Healthy Holidays for the Whole Family

It’s the holiday season, and one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our families is the gift of health.  We’ve put together a list of helpful tips to safeguard the health of your entire family this winter.


While the holidays are all about sharing, there’s one thing you don’t want to share this year especially: GERMS.  


Holidays are traditionally a time to gather, but COVID-19 numbers are spiking across the country. 


To protect the ones you love, follow current CDC and state guidelines for the prevention of COVID, including handwashing, social distancing, and mask use. 


  • Read this link for CDC recommendations for holiday celebrations and small gatherings.


  • Download COVIDWISE, an app that uses bluetooth technology to help track your COVID exposure without compromising your privacy.  


  • Stay at home if you are sick or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID.




COVID isn’t the only health concern over the holidays.  Cold and flu season has arrived and other bugs, like Strep, are still being passed around.


  • Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.  


  • Wash, wash, wash your hands. And clean and sanitize high touch areas in your homes, especially door handles, sinks, and light switches. 


  • Keep yourselves and your kids warm by wearing appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.


  • Avoid sharing forks, spoons, and drinking utensils. People can be contagious before they know they’re sick, and family members can unintentionally spread illness throughout the house this way.



Food is at the center of a number of winter celebrations, but many traditional holiday foods are high on calories and low on nutrition. A few treats are fine, but consuming too many unhealthy foods can pose health risks.


  • Make it a priority to eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day and to stay hydrated.


  • Limit sugary drinks and snacks, along with “junk food.”


  • Encourage your children to eat nutritious foods first, saving the treats for last.  This “fuel first” approach teaches children to provide their bodies with what they need before they treat their tummies to foods they simply want. 




Physical activity gives kids energy, reduces body fat, builds strength, elevates mood, reduces stress, and helps fight illness. But cold weather and COVID restrictions may make fitness more challenging. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be active for 60 minutes each day, so make the time to get moving.  



    • Rubber resistance bands are inexpensive, occupy almost no space and let kids do strength-training moves indoors.
    • Attach a retractable net to your dining room table, and presto: table tennis! (Watch out for chandeliers.)
    • Replace your kid’s fidget spinner with a one-pound weight or even a can of beans.
    • An app called Sworkit lets you build your own workout, based on duration and type of exercise; it offers kid-specific options.
    • If your child is an extrovert, invite them to make their own fitness video to share with friends.
    • Send your kids on a scavenger hunt to find specific types of items in your house. Then, make them race to put it all back.
    • Write down exercises on small pieces of paper. Put them in a jar, and let family members choose from the jar. Everyone (yes, everyone) has to do the selected activity.
    • Build an obstacle course out of couch cushions or cardboard boxes.


  • Bundle up and get outside!  Walk, jog, bike, or hike.  Play a game of backyard soccer or tag football.  



Getting sufficient sleep during the holidays can help strengthen your immune system, improve your energy and focus levels, and make you less vulnerable to stress.


  • Stick to routines. With the school break, migrating meal schedules, and the excitement of celebrations, it’s easy to throw your sleep schedule out the door. But avoid that temptation and find consistency where you can.


  • Holidays can be overstimulating, especially for little ones. Your child’s sleep can be affected by this overstimulation as well as the additional excitement and stress of the holiday season. You can limit the effects of sleep loss and lengthen and improve your child’s sleep during both day and night by planning daily quiet time in a peaceful space. 


  • Got off track?  No worries, just work to get back to a normal routine before school starts again. If bedtime has shifted later than usual, gradually push it earlier by 15 minutes a night to make sure that your kids get the healthy sleep they need.





While some regard this as the most “wonderful” time of the year, for many, the holiday season can bring stress, exhaustion, and anxiety.  Shorter days and colder weather may trigger seasonal blues. Social distancing may keep you from spending the holidays with family and friends.  Financial concerns may mean you can’t gift or celebrate the way you’d like to.  And the holidays may bring sadness for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one.


  • The holiday hustle and bustle can leave parents feeling overworked, overcommitted, and overwhelmed. Battle the holiday blues by practicing self-care on a daily basis during this time of year.  Your children will benefit from having parents whose “cups are filled” and who model mentally healthy habits.


  • We tend to “pack it all in” during the holidays and leave insufficient time for ourselves.  Know your limits and boundaries when it comes time to overextending yourself.  Don’t be afraid to say “no.”  Saying “no” is a healthy form of self-care, especially when it can prevent you from getting involved in negative experiences.


  • Family time helps you create positive experiences for your children and reassures them that you’re available for them and their needs.  It provides your kids with a sense of belonging and an opportunity for you to show affection.  Schedule time to participate in family traditions or create new ones.


  • The holidays are one of the worst times of year to be isolated, so surround yourself and your children with (virtual) support.  Even if you can’t be with your friends and family physically, take the time to connect with them via phone or video chat.