Matt Hancock slipped into the role of chief Grinch as he banned hugging this Christmas, but hopes are rising families can meet up for festive dinners.
The Health Secretary suggested even if the strict coronavirus rules are relaxed over Christmas, Brits will still be expected to observe social distancing.
It will be a blow to families looking forward to a more "normal" end to December after a miserable 2020.
But he also raised hopes families will definitely be able to be together on the big day, even if the chairs have to be more spaced out than usual.
Multiple households are expected to be able to mingle, but not hug, for a few days surrounding the festive period.
The government is yet to reveal exactly what the plans will be.
Mr Hancock said there is a need to "respect the fact that we mustn't spread the virus further but also respect the fact that Christmas is a special time where people get together, especially with their families".
He added: "It's about getting the balance right and allowing people to have a Christmas that undoubtedly will be different this year but still try to have that cherished Christmas with your family as much as possible.
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"I've got no doubt that people will continue to respect social distancing throughout, because we know that that is so important for full control of the virus."
It comes after Metropolitan Police chief Dame Cressida Dick said the cops have "other things to do" than interrupt Christmas lunches to enforce Covid-19 rules.
She said officers won't be bursting into homes or knocking on doors unless there is evidence of a "huge" party.
Dame Cressida said: "I have no intention anyway of encouraging my people to be barging through people's doors or knocking on people's doors.
"Unless you've got, as we sometimes do, and then they can't barge, they may knock, a huge party going on.
"Which is very clearly very, very dangerous and causing lots of concerns in the neighbours, well then we may be knocking on doors, saying you need to stop this.
"I have no interest in interrupting family Christmas dinners. The police have lots of other things to be doing."
And speaking from Downing Street during a Friday evening briefing, Mr Hancock added that it is still too early to say what contact people will be able to have over Christmas and what additional restrictions may be required after lockdown is eased.
He told the Downing Street press conference: "We're doing the work on what happens after December 2 right now, it's still too early to tell.
"I'm afraid we still haven't made those decisions.
"Over Christmas I know how important it is that we have a system in place, a set of rules that both keeps people safe but also allows people to see their loved ones."
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