Starting January 11, Washington will follow a phased regional recovery approach, beginning with continued restrictions on gatherings. Read more here >>
Although the COVID-19 vaccine is now available, it will be several months until everyone in our state has the opportunity to get vaccinated.
While we wait, it’s still important to continue wearing masks, staying 6 feet apart, and avoiding gatherings with people we don’t live with. That makes for celebrations that look a little different. Even though it’s hard, there are lots of ways to spend time together, even when we’re apart.
Ideas for Safer Celebrations
Take the cheering online | Even though you can’t get together in person, a virtual watch party is a great way to catch the big game. Put on your team gear and yell at the screen with your friends via video chat. Recap the team’s performance on commercial breaks. Maybe even try a team trivia contest at half time.Image
Surprise delivery | Missing your game day tailgate? Order takeout and have it delivered to a friend who will also be enjoying the game from home. Perhaps this act of kindness will bring the positive vibes your team needs. I mean, it can’t hurt, right?
Snack rivalries | Challenge your friends to make a game day snack or beverage that showcases your favorite college or pro team’s colors or mascot. Blue corn chips and guacamole, anyone? Show-off your creations on video chat and add some friendly competition with an online poll to award a snack champion.
B-I-N-G-O | Before the game starts, create and email custom bingo boards to all your friends and family watching at home. Make each square something that could happen during the game. Think: Touchdown dance. Penalty kick. Coach yelling at a ref. Failed extra point. Etc. Bingo winner earns bragging rights until the next game.
Masks for the win | We can’t pass up the opportunity to encourage masking up whenever you leave home. Face coverings with team logos are all the rage this season. Showcase your team spirit while showing your community you care about keeping them healthy.
On-screen party | Sure, it won’t be quite the same, but scheduling virtual gatherings can take the sting out of being separated for a birthday. Getting together online to cook, open gifts, do a craft project, listen to a playlist, or read stories can create a bit of the togetherness we crave. Consider time zones when scheduling, and make sure that any people who are not tech-savvy get help beforehand so they can be included.
No-contact gift-giving | Mail or set up a no-contact delivery of a small gift or dessert for the birthday person on their special day. Open gifts on a group video chat, eat some sweet treats, and show them that you care. Better yet, record yourself singing “Happy Birthday” and send the video on their big day. If you’re tech savvy, you can compile recordings from friends and family into a single video.
Game night | If you’re celebrating someone who thrives on competition, trivia, charades, and many board games can all work great online. Or try out a virtual bake-off, talent show or scavenger hunt where teams race to find common and not-so-common items around their house. This is also a fun one to set up for kids so they can connect virtually with friends.
Play dress-up | If you have a willing crowd, create a theme for your virtual birthday party. Themed masks, silly hats or ugly sweaters give everyone something to laugh and talk about.
Drive-by parade | Organize a drive-by (or distanced walk-by) parade, complete with decorations, signs, and music to pass by the home of the person you’re celebrating.
More Ideas for Safe and Fun Activities
Remote potluck | Rather than getting together, you can assign dishes to friends and family and deliver them to each other's homes. Or deliver just the ingredients for a dish. Then, log in to your favorite video chat app to cook or dig in.Image
Learn a recipe together | Pick a favorite family recipe, share an ingredient list ahead of time with friends or family, and then get together virtually to try it out. Good times are guaranteed, whether you end up with delicious dumplings or poorly-decorated cookies.
Living room or backyard camping | Depending on the weather and your thirst for adventure, set up a tent or build a fort and “camp out” for the night, complete with a virtual video chat from your exotic getaway.
Virtual performances | With public events on pause, many performers are bringing their creativity and talents to people’s homes through virtual performances. Get together virtually to watch a favorite artist. Or, host a virtual open mic with friends and family to share music or read aloud.
Get moving | It can be hard to stay active right now. Exchange workout ideas with friends, or create an exercise challenge or friendly competition among your group to stay accountable and keep it fun.
Winter Holidays (archived)
While the traditional feast, end-of-year parties, and crowded tables are on hold, there are still fulfilling ways to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
Giving thanks | In a year filled with challenges, it can feel good to pause and consider the things for which we are grateful, whether that be a person, pet, place or thing. Highlight these bright spots by writing them down or sending notes, texts or emails to people in your life to express why you are grateful for them.
On-screen get togethers | Sure, it won’t be quite the same, but scheduling a few virtual holiday gatherings can take the sting out of being separated. Getting together online to cook, open gifts, decorate desserts, do a craft project, listen to a playlist, or read stories can create a bit of the togetherness we crave. Consider time zones when scheduling, and make sure that any people who are not tech-savvy get help beforehand so they can be included.
Secret gift exchange | Assign each family or friend a name, and ask them mail or do a no-contact delivery of a small gift they make or buy to their assigned person. Open gifts on a group video chat and try to guess who gave what to whom.
Play dress-up | If you have a willing crowd, create a theme for your virtual party. Themed masks, silly hats or ugly sweaters can give everyone something to laugh and talk about.
Remote potluck | Rather than getting together, you can assign dishes to friends and family and deliver them to one another’s homes. Or deliver just the ingredients for a dish or meal. Then, log in to your favorite video chat app to cook or dig in.
Learn a recipe together | Haven’t you always thought Nonna deserves a cooking show? Pick a favorite family recipe, share an ingredient list ahead of time with friends or family, and then get together virtually to try cooking or baking. Good times are guaranteed, whether you end up with delicious dumplings or poorly decorated cookies.
Game night | If you thrive on competition, make your virtual gatherings about more than just conversation. Trivia, charades, and even board games, can all work great online. Or try out a virtual bake-off, talent show or a scavenger hunt where teams race to find common and not-so-common items around their house. This is also a fun one to set up for kids so they can connect virtually with friends.
Indoor gathering restriction | Check for gathering restrictions for your region’s current phase. If you are planning to have friends or family gather inside your home to watch the game, everyone must complete the quarantine requirements as outlined in the restriction. For more tips, see the safer gatherings checklist.
Typical trick-or-treating and costume parties will need to change a bit this year to help keep everyone safe. No matter how you choose to celebrate, remember the basics: limit close contact with others outside your household, limit common touch points, and wash or sanitize hands.
Ideas for safer (but still spooky) good timeImage
- Hold a candy hunt (think Easter egg hunt, but more costumes) at home with your immediate family, or in a park or outside with friends and neighbors. Household teams can take turns if you’re including friends and neighbors.
- Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with friends.
- If you’re feeling crafty, decorate different doors at home and have your kids knock on each one to trick-or-treat.
- Love to dress up and decorate? Hold a virtual costume party so everyone can show off their creations and carved pumpkins. Consider making it a challenge to create a costume from items you already have at home.
- Exchange candy with families you know. Do a drop-off delivery at their doorstep for a Halloween surprise for the kids.
- Organize a neighborhood costume parade with physical distancing. Use jack-o-lanterns to light the way.
For older youth and adults
- Keep any gatherings small, outdoors when possible or in larger well-ventilated spaces where you can stay 6 feet apart.
- Incorporate a mask that covers your nose and mouth snugly into your costume. Better yet, decorate your mask to incorporate into your costume!
- Organize a virtual costume party or pumpkin carving contest, make a spooky playlist to share, or gather for an online watch party of your favorite scary movie.
- Host a walking or bicycle party where guests parade down the street in costume, staying at least six feet apart.
- Spread happiness by dropping a Halloween goodie bag or pumpkin on the doorsteps of friends and loved ones.
- Cook up a Halloween-themed meal or treats with people in your household.
If you plan to trick-or-treat
The trick with trick-or-treating right now is that visiting your neighbors’ doorsteps, or even coming together for trunk-or-treating, brings people in close contact with one another. Offering candy in a large bowl that kids all reach into also has risks. Traditional trick-or-treating is discouraged. But if you’re still thinking of participating in trick or treating, even in a limited fashion, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Wear a mask. Even if your child’s costume covers their face, it won’t protect them and others unless it fully covers their nose and mouth. And remember, children under 2 should not wear masks, but if older than 2, incorporate a protective mask into your child’s costume.
- Wear a mask if passing out candy, and make sure children don't crowd. Hand out candy individually rather than inviting kids to reach into a communal bowl. Or put candy on a small table outside where kids can easily grab a piece without touching others.
- Teach your children to ask for candy to be put in their container/bag, rather than grabbing from a common container.
- Make sure you and your children stay six feet away from others at all times.
- Keep hands clean. Wash hands before you head out and when you get home. And bring hand sanitizer with you so kids can clean their hands between house visits.
- Set aside any candy that comes from outside your household for 24 hours before allowing children to handle it. The chance of COVID infection from packaged food is low, but it is not without risk. Purchase a small amount of candy in advance so that you can have candy on-hand that your kids can eat immediately on Halloween.
If you do choose to get together with others for Halloween, you may be putting yourself at risk for COVID-19 infection. Help lessen the risk by keeping the group small, wearing masks and making sure you have room for guests to stay spread out. If inside, open windows to increase ventilation. See our safer gatherings checklist to learn more.