|Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels |
Between now and January, there will be over 200 worldwide festivities, which will be different this time because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the swell of COVID-19 infections in some locales.
We may not be able to observe our favorite festivals the same way as we did in the past, but we can get creative and begin new methods of rejoicing by following these safety tips:
· If you plan to attend a holiday party outside your local community, check the percentage of positive tests in the area you are visiting to evaluate the risk of infection. If the percentage is high, you may want to rethink going to the party. (A higher percent positive may mean more people in these areas are infected but who have not been tested yet.)
· Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has recommended gatherings be limited to small numbers, and this continues to be the case for holiday gatherings. This is true when attendees are not able to-socially distance; there is a high level of contact among attendees, and people do not wear masks. However, If there is ample room to socially distance, contact is limited, and everyone wears a mask, these steps help reduce the risk of infection or spread.
· Although not every COVID holiday party can be held outside, the CDC continues to recommend outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings because the ventilation is better. To warm up outdoor settings, use fire pits, chimneys, or space heaters. However, if you plan to host or attend an indoor holiday gathering, look for ways to increase ventilation, such as opening windows and doors to improve airflow. Also, limit the number of attendees to avoid crowded rooms that could turn hot and stuffy. That type of environment concentrates airborne particles generated from tiny respiratory droplets. If someone is infected with COVID, the indoor air can become contaminated with the virus and inhaled by others.
· Following the CDC’s recommendations for social distancing and wearing masks can help reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection and spread among attendees at holiday gatherings. Although it will not be as cozy as previous holiday celebrations, the goal is to protect everyone at the party while still having a good time. To encourage everyone to wear a mask and have fun, hold an “Ugly Christmas Mask” contest along with or instead of an “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest.
· Set out pump-top bottles of hand sanitizer for all attendees to use frequently, and encourage them to wash their hands often if possible. Provide disinfectant wipes so partygoers can wipe down door handles, utensils, countertops, and other high-touch surfaces to help stop the spread of germs. Set a good example by using these items yourself throughout the party, and encourage others to do the same. Normalize this behavior so everyone feels comfortable.
· Potlucks and buffets are very popular during holiday gatherings but should be avoided at any holiday party this year. If you plan to serve food, choose one person to serve the food, and prepare drinks to limit how many people are touching utensils, beverage containers, and glasses. Consider single-serve or grab-and-go options instead, such as mugs of chili, individual bags of chips or crackers, single-use containers of dip, individual fruit cups, individually wrapped desserts, and bottled beverages. Another option is to ask guests to bring their own food and drinks.
· During COVID, holiday travel continues to incur a high risk of exposure as you encounter more people outside your home or local community. As much as possible, socially distance from others outside your traveling party, and wear a mask while in public. Whenever possible, wash your hands using soap and water, and bring hand sanitizer for the times you cannot wash your hands. Also, do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you can wash or sanitize your hands before and after doing so.
· While it will not, be the same having everyone, you love at your holiday gatherings, it is imperative for those people who are at high risk for COVID to stay home. This includes anyone at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or who may be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, difficulty breathing, or loss of taste or smell. Others who should not attend include anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last two weeks, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or is still recovering from COVID-19.
· Just because you host every year, or you brought everyone’s favorite dish last year, does not mean you have to do the same this year. Everyone’s comfort levels maybe different, but there are many other ways to feel connected by opting to go viral.
· If you are staying home, set the mood by decorating the table with your best tableware or try your hand at a family recipe.
The little things are what make this time of year feel so special, no matter where you are.