By 18th November 2020NEWS

How to get the best out of the first, and hopefully last, coronavirus Christmas

With cheering news about vaccines and talk that life could begin to return to normal as early as spring, 2021 promises to be a year filled with family, friends, hugs and celebrations.

But until then, large indoor gatherings are not only inadvisable but against regulations, while Zoom and socially distanced outdoor meet-ups remain the order of the day. With many longing to enjoy the festive season with their nearest and dearest after a year apart, Lucy Hume, associate director of Debrett’s, has some words of advice on getting the best out of a Christmas like no other.

Please credit the Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining if using these tips. To speak with a Debrett’s expert about Christmas 2020, contact 

“While the encouraging news about vaccines suggests that normality is finally on the horizon, Christmas 2020 will still involve compromise, consideration and adaptation,” says Lucy Hume. “But by combining family traditions with new technology, wrapping up warm to meet outside and being ready to adapt to any new guidelines, it can still be a Christmas to remember.

“Get a head-start, sending cards and presents earlier than usual to allow for any Covid-related delays (or if recipients want to quarantine their packages before handling them).

“Know when to go analogue. Make time for handwritten Christmas cards and thank you letters, and a phone call to older family members who might not be comfortable with Zoom.

“Designate some screen-free time on Christmas Day; no Whatsapping over the Christmas dinner. And as lovely as a big family meal can be, piling into turkey and all the trimmings over Google Meet is perhaps a step too far – there’s no need to watch each other chewing parsnips.

“Many of us still have Zoom quiz fatigue after lockdown part one, so give the Kahoot app a day off and keep it traditional with charades, Pictionary or a family singalong.

“If restrictions allow, take the celebrations outdoors: pack a Christmas picnic hamper for al fresco festivities with friends or family. Remember extra layers, a plastic-backed rug, wellies and a flask of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Even if guidelines change, fresh air is always a great cure for the ‘Twixtmas’ slump between Christmas and New Year.

Mind your manners (even if you’re in your pyjama bottoms)
“Deploy social media etiquette: if you’re able to enjoy a large family gathering, be sensitive on social media if others are shielding or unable to celebrate as they’d wish.

“Consider a dress code. We’ve been keeping it casual most of the year, so make the most of the chance to dress up (at least from the waist up if you’re on Zoom).

“Remember those who are on their own; schedule a Zoom call or a socially-distanced drive-by.

In person
“Keep calm in the face of last-minute changes of plan. Have back-up supplies in the freezer and Deliveroo on speed-dial in case you’re suddenly allowed extra guests.

“If you’re allowed to mingle on the day, try to give guests space and avoid communal dishes and snack bowls.”

The Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining
With the promise of a brighter, more sociable year ahead, the brand new Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining is a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves to throw a party. It’s a comprehensive guide to hosting every kind of celebration from weddings to beach picnics and everything in between; high days and holidays, rites of passage, dinner parties, days at the races, evenings at the opera, festival food and yes, even virtual celebrations.

The Debrett’s Guide to Hosting & Entertaining is available in our Christmas shop along with beautiful, leather-bound notebooks and 2021 diaries.