The coronavirus is sticking around like a relative who has desperately overstayed his welcome at your Christmas gathering. But it’s not as easy as simply telling him to put down his spiked eggnog and handing him his jacket at the front door. Which is exactly why the 2020 holiday season, unfortunately, won’t exactly be as merry and bright as usual. In fact, whether we like it or not, it’s going to take some creative planning.
Comfort and Joy
While the holidays are a time to gather and celebrate, a comfort zone of safety will need to be on the guest list as well. Because it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s going to require a change in traditions to spread the holiday cheer instead of the symptoms of COVID. What will the view of Christmas 2020 be for you and your family? Here is some advice from the CDC:
- Virtual reality. Meeting extended family and friends virtually is the lowest risk of spread, but it’s also the most upsetting for many of us to face as a possibility for the holidays. Before you decide to gather ’round in person or via video format, it’s always important to check the cases and spread within your community and the location from where relatives may be traveling from (higher risk) before deciding on how to best host.
- Naughty or nice. Not that this is necessarily how you want to categorize your familial guest list, but it works for Santa. In all seriousness, it’s important to consider health factors and health risks before family members step foot into your home and pull up a chair at the holiday table. Have they been practicing social distancing prior to your gathering, i.e., wearing a mask, staying six feet apart? What kind of traveling have they done—long-distance and around town? Guests definitely should not attend if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms, have been exposed to someone diagnosed in the last 14 days, are awaiting test results, or are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Home for the Holidays. If you’ve decided to host extended family and friends for a holiday gathering at your home, it’s the safest bet to consider a few guidelines: choose an outdoor location or one with good ventilation inside (open windows, doors) if feasible rather than completely enclosed; choose to keep your party short and sweet, as a longer amount of time poses more risk; limit the number of guests (from your local area) to allow for social distancing as much as possible; wear masks (or have extra masks on-hand if needed); encourage hand washing and sanitizing; clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces; use touchless garbage cans if possible (and use gloves when taking out the garbage bag); have one person (wearing a mask) serve the food, salad dressings and condiments if you’ve laid out a buffet line to avoid multiple hands on the serving utensils; and avoid self-serve drink stations.
Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of your last guest closing the door behind him. Which means, if you’re the host, it’s time to disinfect after your event and wash any item in the house that is reusable, i.e., seat covers, tablecloths, linen napkins and more. It also may be a good idea for you and guests to take extra precautions by getting tested for COVID-19 and staying home as much as possible for the next 14 days. After all, by then it will be 2021! Happy New Year!