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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Enjoying Holidays, Celebrations, and Gatherings Safely

Holidays and other gatherings have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic started. It's been stressful for everyone, adults and children alike. So it's important to keep celebrating and getting together in creative ways. Special celebration times can help ease "pandemic fatigue" by reconnecting safely with family and friends.

Here are some ways to enjoy holidays and gatherings while keeping the people you care about safe and happy.

Keep the Celebrations Small or Virtual

The safest option for now is to celebrate holidays and other special events only with members of your own household. To connect with friends and loved ones you can't see in person, host virtual events. You can chat while eating, play games, "see" each other's holiday decorations, or share recipes. Weddings, funerals, graduations, and other major milestones can be shared virtually, letting lots of people join from near and far.

Tips for Hosting and Attending Gatherings Safely

Some families may choose to gather with people they don't live with. This is more of a risk than gathering virtually or with people from your own household. If you decide to host or attend a gathering, follow the CDC's advice:

  • Get together outdoors, if possible.
  • If you must be indoors, open windows to increase ventilation.
  • Everyone 2 years and older should wear a mask except when eating and drinking.
  • Limit the number of guests so that people from different households can stay at least 6 feet apart. Set up chairs or tables in advance so people know where to safely be.
  • Keep the visit brief. You might consider getting together just for dessert or not eating or drinking at all.
  • Have people bring their own food and drinks to limit touching the same surfaces. If you do share food, have one person serve the food (while wearing a mask) so only one person touches the serving spoon. Consider putting the food on plates in advance. Then have people take a plate one at a time while keeping physically distant.

Health experts say it's safe for fully vaccinated people to be indoors with other fully vaccinated people, even without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. It's also safe for fully vaccinated people to be unmasked and close to unvaccinated members of another household if the unvaccinated people aren't at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. So, as more and more people are fully vaccinated, gatherings will get safer for everyone.

Get Creative!

Holidays and other celebrations may feel different during the pandemic. But you can still make them fun and memorable for your kids:

  • Make an event of watching sports, parades, and movies from the comfort of your own home. Set up an indoor cozy space with pillows and blankets and snacks. If it's warm enough, enjoy the entertainment from your yard.
  • Make gifts. Get crafty and have kids write letters to each other and loved ones, create coupon books, and more. They can make their own wrapping paper. Older children and teens can have fun with tie-dye, inviting friends to virtually create with them.
  • Travel to an imaginary vacation spot in your home. Come up with theme rooms, special foods, and fun activities that you would traditionally do at your favorite vacation spot.
  • Work together on holiday greetings or invitations. Whether you buy cards or make your own, kids will enjoy being involved and getting them ready to mail.
  • Make video holiday greetings and invitations, and involve kids in the creative process, from writing a script, to filming, to emailing.
  • Play games. Teach your kids the board games you played when you were a kid or have a virtual game night with friends or your family.
  • Decorate. It can brighten spirits, giving your whole family a change of space.
  • Spread kindness to your community. Kids can make signs with messages for neighbors that you can hang in the windows or post in your yard.
  • Make a game of going through your house to find items to donate in honor of whatever your family is celebrating. Look for clothes, food, and household goods that you don't use that are in good condition.
  • Read holiday books together with the whole family.

Safety Steps to Take

To help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Wash hands well and often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid people who look sick.
  • Clean surfaces that get touched a lot (like doorknobs, counters, phones, etc.).
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Get a flu vaccine each year (everyone who is 6 months of age and older).
  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you're eligible.
Reviewed by: Salwa E. Sulieman, DO and Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: April 2021