For as long as we can remember, the holiday season has conjured up images of a large family sitting around a long dining room table together. We love seeing that army of children running around the tree. And it’s a highlight of the year to have all of our relatives enjoying a meal under one roof.
This year, though, our holiday celebrations will look a little different as we take care to keep ourselves and our families safe. We might have to let go of a few personal preferences. Isn’t it worth the sacrifice to make sure there are no empty seats around the holiday table in years to come?
Even in the middle of a global pandemic, our holiday celebrations can still be special – and safe! With only a few modifications to traditional holiday activities and a bit of planning, you’ll be on your way to enjoying family time without risking your health or your family’s safety. Just follow these three simple Safe Holiday Tips, courtesy of the CDC COVID-19 Holiday Celebrations guidelines.
Safe Holiday Tip #1: Know the Risks
Every state, county, and city has its own rules and regulations in place to protect the public during the pandemic. No matter where you live or what celebrations you’re planning, make sure to compare everything you do against the public safety guidelines in your area.
Additionally, it’s important to understand the risk factors involved in a gathering or celebration this year. Some of these risk factors include:
Before hosting or attending any holiday parties, you should consider the locations involved. High numbers of COVID-19 cases in the location of the gathering, or in the home locations of any attendees, can greatly increase the risk of infection for anyone who joins the celebration.
Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, and gas stations are all hot-spots for viral infection. The circulated air and frequently-visited surfaces in these places make it easy to catch a potentially deadly infection. So, carefully consider whether a planned holiday activity will require you or others to travel.
Longer gatherings increase the risk of infection, while shorter gatherings decrease that risk. Being within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a cumulative of 15 minutes is considered close contact.
The more people that attend a gathering, the more likely it is that infection will spread. This year, small holiday celebrations are the safest choice.
The way your family, friends, or any other attendees behave both before and during a planned holiday celebration makes a difference. For example, do you have a family member or friend who at times neglects to follow preventative measures like regular hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing? That person poses a much greater risk to others than someone who consistently adheres to safety recommendations.
At the same time, it’s important to continue using those same preventative measures during any social gatherings. If there will be alcohol served at the holiday celebration, carefully consider whether that may impair someone’s judgment and cause them to engage in risky behavior.
Safe Holiday Tip #2: Host or Attend Gatherings Carefully
Have you been invited to an in-person holiday celebration this year? Or, are you considering hosting one? If so, please keep the following considerations in mind.
Who Should Not Attend
If you or anyone in your household meets the following criteria, you should not attend any gatherings in person:
- After having been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Are currently showing symptoms of COVID-19
- Awaiting COVID-19 test results
- Were exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Any medical condition that puts you at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
Safe Holiday Gathering Tips
If you choose to attend or host a holiday gathering in person, following these recommendations will lower your risk of infection:
- Avoid direct physical contact with anyone outside of your household.
- Follow social distancing guidelines by staying six feet apart from anyone outside of your household.
- Avoid poorly ventilated indoor gatherings, favoring outside celebrations.
- Wear a mask. Store it in a dry, breathable bag while eating or drinking to keep it clean.
- Wash your hands often, and provide a designated hand-washing area for others.
- Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for others.
- Clean and disinfect common surfaces.
- Use no-touch garbage cans.
Safe Holiday Tip #3: Consider Lower-Risk Alternatives
If you decide that it’s too risky for you to attend or host a holiday gathering in person, don’t despair! There are plenty of fun, memorable, and safe activities you can plan instead.
Instead of an in-person celebration, try one of these lower-risk alternatives:
- Have a small holiday dinner with only those in your household.
- Prepare traditional recipes for family, friends, and neighbors, and deliver them in a no-contact way.
- Host a virtual dinner using video chat technology.
- Have a virtual movie night using video chat technology.
- Organize a virtual recipe-sharing event using video chat technology.
- Throw a virtual holiday craft night using video chat technology.
- Shop online Black Friday sales.
- Watch sports events, movies, and parades at home.
- Take the people in your household for a walk to see holiday decorations in your neighborhood.
It’s only natural to be a little sad and nostalgic for the traditional holiday celebrations we love. When choosing how to celebrate the holidays this year, though, please remember that the most important thing is the safety of you and your loved ones. By taking the right precautions and making wise decisions, all of you can continue to enjoy the holidays for many years to come.
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