While many people forgo get-togethers with family and friends to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they are finding creative and safe ways to celebrate the spirit of this most unusual holiday season.

“We’ve adapted and changed many areas of our lives over the past nine months, this holiday season will likely be the same,” said Dr. Zachary Baeseman, ThedaCare family medicine practitioner in Waupaca and Wild Rose and Associate Medical Director of Primary Care. ThedaCare is a Be Safe Wisconsin partner. “Let’s stay positive. What new traditions can you and your family create? How can you take more time to focus on the things that are important to you? We should all encourage one another to find safe ways to celebrate the special time.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants Wisconsinites to Consider Other Winter Holiday Activities, or at least a new twist on traditional ones.


Check out your community for a visit from Santa, screen time with him, a far-apart photo shoot and more. It might look and feel different, but kids can connect with Santa safely this year.

Santa Visits. Santa Claus is Coming to Appleton on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. through Dec. 22.

Santa Screen Time. Children might not be able to sit on Santa’s lap this year, but some stores and malls are reimagining the experience online. Macy’s Santaland at Home includes an interactive meet-and-greet with Santa. Sam’s Club offers a Session with Santa virtually. And T-Mobile is making video chat connections with Old St. Nick. Santa Calling lines are open daily through Dec. 23.

Santa Photo Shoot. Professional Photos with Santa from afar during contactless visits donning face masks is the norm this holiday season at the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute. Reservations are required.

Santa Mailbox. Write a letter to Santa and drop it off in a bright red mailbox at the office of Future Neenah, a Be Safe Wisconsin Partner. It is part of the organization’s Letters to Santa Mailbox program to keep kids connected to the jolly man in the red suit this holiday season. Or send your letter directly to Santa’s home: 123 ELF ROAD, NORTH POLE 88888, and be sure to put a stamp on it.

“Children are very resilient!” said Dr. Brittany Goodrich-Braun, MD, Family Medicine, Partnership Community Health Center, a partner of Be Safe Wisconsin. “They have experienced a lot of changes this year. Still, parents and caregivers need to explain that even though it is the holiday season, we must still practice social distancing and wear masks to keep ourselves and our communities safe. Also, there are still plenty of activities families can do at home to celebrate.”


Dr. Goodrich-Braun suggests going to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) website and read about Winter Holiday Activities. “There are some excellent suggestions on how to stay safe but still be festive!” Celebrating from home doesn’t mean you have to be alone.

Host a Virtual Potluck or Baking Party. Describe the flavors of your dish or baked good, taste-testing live. Share recipes and stories of your menu item – Why it is your favorite? Cooking mishaps? Funny reactions from others over the years?

Plan a virtual party.  Host a gift exchange where you send gifts in advance and then schedule a FaceTime or Zoom call to open them during the virtual get-together. Or take the “ugly” holiday sweater contest to a new level online.


  • Check out the local scene. Connect with your community for safe family activities nearby. Be Safe Wisconsin Partner Future Neenah brings an entire month of cheer downtown with a Very Neenah December. Check out the window displays at businesses, on foot or by car, and vote for your favorite on the Future Neenah Facebook page. Be sure to wear a mask and watch your distance – stay 6-feet apart – when venturing out close to home.
  • Brighten your nights. Visit homes in nearby neighborhoods decorated with holiday lights galore and even synchronized to music – all from the comfort of your car. Watch TV shows such as ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight – from the comfort of your home.

“It is perfectly safe to be outside, but you should not be in contact with other individuals or families and you should keep a mask with you at all times,” Dr. Goodrich-Braun said.


From shopping online to curbside pickup, you still can contribute to the gifts under the holiday tree this year with a little planning.

Shop Online. The CDC considers online shopping a “low risk” activity, so cozy up to your laptop or smartphone, fill up the cart and complete our delivery instructions from the safety of your home.

Contemplate curbside pickup. Most stores – big-box or not – are offering curbside service, including local small businesses, which offer “downtown direct to your door” in communities such as Oshkosh. The Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation is a Be Safe Wisconsin Partner.

Enjoy the season safely at home or close to home.