Celebrating Safely in 2020: Holiday Guidelines from the CDC

Our family will be spending Thanksgiving at home, but I wanted to share some holiday guidelines from the CDC. Maybe this will be helpful to anyone still on the fence about their holiday plans for this year! All of this advice – and more – can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html.

The Stress of Disappointing Family

The CDC also has a nice page on coping with holiday stress.  They remind people that, “Being away from family and friends during the holidays can be hard. When you talk with your friends and family about plans, it’s okay if you decide to stay home and remain apart from others.”

If you’ve declined an invitation to a family gathering, Let people know this is a way to show your love for them–even if they don’t agree with your decision. You could send your loved ones a gift to remind them how much you love them. And to schedule a time to meet virtually. Perhaps playing a game of charades via Zoom, etc.

Holiday Guidelines from the CDC – Gathering Together?

At the top of their page, the CDC reminds people that with the spike in COVID cases, the safest way to celebrate is to stay home with your immediate family. And also that people should check and abide by local and regional guidelines when making holiday plans.

If you are still hosting or attending a gathering, there are ways to reduce the chance of COVID-19 exposure and spread. For example:

  • Try to gather outdoors if possible. If not possible, make sure everyone inside the home will be able to maintain social distancing the whole time.
  • Attendees should wear masks when not eating, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Encourage guests to bring extra masks, hand sanitizer, etc.
  •  Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces often

It would be nice to believe that those guidelines are pretty obvious, but who knows. Some additional guidelines that I may not have thought of include:

  • “Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people outside the household.” (Sad, I know!)
  • Increase ventilation if meeting inside as much as possible. If your home is poorly ventilated, try to open doors or windows. Put your central heat or air on continuous circulation.
  • Keep music levels down so guests don’t have to speak loudly to hear one another. Discourage singing and shouting.
  • Encourage everyone attending the gathering to avoid contact with people outside of their household for 14 days prior to the gathering. (Sorry I am posting this less than 14 days before Thanksgiving – but now you know for December!)

Find additional guidelines here. The CDC also has a whole section of guidelines for eating and drinking during a pandemic gathering, which can be found on the same page. As well as specific guidelines for overnight stays and travel.

NPR also had a couple of interesting segments on college students traveling home for the holidays (here and here). In one, they recommended gathering for a game rather than a meal. This way, you can keep your masks on the whole time.

If Exposed to COVID

If, despite your precautions, you are exposed to COVID during a holiday gathering, make sure to tell everyone at the gathering immediately. Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with the person with COVID-19. Even if you get a COVID test and it comes back negative, you still need to quarantine yourself for 14 days, as symptoms can take that long to show up.

Alternate Ways to Celebrate

Some creative and less risky ways to celebrate Thanksgiving include:

  • No-contact food delivery for friends or family on Thanksgiving
  • Hosting a virtual dinner party
  • Zoom game night
  • Virtual cookie decorating/baking session
  • Virtual movie night
  • Zoom crafting party

And just in case you haven’t heard, Zoom is dropping its 40-minute limit over Thanksgiving. So you can spend as much time chatting with family virtually as you want! Up to 30 hours or something. That should be enough