Every morning when I wake up, I go to my NY Times news app and check the latest COVID-19 stats. Then I get depressed while I make my morning espresso. 

Over the last couple months, I have been watching blood red slowly spill out into the entire country. I’m in northern Illinois, and nearly our entire state is dark red now, a color the NY Times uses to mean that cases per capita are high.

The stats are updated daily, but as I’m writing this on Nov. 18, nationwide, COVID-19 cases are up 79 percent over the last 14 days, while deaths are up 38 percent, and hospitalizations are up 48 percent. 

It may be just the beginning of a dark winter ahead, as people move more activities indoors, increasing the risk of spreading the virus. 

There’s very good news, though. Two different U.S. companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have now announced successful vaccines, and both have said they hope to have to have some doses available within the next few months, with wider distribution expected throughout 2021.

In other words, it’s very likely that we just have to get through this winter. But that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. 

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread.” 

So, with that in mind, can I offer some advice? Please don’t celebrate Thanksgiving with anyone who doesn’t live with you. Send candy instead. 

In fact, don’t celebrate any of the upcoming holidays with anyone outside of your home. Again, send candy instead.

There are so many delicious options, as more companies have really embraced online sales. I hesitate to call out specific companies, because I don’t want anyone to feel left out, but there’s See’s Candies, Ghirardelli, countless companies on Amazon, Godiva, 1-800-Flowers, Vosges, and so many more. 

Etsy also offers confections from a variety of smaller artisan sellers, including Thanksgiving-specific chocolates like the Thanksgiving Care Package by Chocolate Express, pictured above.

For those on the candy selling side of things, the upcoming 2020 holidays presents a unique opportunity to show consumers that their health is your top priority. Encouraging them to send candy gifts while social distancing is the kind of marketing message people will fondly remember well after this is all over.

In fact, See’s Candies is already on top of this. To spread some holiday cheer this Thanksgiving, the company created a range of free cards to share with friends and family. Many of them specifically reference the struggles all of us have endured in the last year.

One card reads:

THANK YOU... for never turning down a video chat. 
Even though we can't be together, just seeing your face and hearing your voice has gotten me through. And your Zoom backgrounds are always fire.

While another reads:

THANK YOU... for never judging me when I eat the whole box of chocolates.
Quarantine is stressful and sometimes we just need an abundance of chocolatey goodness. 

It’s been a long 2020 for all of us, but anyone who works in the confectionery industry knows exactly how much joy chocolate and candy bring with them. With COVID-19 cases surging, we need that joy now more than ever. And when sent in place of spending time with loved ones in person, candy could literally save a life. 

I hope everyone in the confectionery industry has a safe and healthy holiday season and that all of us make it to the other side of this thing COVID-free. Personally, I can’t wait to see everyone in person again, roaming convention hall floors and touring factories. Until then, send candy.