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

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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.

As more people get vaccinated, gatherings become safer. But not all children are vaccinated, and some people with weak immune systems or medical conditions might still get sick even after being vaccinated. So we still need to take precautions.

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 still 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.

Safe Ways to Host and Attend Gatherings

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 are indoors, open windows to increase ventilation.
  • Unvaccinated people and those at higher risk of getting sick with COVID-19 (such as those with weak immune systems or with some types of medical conditions) should wear a mask if over age 2, except when eating and drinking. In areas with many COVID-19 infections, everyone over age 2 should wear a mask when indoors or in crowded outdoor settings, even if they're fully vaccinated.
  • 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.

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.
Date reviewed: October 2021