When we think of typical holiday gatherings, we picture our friends and loved ones laughing together around the dining room table or otherwise spending quality time in cozy indoor settings during the coldest times of the year. Unfortunately, almost all of our typical behaviors and social practices have become inappropriate in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The usual holiday staples of spending long hours in close quarters, while sharing meals and laughs with our loved ones, involve the exact types of behaviors that can put our families at the most risk for the spread of the novel coronavirus. Because holiday gatherings often include older family members and those with health issues, it is especially important to take every possible step to keep our families safe and healthy this season.
Regardless of which holiday(s) you celebrate, there are a number of factors to consider when determining how to keep your friends and family safe while celebrating this holiday season.
Celebrate Together Virtually
Because the novel coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets that infected people breathe out through the mouth and nose, sharing unventilated indoor air with others is what causes the vast majority of infections. Therefore, the safest method is to hold a holiday celebration virtually.
Video chat services, like Zoom and Skype, offer families a way to spend time together around the holidays without sharing a physical space. Virtual celebrations allow families to see, hear, and share quality time with each other without putting anyone at risk. Some fun virtual holiday activities include the following:
- Playing party games together (Charades, 20 Questions, Two Truths and a Lie, etc.)
- Teaching each other delicious cookie or other dessert recipes and making them simultaneously
- Watching movies or shows together (try apps like Netflix Party, MyCircleTV, or Scener)
- Eating a delicious holiday dinner simultaneously, in the way that you would if you were physically together
- Having each person attending share something for which they are thankful
Attending or Hosting an In-person Holiday Gathering
For those families who do decide to hold an in-person holiday gathering, there are a number of best practices to follow in order to lower the risks for family members as much as possible.
- Check Infection Rates in Your Area – Keep a close eye on the COVID-19 positivity rates in your area and the areas of all potential attendees. If positivity rates are high or increasing, put the safety of loved ones first by reducing the size of the gathering or holding the gathering virtually.
- Small Gatherings – Keeping the guest list as small as possible is imperative in order to minimize the risk of spreading infections. When determining the number of people attending, follow the guidance of local public health officials.
- Honest Conversations about Safety Measures – Have open, honest, and candid conversations about the safety measures being practiced by everyone who plans to attend the gathering. In order to minimize the risk for your family, all attendees should self-quarantine for two weeks and receive a negative COVID test before the holiday gathering. If anyone is feeling unwell or has been in contact with anyone feeling unwell, they should not attend.
- Follow Safety Measures When Together – Those attending the gathering should follow all recommended CDC guidelines, such as maintaining 6 feet of distance at all times, wearing masks when not eating, opening windows for ventilation, and washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds at a time. Also, using disposable plates, flatware, and hand towels will decrease the risk of infection for you and your family.