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With virtually all Australian states preparing for Christmas out of lockdown, many citizens are gearing up for the 2021 holiday season.
The likelihood of enjoying a COVID-free Christmas, however, is rather slim, as case numbers in Melbourne and Sydney, in particular, are dropping, albeit at a snail's pace.
Although vaccination rates are contrastingly strong and rising, state authorities are still hesitant to open borders, articulating that an influx of interstate travellers may cause subsequent spikes in COVID-19 case numbers.
Despite concerns, however, a large number of states will be opening their borders to interstate travellers between late November and early December.
As it's likely that borders are set to open prior to Christmas to gauge the safety risks of having zero COVID-19 restrictions during the Christmas period, many Aussie families are still taking measures to ensure that their holiday festivities are effectively COVID-safe.
Families with immunocompromised members or individuals with vaccine exemptions are also making the decision to organise a COVID-safe Christmas, with minimal travel plans and alternative activities for all traditional Aussie Christmas Day staples.
Here are a few ways families can celebrate a cheery COVID-safe Christmas this holiday season.
Celebrating Christmas through gift hampers
In common vernacular, gift hampers in Australia are also referred to as 'holiday hampers' simply because the contents of these thoughtful, bountiful gifts can generally provide a recipient and their wider household with all the works that are needed for a luxurious Christmas lunch or dinner spread.
A Christmas gift hamper filled with crackers, bonbons, fruit cake, and a myriad of other seasonal treats can effectively ensure that your family experiences shared Christmas cheer regardless of whether or not you're celebrating in the same state.
For families who may be celebrating across state borders, sending a gift hamper in time for Christmas day may allow you and your loved ones to enjoy the same Christmas treats and delights despite not being able to meet up physically for your annual seasonal festivities.
There is also a lot of excitement to be had in opening gift hampers together, even during a video call.
Families can glean a lot of shared joy from unpacking the contents of their hampers bit by bit, and sharing in the anticipation of your family's virtual Christmas lunch or dinner.
In essence, gift hampers can provide families having a remote Christmas with the perfect foundation for their COVID-safe celebrations.
Trading travel in for treats in your hometown
Whilst it's common for many families to use the holiday season to take a long and luxurious summer vacation, there's no denying that all of Australia's most popular sights and destinations are looking to be inundated with tourists.
Whilst interstate travel may be possible once more, you and your family may decide to forego hitting the road as quickly as you can, and wait for the quiet off-season to take a far more tranquil summer holiday.
Opt to staycation this Christmas season, and take advantage of being able to explore your wider surroundings, otherwise known as the world outside your neighbourhood that was cut out of your life with the untimely introduction of lockdown restrictions and travel bubbles.
Chances are, you won't regret this unique opportunity to show your hometown some TLC.
Supporting local businesses this holiday season
Speaking of showing your hometown some TLC, there's no denying that small business owners have been monumentally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having to close their doors for virtually two years has undoubtedly negatively impacted many of your favourite small businesses, so it's well worth taking some time this holiday season to be a patron at all your local haunts and show them some much-needed support over your family's Christmas break.
Supporting your local shops and small business owners is another fantastic reason to have a staycation this holiday season too!
You may even decide to source a few gift baskets specially for your favourite faces in your community just to make sure that their Christmas feels just as bright as yours despite all the doom and gloom of the past two years.
Paying gratitude to frontline workers
Finally, although interstate travel will be allowed this coming Christmas season, it's still worth noting that many Australians are concerned about indulging in their newfound freedom.
The concern for many Victorians, in particular, is that the Christmas period will devolve into a period of overcrowded hospitals and spikes in case numbers, leading to other lockdowns in January 2022.
Although most Australians are eagerly anticipating a Christmas that may be free from the threat of lockdowns and oppressive COVID-19 restrictions, the freedom and liberties of this coming holiday season could only be achieved through the tireless efforts of Australian doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals.
It's not just in our best interests to stay COVID-safe this Christmas, but also in the best interests of our frontline workers as well, as they above all else, sorely deserve to relax and unwind this summer.
Frontline workers have made great sacrifices to ensure that Aussie families can be reunited this holiday season, so it's well worth expressing our appreciation for their efforts this Christmas by giving your friends and loved ones charitable gifts or by making your own donations to your local hospital or even to organisations that represent medical and healthcare professionals.
If there's nothing you can give, it's simply enough to savour this holiday season, be grateful for this time with your loved ones in whatever capacity you're able to spend time with them and recognise that this Christmas was only made possible by the efforts of Australian healthcare professionals, and the power of community care.
It's well worth discussing how you'd like to celebrate Christmas 2021 with your wider family as well to ensure that you're all on the same page and possess shared anticipation for the season ahead.
In doing so, you'll ensure that this Christmas season is guaranteed to be one that the whole family can enjoy, regardless of whether you're all sitting at the same table, or grinning into your webcams.