter. Plus, fires and light have featured in early winter festivities for centuries, adding joyful light to any gathering. But, it can feel tricky to introduce young kids to fire. We’ve really enjoyed this simple, playful and effective way to teach fire safety helpful on the summer campsite and in our winter warming fires.
Make a Circle of Safety:
Before you start your fire, use rope, string or even a series of colorful stones to lay out what we call a “circle of safety—such that there is 4 feet between the string and the fire all the way around. If your kids are old enough to help, let them contribute. Otherwise, you can narrate to wee ones about what you are doing as you set it up.
Once the circle is in place, play a bit around the circle, reinforcing that the circle is an area no one except a grown up should step inside. For example, you can play tag for a bit with the added rule that you become “it” if you step in the circle.
Once the fire is lit, the clearly visible safety zone helps kids learn to keep themselves safe and helps you and other grown ups know when to prompt kids to back up a bit when you gather around the fire.
However you set up your outdoor gathering, and no matter how long everyone lasts, we celebrate with you your chance to see one another and to share in a moment together outdoors and all of the goodness that brings for the heart, body and mind. Happy outdoor holidays to all!
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