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How to Safely Celebrate the Holidays

An image of a holiday meal with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and vegetables that reads Holiday Safety.

The holidays conjure so many emotions, memories and expectations. The travel to be with loved ones, dinner at Grandma’s house with extended family, turkey with the family favorite stuffing, pumpkin pie and hugs from relatives you may not have seen in months.

But COVID-19 has many wondering what to do for the holidays, and with good reason. The pandemic has proven to be challenging to combat and cases are rising. No one wants to risk the safety of their family and themselves.

So, what are the options for celebrating? We’ve created this list, which includes information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, to help you plan how to safely celebrate the holidays.

The best way to minimize the chances of getting and transmitting the virus is to stay at home and visit virtually with your family and friends. We’re recommending to our residents. Consider:
  • Sharing a meal virtually
    Use a virtual meeting app (e.g. Zoom, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime) and schedule a time to share a meal with family, maybe even connect with those who live long distance and rarely get to see. You could even have multiple celebrations like starting with a virtual happy hour with one group of family or friends and ending with dessert with another group of family or friends. This may actually be a welcome solution for those of you who typically have to pick and choose which family members to spend Thanksgiving with because geographic distances do not permit you to see all of them in one day.
  • Scheduling a watch party
    Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sports game or movies with your family and friends via the phone or virtual meeting app. Each of you can watch TV from the comfort and safety of your home while providing commentary as Snoopy passes by Harald Square, your team scores a touchdown or an unexpected twist in plot is revealed. You could also try Facebook’s watch party.
  • Sharing recipes
    Agree to share favorite recipes among one another in advance of Thanksgiving. Each of you chooses to make one or more from of the favorite recipes received. Then, reveal the recipe(s) each of you has chosen to make as you enjoy the yummy dish(es) in your virtual meal gathering.
  • Delivering food
    Safely prepare traditional dishes and provide them to your family and friends via contactless delivery (e.g. leaving your food delivery on their porch).
  • Expressing gratitude
    Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing about the things you are grateful for and sharing them with your friends and family, whether that be by phone, virtual meeting, email or another way of sharing.
If you decide to have an in-person celebration, it is strongly advised that you:
  • Have a small outdoor meal.
  • Open the windows if you are celebrating indoors.
  • Limit the number of guests.
  • Set expectations for celebrating by having conversations with guests ahead of time.
  • If you have students coming home for the holiday, ask them to get tested before coming home.
  • Wear a mask when you are not eating or drinking.
    Masks should include two or more layers, cover the nose and mouth, secured under the chin and fit snugly against the sides of the face.
  • Choose a Designated Mask Monitor
    It’s natural to feel relaxed around family, but when that happens, COVID precautions typically become more relaxed. Have one guest/family member be the conscience for the group and remind folks to keep them on.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others who do not live with you.
  • Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces and items between use.
  • Have one person serve the food and use single use items like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates and utensils.
  • Have guests bring their own food and drink.
If you have to travel, make sure to:
  • Check travel restrictions before you go.
  • Get your flu shot before you travel.
  • Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
  • Stay at least six feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
  • Frequently wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose and mouth.
And what about Black Friday?

The day after Thanksgiving sales are huge in many households, but they are potentially a huge super spreader opportunity. To minimize your exposure:

  • Shop online.
    Many retailers will be offering sales online. Some are even starting with Black Friday sales early. Plus, there’s always cyber Monday.
  • Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
  • Shop in open air markets staying six feet away from others.

While it is difficult to have such significant changes to traditions, remember that many people are working to insure that the 2021 holiday season is back to normal, as much as possible. We are all in this together!