How to Safely Host Holiday Gatherings During COVID-19
The end of the year is always filled with family gatherings and festive parties to celebrate all that the season has to offer. Whether it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve or just a good-old family reunion, celebrations might look a little different this year.
The good news is you can still be the “hostess with the mostest” with just a few tweaks to your usual plans. While the safest option is to keep gatherings to a minimum and limit the guests to immediate family or small groups, below are some things to keep in mind and some ways to celebrate the holidays safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Remind guests to stay home if they are sick. If anyone on the guest list has been exposed to COVID-19 or shown symptoms in the previous 14 days, it’s best for them to sit this one out. Even if all guests are in the clear, you should also encourage guests who are elderly or who have preexisting health conditions to consider the risks before checking “yes” on the RSVP.
- Party: social distance style. If possible, consider hosting your event outdoors or in a space that is well-ventilated. If your event must be indoors, try to maintain 6 feet between family groups. It will probably feel like habit to go in for a hug or handshake when your guests arrive but try to remember to greet them in other ways like a wave or verbal welcome.
- Wear masks. By now, we all know that wearing masks helps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Make mask-wearing a requirement for your guests. You can even make it fun by asking them to wear their favorite themed mask for the occasion.
- Provide ample opportunities for hand hygiene. Consider providing hand sanitizer stations throughout your event and encourage everyone to use them (or wash their hands in the bathroom) regularly.
- Limit the handling or serving of food. If serving food, designate one person to serve all the food to your guests so that multiple people aren’t handling the same serving utensils. It’s also good to opt for single-use options, like throw-away dishware, utensils and even proportioned packs of condiments and salad dressings.
- Avoid high-touch surfaces and items. Regularly disinfect surfaces that multiple people touch, including doorknobs, light switches, garbage can lids and countertops.
Ideas worth celebrating:
- Mask decorating. As mentioned above, you could encourage guests to wear their best themed mask to your gathering and put it to a vote to determine the most festive. For those who don’t have a festive mask (or for those who can never have too many) have a station for decorating a mask complete with glitter, stickers, pompoms and markers. Consider this the new version of decorating pumpkins or gingerbread houses … but with masks!
- Say cheese. Holidays are all about reconnecting with family and friends. Encourage your guests to send pictures from holidays past and create a slideshow to play throughout your event. This is a no-contact way to get everyone in on the fun and relive fun memories.
- Feed your soul. OK, we lied. Holidays aren’t just about family and friends … they’re also about the food! Have each guest prepare their own dish for everyone to try. This takes pressure off the host and allows everyone to put their best dish forward. As mentioned above, though, make sure to have one person in charge of serving to control the spread of germs.
- There’s always technology. Sadly, this year, it’s possible that not everyone will be able to celebrate together. However, there are multiple ways to make them feel included from afar. Allow your loved ones to feel the love with programs like Zoom or FaceTime.
Getting well and staying well:
Of course, the goal is to stay healthy all season long. However, if you or a loved one do get sick this season, know that you have options to receive safe and prompt care.
- Urgent care: Get quick, convenient care mornings, evenings and weekends at an urgent care near you.
- Virtual visits: Access 24/7 urgent care with Ochsner Anywhere Care virtual visits or see your provider online using MyOchsner.
- Primary care: Keep your healthcare on track with annual screenings. We have hundreds of providers across the region. Find one close to you and schedule online.