Get creative to celebrate your holidays safely

cellphone taking photo of holiday table

The 2020 holiday season will look different for all of us, but we don’t have to avoid celebrating altogether. Instead, we can plan our holidays in a safe and responsible way.

There are many options to host unique events while still following the three Ws (wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands).

“Families and coworkers can connect and still stay safe over the holidays by embracing new and creative ways to engage,” said Gia Johnson, lead special event producer in the Office of Protocol and Special Events. “Consider outdoor activities like hiking, playing corn hole, or taking a walk. Use the phone or video conferencing to connect with family and friends you are not able to visit. Take a car ride with your immediate family to look at holiday lights and listen to music.”

Suzanne Tatum, Assistant Vice President, Protocol and Special Events, typically hosts family and travels often throughout the holiday season. However, this year, they are embracing more time at home. Tatum is participating in a virtual cookie decorating class with her daughter, a holiday-themed Zoom scavenger hunt with grandparents, nieces, nephews and children, as well as a casual outdoor Christmas Eve service at her church.

This is also a great time to consider giving back to the community through donations or other unique events.

“We are going to support the 2020 Worldwide Christmas Eve Jingle, which is an effort to spread some joy from the safety of your front doorstep. On Christmas Eve, people from all over are invited to ring a bell for two minutes, beginning at 6 p.m. This gesture will remind us all to pause and experience the magic of the holiday season,” said Tatum.

The Office of Protocol and Special Events has put together a few fun and innovative virtual event ideas to celebrate the holidays and stay connected without gathering in large groups.

Virtual gatherings

Sip and paint: Deliver cider and paint supplies and plan a virtual painting party lead by a local vendor.

Virtual gift exchange/Secret Santa: Purchase gifts online and send to one another, then gather virtually to open gifts.

Gingerbread decorating: Send gingerbread kits to family, friends or coworkers and have a virtual party where everyone decorates the houses together.

Virtual scavenger hunt: Create a list of items that can be found in your home or office (include AU items!) and host a virtual hunt and award prizes.

Fun with food

Cooking or baking demo: Send recipes ahead of a virtual event to allow participants to purchase ingredients if they want to follow along.

Tasting event: Deliver a box with samples of wine, cheese, oils and vinegars and gather virtually to try them. You could even hire a chef or food expert to do a virtual mini workshop.

Holiday recipe swap: Ask for one recipe from each staff member or family member, then categorize them and send the recipe collection.

Photos and music

2020 in retrospect: Collect your favorite family or team photos and favorite catch phrases to describe 2020. Share via email or during a virtual gathering.

Holiday playlist swap: Create holiday playlists to exchange with friends.

Giving back

Donate food or gifts: Support a local charity or campus group instead of holding a holiday gathering. Donate food or gifts to the Ronald McDonald House, Augusta University’s Open Paws Food Pantry or AU’s Healthy Grandparents Program.

Supplies drive: The Butterfly Cart and Birthday Cart inside AU Health are always in need of supplies. Hosting a drive to gather end of life or birthday items, then work with Volunteer Services and Community Engagement to have them delivered.

Support frontline staff: Write Christmas cards and notes of encouragement to send to our AU Health workers.

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Written by
Heather Henley

Heather Henley is Director of News and Information at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-4706 or

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Written by Heather Henley

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