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Getting Ready for Christmas: Hands of an Anonymous Woman Packing Christmas Presents for her Loved Ones

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If you’ve ever had the experience of entering into a new relationship just before the holidays, you know that navigating this time of year with a new beau can be quite awkward. On one hand, the relationship is still quite young and immature in a sense. Everything is new and fun. You’re still getting to know one another and many of those “deeper” conversations have yet to take place. You may not want to burden the relationship with the serious tone that may accompany spending the holidays together. On the other hand, you can feel this relationship blossoming. You already spend most of your free time either with or in communication with your new love, so why should the holidays be any different?

This year, the new relationship awkwardness has been taken to a new level as a result of  COVID-19 which threatens to flip traditional holiday festivities on their heads. Now, not only do you have to figure out what is appropriate for the current stage of the relationship you’re in, but you have to do so while navigating a pandemic.

Should you exchange gifts at all?

The question of whether or not to exchange gifts with a new partner is always an awkward conversation during the holiday season; however, the economic impact that coronavirus has had on the United States makes that question more awkward than ever. Many are without jobs and/or are feeling the financial pinch as they struggle to support loved ones as they attempt to make ends meet. All of this can make the mere mention of gift-giving come off as insensitive and tone-deaf.

Husband making a surprise giving a present to his wife at home

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If so, how much should be spent on gifts?

For the first holiday that they spend together, couples will often wonder how much to spend on their new partner. They may worry that spending too little will make them appear cheap and not invested in the relationship and spending too much will make their lover uncomfortable. This has been made worse by COVID. With so much uncertainty surrounding the economy and job security, some have become especially careful about how they spend their coins, while others have been inspired to adopt a YOLO-esque mindset.

Romantic couple exchanging christmas gifts at night, New York, USA

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Should you spend the holidays together at all?

Of course, gift-giving is only the tip of the iceberg. New couples often question whether or not to spend the holidays together, but now that COVID is a major concern, there are even more factors to consider. This is especially true for couples in long-distance relationships as one party would have to take the risk of traveling via commercial airlines by another form of public transportation to be reunited with their partner. And while some experts will argue that flying presents low virus transmission risk, the holiday season is known to be an especially busy travel season.

Cozy winter dinner at home

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Should you attend family gatherings together?

With health officials discouraging large gatherings for the holidays, many couples will wonder whether or not it’s worth it for them to attend another’s family gatherings. Even worse, many couples choose to house-hop during holidays so that they don’t have to separate while also avoiding depriving the other of seeing their family of origin. Of course, visiting multiple gatherings presents an even greater risk of infection.

Lovely mutli generation family cooking together

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Should we postpone meeting the parents?

The holiday season is a time when many new couples will meet one another’s parents. However, as a result of COVID-19 and older Americans being especially vulnerable to experiencing complications, not everyone will be comfortable bringing new people around their potentially high-risk parents. This isn’t a choice to be taken personal, it’s about the greater good.

Baking a cake in oven

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Should you bring a dish?

Should you choose to attend a partner’s family gathering, etiquette says that you should not show up empty-handed, but COVID makes potluck-style dinners especially risky. You may feel torn as you try to figure out whether your dish will be well-received by your partner’s family or picked over due to the fact that it came from a near-stranger’s kitchen.

African American woman wearing a facemask while working at the office

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There might be potential differences regarding safety precautions

Let’s be honest, not everyone sees eye-to-eye when it comes to taking preventative measures. Refusal to wear masks has become associated with a certain political party and their attempts to practice civil disobedience. Not everyone is following social distancing guidelines and of course, you have those folks who will argue you down when you remind them to wash their hands. This can create awkward and uncomfortable moments — especially when you’re spending the holidays with a partner’s family.

Doctor showing covid-19 tube test and sampling swab

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COVID testing may be required for some family functions

As a prerequisite to attend the holiday festivities, some families are making it a requirement that relatives quarantine for two weeks beforehand and undergo COVID testing prior to attendance. Of course, this can be a huge commitment to attend a dinner with some people you’ve never met before or barely even know.

Champagne popping for New Year.

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Should you drink?

Partners may also fail to see eye to eye when it comes to alcohol and the holidays. Health experts have advised against heavy drinking during the pandemic for multiple reasons. For one, when a person becomes tipsy or drunk, they are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior and less likely to practice social distancing. Secondly, doctors say that alcohol weakens the immune system, thus increasing one’s potential risk of contracting COVID.

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