Five Ways to Stay Safe During Holiday Gatherings

            It is that time of year again, the wonderful holiday season. Many people are excited and joyful. The holidays also bring a lot of stress due to buying gifts and fitting all the holiday activities into our already busy schedules. This year brings on a whole new stressor, how to avoid getting COVID but still enjoying the holidays. There is no foolproof way to avoid getting COVID unless you stay completely isolated but there are ways that you can enjoy your holiday gatherings and try to avoid COVID.

  1. Get Vaccinated and Boosted

            One of the best ways to prevent yourself from getting and spreading COVID is to get vaccinated. If you have already gotten vaccinated and did not have an anaphylactic reaction or complications, get your booster shot. Be aware that there are breakthrough cases of COVID with some fully vaccinated people, especially since we are seeing more variants but being vaccinated will give you the best protection. There are several pharmacies, urgent cares, and vaccine clinics administering vaccines.

If you are hosting a gathering you could state on your invitation that guests must be vaccinated. This is becoming a common practice, especially with the new Omicron variant which has been highly contagious. You may feel guilty excluding the unvaccinated but it is better to feel that guilt instead of the guilt of your loved ones catching COVID at your holiday gathering.

  1. Continue to wear a mask and Wash Your Hands and Social Distance

            Everyone is tired of wearing masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene but you must continue these practices. We are still in a pandemic and it is important to protect not only yourself but others. If you are holding a gathering you can state on the invitation that masks are required when not eating or drinking. You could have some fun with it and host an ugly mask party instead of an ugly sweater party.

            When preparing for your event make sure to have hand sanitizer and soap readily available. You could buy festive soaps and cute signs to encourage people to wash their hands. When setting up make sure you spread your seating areas out so people can still practice social distancing. Consider opening windows to keep your area well ventilated.

  1. Avoid Crowds, Practice Caution, and Keep it Intimate

            When attending other’s holiday events, practice caution. If you know that it is going to be a large event consider not going and instead just send a gift. If you are not feeling well for any reason do not go to an event. It is better to practice caution and be safe rather than sorry. Even just the beginning of a runny nose is enough of a reason to skip an event. Avoid large holiday gatherings such as concerts and plays. Many of these types of events are being canceled due to COVID numbers rising. When planning your own holiday gathering, keep the guest list short. Plan on having an intimate event with only your closest friends and family. 

  1. Make New Outdoor Holiday Traditions

            There are plenty of new holiday traditions that you can start that are outdoors. Having an event outdoors will provide better ventilation and lessen the chance of people contracting the virus. You could plan your own personal tree lighting ceremony in your backyard, a bonfire gathering, a holiday stroll to find the best Christmas lights in the neighborhood, or holiday relay races and outdoor games. The possibilities are endless and you can have a lot of fun creating a new holiday tradition.

  1. Get Tested and Ask Others to Get Tested

            Getting tested and asking all your guests to get tested before your holiday gathering is a reasonable request. There are so many places to get tested now and there are at-home test kits that can be purchased from the drug store. You could include this request on your invitations. This will help everyone at your event feel more at ease.

            In conclusion, there is no foolproof plan that will 100% prevent COVID unless you and the members of your household decide to stay isolated for the holiday season but there are methods to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the virus. If you do decide to skip holiday gatherings do not feel guilty. You are doing it for your own health and the health of your loved ones. If you decide to continue with your holiday gatherings please use the tips stated above to help you and your loved ones stay happy and healthy.