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Celebrating safely during the holidays

Dec. 16, 2020

The Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.

The holidays are upon us, and parents are evaluating which traditions and festive activities are safe for their ‘ohana to engage in this year. As our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations often involve sharing food, time and gifts, some adjustments are needed. The following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading national and local health organizations helps us keep health and safety at the center of our celebrations while still cherishing the things we and our keiki love about this joyous season.

These suggestions are meant to supplement our state health and safety laws, rules and regulations.


  • Celebrate and dine with family in your household: decorate the Christmas tree or a gingerbread house, bake cookies, take a walk or drive to see local Christmas lights and decorations. Share photos with ʻohana who cannot join you in person.
  • Recreate group traditions online. Pick a day when family and friends from different households can each lead different traditions: one family can sing, another can host a holiday craft or game, another can read prayers and stories.
  • Shop locally and online for gifts. There are many Hawaiʻi-made items that come with free shipping.
  • If you shop in person, consider small local boutiques. Call ahead to find out their lowest-traffic times or if they offer private shopping appointments.
  • Host a virtual gift exchange. Mail gifts to friends and loved ones ahead of time, and schedule a video call to open presents together.
  • Attend church services virtually – or outdoors with masks and social distancing.
  • Volunteer online. Inquire with your favorite community service providers if you and your ʻohana can donate time virtually this year.


  • Host or attend a gathering of more than one household. Keep it to just a few guests, according to county guidelines, and gather outdoors with masks. If you dine together, consider having each household bring their own food and utensils. If you choose to host a shared meal, avoid buffet style, and instead designate one person wearing a face mask to prepare each plate like a bento. This minimizes traffic in the kitchen as well as multiple people handling utensils and congregating over food.
  • Deliver gifts or holiday treats to the doorsteps of friends and families. Wish them Mele Kalikimaka with masks at a safe distance.
  • Arrange an outdoor holiday movie night with family and friends with people spaced at least six feet apart.
  • If you choose to visit ʻohana off-island, remember to get tested in advance, wear a mask at the airport and on the plane, wash or sanitize your hands and all the surfaces around your seat and maintain distance from individuals outside your household. Quarantine upon arrival if you can, for extra precaution.


  • Hosting or attending an indoor or large Christmas or New Year’s gathering. Unsupervised play and games, the passing of gifts and food to one another and long conversations at a close distance all increase the risk of spreading or contracting the virus.
  • Unmasked group singing and dancing
  • Contact sports like touch football, basketball and beach volleyball
  • Shopping for holiday gifts at crowded stores and malls, waiting in long lines
  • Overnight stays in someone else’s home
  • Sitting on Santa’s lap for photo-taking

Please remember our kūpuna are especially vulnerable. Take extra precaution around kūpuna this year: wear a mask, keep a safe distance while speaking, and give them as much aloha as possible while making their health a top priority. Talk with keiki beforehand so they understand how and why we have to behave differently around them this holiday.


Safe Celebrations
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Winter Holiday Advice and Ideas
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tips for Gathering Safely
Mayo Clinic

Is This Holiday Activity Safe?
One O‘ahu

“Gather Right. Stay Safe.” Videos
Hawaiʻi Department of Health

malama ola minute, safety and well-being, covid-19

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