The decision to attend or forgo traditional holiday gatherings is deeply personal. Public health experts agree that the most prudent way to celebrate this year’s winter holidays is at home with the people who live with you. CDC continues to recommend that all Americans (not just older adults at higher risk for severe COVID-19) postpone travel and stay home except for absolutely essential purposes.
It is okay to say “no.” During this most unprecedented year, to decline an invitation is indeed a gift to the host, whether is it appreciated or not. Choosing to stay home helps to protect your health. Choosing to stay home helps to protect your loved ones’ health. Choosing to stay home can mean the difference between wellness and illness, life and death, and allows the avoidance of tremendous destruction, loss, and grief. Be creative and celebrate your beloved winter holiday differently this year!
Here are some ideas:
■ Host or join a virtual celebration with friends and family. Schedule a time to eat a meal together virtually.
■ Spice up your virtual holiday celebration with themes or activities. Hop on the phone with a friend and bake cookies apart-together while you chat and catch up. Schedule a time to meet virtually with loved ones to open gifts together. Use video chatting to teach your grandchildren a family holiday recipe. Get inspired. The possibilities are endless.
■ It’s not too late to decorate! This holiday season should be special, even though it must be different than usual. Let your home reflect a joyous holiday spirit.
■ Drive through a local holiday light display.
■ Spread the love. Send holiday crafts, cards, or cookies to family and friends or leave them at your neighbors’ doorsteps for contact-free, safe delivery.
■ Attend virtual religious services for safe fellowship and worship.
Should you choose to disregard public health advice to stay home this holiday season, please strongly consider employing the below strategies to minimize your risk for transmitting COVID- 19 to those you love or from contracting the disease yourself:
■ Know your risk. We tend to feel safest when in the company of those people whom we most love and trust. This fact underlies the tragedy of familial transmission of COVID-19, a disease that spreads just as readily in small groups of friends and loved ones as it does at mass gatherings of strangers. People can be contagious with COVID-19 despite looking and feeling entirely well. People can be contagious with COVID-19 even though they’ve been attentive to mitigation measures and have made safer choices in an attempt to avoid exposure to the disease.
■ Wear a mask. Wear a mask any time you leave your home and any time you are within 6 feet of a person who does not live in your household, whether you are indoors or outdoors. The mask should fit snuggly, securely covering your nose and mouth even when you are speaking or bending over.
■ Maintain distance. Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you. If you must remove your mask in the presence of others (yikes!), double your distance to 12 feet (or even more in indoor, poorly ventilated spaces).
, Stay outdoors. Avoid gathering with others in indoor spaces. If you must, open windows and doors to improve ventilation.
, Wash your hands. Clean your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds whenever it is available and certainly after being in a public place; after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose; and before eating. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your face.