Now that we are experiencing a surge in respiratory viruses throughout Oregon and the nation, it might be time to have a contingency plan in place for the holidays. No one likes to cancel plans, especially over the holidays, but we all must try and reduce the spread of viruses. Here are five ways you can change your plans at the last minute if you, your kids, or your family become sick over the holidays. These ideas will hopefully inspire you to have a fun alternative in mind and minimize the disappointment your kids may have from canceled plans. 

The Current State of Respiratory Illnesses in Oregon

For some context, the week ending November 26th resulted in a 30.1% positivity rate for Influenza A. What this means is that out of everyone who had a flu test performed, 30% of the tests came back with a positive result. This is a substantial number and higher than we are used to seeing this time of year. For comparison, the weekly positivity rate for COVID-19 in Oregon is 9.6%, and the weekly positivity rate for RSV is 28.5%. All of these positivity rates are considered above the normal threshold and are driving the increased demand for services in local pediatrician offices, urgent cares, and emergency rooms. 

We can all do our part by staying home when sick to help reduce the further spread of these respiratory illnesses. 

5 Ways to Change Your Holiday Plans

No one wants to change their plans at the last minute or disappoint their kids, especially during the holidays. Here are five ways you can save the day and bring joy to your kids, even if they are sick. You can also use these ideas if everyone is healthy for some extra holiday fun:

1. Find drive-thru light displays: Throughout Oregon, there are multiple light displays to enjoy; some are free, while others require admission. You will also need a reservation for a few of them. Here are some of the local drive-thru attractions you can check out:

While there are plenty of other spectacular light displays throughout Oregon, these are the ones you can enjoy from your car if someone in your household is not feeling well.

2. Have an at-home movie theatre party: There is nothing better than piling couch cushions on the floor, wrapping up in blankets, and watching a movie. Create a movie-theatre experience for your kids by popping popcorn, serving fun snacks, and watching a holiday movie together. Check out this idea for setting up the perfect cocoa bar as an additional fun treat for your party. Here is a list of Christmas movies to watch with kids if you need some help choosing one. 

3. Start a new tradition: In our family, we have learned to turn canceled plans into an opportunity for new traditions. The Thanksgiving after my youngest son was born (October 2020), we were not able to gather with family, so we drove through the Oregon Zoo Lights and ate takeout in our car. While it may not be glamorous, it is a memory we will always cherish.

So, if your Holiday plans get canceled, take the opportunity to try something new and make special memories your kids will remember.

Check out some of these ideas for Fun International Christmas Traditions You Can Do At Home.

4. Get take-out and support local businesses: A fun treat for you and your kids can be ordering a take-out feast for your holiday meal. Save the time and hassle of cooking a large meal if someone is not feeling well, and order take-out instead. This may require some pre-planning a day or two before, as not all restaurants are open on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Here is a list of Portland area restaurants that were open for take-out on Christmas last year.  

5. Take your festivities outdoors: If all else fails and you need to attend a holiday gathering despite someone in your household or another guest being ill, try and celebrate outdoors. While this does not eliminate the risk of spreading respiratory viruses, it can lower the chance of transmission. Adding additional layers of protection, such as masking and spreading out families while eating, can help as well.

Check out these tips from the Oregon Health Authority about staying safe this holiday season.

Final Thoughts

While I hope everyone has a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season, you can use these ideas to make memories and celebrate even if your kids are sick. Life-long memories and new traditions are sometimes created when we least expect them.