After a year of isolation, the longing for gathering and celebration is more than understandable. It can be especially tempting if you were one of those people who remained in lockdown for the majority of the year, responsibly abstaining and avoiding going out to house parties or clubs: after all this time, all you want is to be around your family and loved ones.

And you can be—just with precaution

The safest option, per the CDC, is to have a virtual gathering. Anyone who lives outside of your household is at risk of bringing the virus into your home or getting it from you, so it’s safest to be with the people you’re already around every day. A Zoom holiday party doesn’t have to be strange or boring. Think about the holidays spent in a house filled with people—there’s loud talking, people bustling around a kitchen, having to deal with a long or tiresome travel commute (searching for parking!) just to be with their families, giving others a ride home, being close with people you haven’t seen in a while, etc. 

But for a virtual holiday gathering, you can enjoy the presence of those you love most while not having to physically share space with family members you maybe don’t particularly love being around. You can also start the gathering early and have your laptop in the kitchen while you cook and watch others cook. If gifts are involved, doing a gathering over Zoom still allows you to see your loved ones’ faces beam with joy when they open up the gifts you got them. You can also do all of this from the comfort of your pajamas, and you can opt out at any moment you want—whenever you start feeling like you’re ready to go home, you’ll realize you already are home, and the only thing standing between you and relaxation is a red “Leave” button. 

If you are having a gathering where people from outside of your household will physically be joining, like college students coming home, make sure that you and everyone else gets tested. Ideally, the people outside of your household would quarantine for two weeks ahead of the gathering while waiting for their test results. 

For physical gatherings, try to recommend that people wear masks. Get details on people’s travel processes—implore everyone to be careful on airplanes, buses, or trains and to take special precautions while traveling. Have hand washing stations ready. The specific number of people at your gathering should depend on how many people are already in your household and how many more people you’re comfortable with adding to that number.

However many it is, consider the fact that staying six feet apart will greatly reduce your chances of catching the virus. If more than five people can’t move through your house six feet apart from each other, then maybe that should be the limit of attendees. If anyone is awaiting test results, is at increased risk for COVID-19 (an older person or someone with pre-existing medical conditions), or has been exposed to COVID-19, they probably shouldn’t be in attendance and can join virtually instead. 

There are ways to make socially-distanced in-person gatherings fun. They might feel different, but you can enjoy them the same. Games like Charades don’t require any touching. Watch a movie together and add in a drinking game to make things exciting. Build gingerbread houses together. Maybe don’t play games like cards or dominoes, which require everyone to be handsy. Find creative ways to stay apart from each other while still coming together. 

Overall, being responsible is a priority. We want to move into 2021 without ushering in a major wave of COVID-19 cases, and this means sacrificing some normal holiday proceedings for the sake of returning to normalcy sooner than later. 

How are you and your family staying safe this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

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