November 12, 2020

Celebrate safely at home this holiday season

Spread cheer and share moments while staying healthy and safe at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is real, poses a dangerous risk, and continues to spread throughout the country. Kaiser Permanente’s infectious disease experts and clinicians agree that staying home for the holidays — not traveling and not gathering — is the best way to protect yourself and those you love.

While staying apart this holiday season is the safe choice, it’s also a tough choice, and experts say it’s crucial to recognize the emotional and psychological impact of that decision.

“The notion of canceling or missing traditional holiday festivities with loved ones is leaving many feeling sad,” according to Hillary Van Horn-Gatlin, PhD, a psychologist at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. “People are mourning the loss of their important traditions, on top of all they have missed since March.”

Changing holiday plans

If you’re following clinical guidance and choosing to stay home this year, it’s better to break the news early. Having a conversation with your family and loved ones sooner rather than later may help reduce your anxiety and manage others’ expectations.

“Start the conversation with honesty and vulnerability,” said Van Horn-Gatlin. “It may be as simple as saying, ‘I love you, but I have a lot of concern about the holidays this year.’ Emphasize that it was a hard decision to make, but the priority is keeping everyone safe.”

Then, invite your family and friends to brainstorm some creative and different ways to be emotionally close while staying apart.

If you still decide to host or attend an in-person celebration, Kaiser Permanente recommends that you follow the Centers for Disease Control’s considerations to reduce your risk of exposure, for example:

  • Host or attend outdoor activities rather than indoor activities as much as possible. Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, or fully enclosed indoor spaces.
  • Limit the numbers of attendees as much as possible.
  • Ask all attendees outside of your household to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
  • Ask attendees to bring their own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.

To further protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19, always remember to:

  • Know you’re healthy before you go. Do not plan to gather if you are sick or with someone who is sick, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
  • Wear a protective mask. Cover your nose and mouth when in public settings.
  • Watch your distance. Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Using soap and water, wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. And avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.

“Even during times of uncertainty, it’s important to remain hopeful,” said Van Horn-Gatlin. “We can encourage ourselves and those around us to control what we can and get creative to remain joyful through the holiday season and the rest of this year.”

Get the facts about the coronavirus and resources to keep yourself and your community healthy and strong during this pandemic. Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19.