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Celebrating the holidays safely

November 22, 2021 | Safety | Mental Health | Healthy You

During holidays, family waves to loved ones in a virtual gathering

As you plan for fall and winter celebrations, stay safe by avoiding high-risk activities. Here are a few tips.

While the vaccines have helped somewhat, the pandemic will continue to have an impact on how Americans celebrate the holiday season.

As you plan for year-end celebrations, PeaceHealth urges everyone to continue to stay safe by avoiding high-risk activities, including traveling and attending social gatherings outside of your household.

“Indoor gatherings with people and family you don’t normally associate with put everyone at high risk for contracting COVID-19,” said Catherine Kroll, PeaceHealth’s director of infection prevention. "The safest holiday celebrations are those that include only the people you are normally around, such as your immediate family.”

Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can do things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

Consider hosting virtual events or activities. Some ideas include:

  • Hosting an online gathering using FaceTime, Zoom or other technology platforms. Do a rehearsal beforehand with guests to work through any technology issues.
  • Choose a favorite family recipe or create a new recipe tradition and follow along via FaceTime or Zoom.
  • Create an online album for sharing holiday photos and videos with friends and family.
  • Plan activities for your online gathering. Some ideas include a scavenger hunt, dance competition or stream a holiday movie together.

Evaluate the risks 

Always follow masking, hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines at gatherings. Other precautions include:

  • Hosting or attending outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible.
  • Limiting the number of attendees as much as possible.
  • Consider strictly avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before a gathering – or asking all guests to do so – to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

Read more guidance from the CDC on holiday celebrations and small gatherings.

Holiday travel

Traveling increases the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. Please use the information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:

After the celebration

If you participate in higher-risk activities or think that you may have been exposed, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid being around people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19 if you’re experiencing symptoms or have concerns about an active infection. 

If you start experiencing fever, respiratory infection symptoms (e.g. cough) or other symptoms, please call your healthcare provider’s office before arriving or scheduling an appointment to determine the appropriate care setting and testing process. Your visit may be eligible for a video visit.

Call 911 if you have emergency signs such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

If you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results, please stay home until you have a result, and follow CDC’s guidance to help stop the spread of COVID-19.