The holidays are usually a time where families come together, friends throw festive parties and everyone continues centuries long traditions. With COVID-19, how will this look different?

Can we still safely, do all of the things that make the holidays feel like the holidays, even when everything else about this year has felt different? The most important thing that we should continue this time of year is keeping ourselves, our families and our communities safe. Here are some ways to make sure you are doing your part this holiday season.

One of the most popular activities done around the holidays is travel. Whether it is to visit family and friends, escape to a snow capped mountain for skiing or a tropical location for some relaxation, there is a lot of movement around the holidays.

The safest thing to do would be not travel at all. There are many quarantines, safety restrictions and more that would be broken if the typical amount of travel happens. Although, if you do choose to travel, here are some precautions to take before and while doing so.

First, make sure that you have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19 two weeks prior to traveling. If you have been or suspect you have been, get tested and make sure you receive a negative result prior to traveling or push back, even cancel, your vacation.

While travelling, make sure to avoid large, public crowds, keeping at least 6 ft of distance between others as much as you can. Carry sanitary wipes to use on shared surfaces like an airplane seat or tray table. In addition to the wipes, make sure to have hand sanitizer on hand and always use before eating or touching your face.

Most importantly, do not forget to wear a face mask while traveling and have a backup on hand in case one becomes dirty or is misplaced.

Many small businesses around the country have been struggling since COVID-19 began. With necessary quarantines and limitations in capacities, businesses have had a much smaller income than years before.

Big companies are continuing to grow with online sales and fast shipping while small businesses are being pushed out because they do not have the same resources. This holiday season, consider purchasing gifts from local stores whether that is in person or online.

Look for a time to visit the store when they may not be as busy or order gifts earlier from these stores online as shipping may take longer than it would from Amazon or Target.

There are many local business in Spokane that could you use some attention this holiday season and are great options for heartfelt, special and unique gifts.

Consider looking at Atticus Coffee, Fern, Auntie’s Bookstore, Boulevard Mercantile and more. All of these stores are local to Spokane and offer a wide range of gifts including clothing, plants, books, trinkets, games, art, home decor, instruments, posters, food and so much more.

If you are not holiday shopping in Spokane, you can visit these store’s websites for shipping information or research local businesses around you.

These are only a couple of ways to stay safe and help your community this holiday season. There are so many more options that will help you to positively contribute to other’s happiness and safety while maintaining your own.

Remember that although this year is different, as long as we all follow safety recommendtions and consider the well being of our neighbors, we will all be together and back to normal again soon.

Marin Counter is a contributor. 

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