How to Safely Host Holiday Gatherings During COVID-19 and Flu Season

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By Katherine Baumgarten, MD

The end of the year is always filled with family gatherings and festive parties to celebrate all that the season has to offer. Whether it’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve or just a good-old family reunion, celebrations might look a little different this year.


The good news is you can still be the “hostess with the mostest” with just a few tweaks to your usual plans. While the safest option is to keep gatherings to a minimum and limit the guests to immediate family or small groups, below are some things to keep in mind and some ways to celebrate the holidays safely during COVID-19 and flu season.

Make safety the priority:

  1. Remind guests to stay home if they are sick. If anyone on the guest list has been exposed to COVID-19 or shown symptoms in the previous 14 days, it’s best for them to sit this one out. Even if all guests are in the clear, you should also encourage guests who are elderly or who have preexisting health conditions to consider the risks before checking “yes” on the RSVP.
  2. Party: social distance style. If possible, consider hosting your event outdoors or in a space that is well-ventilated.
  3. Wear masks. By now, we all know that wearing masks helps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Guests may be more comfortable in wearing a mask. You can even make it fun by asking them to wear their favorite themed mask for the occasion.
  4. Provide ample opportunities for hand hygiene. Consider providing hand sanitizer stations throughout your event and encourage everyone to use them (or wash their hands in the bathroom) regularly.
  5. Avoid high-touch surfaces and items. Regularly disinfect surfaces that multiple people touch, including doorknobs, light switches, garbage can lids and countertops.

Ideas worth celebrating:


  • Say cheese. Holidays are all about reconnecting with family and friends. Encourage your guests to send pictures from holidays past and create a slideshow to play throughout your event. This is a no-contact way to get everyone in on the fun and relive fun memories.
  • Feed your soul. OK, we lied. Holidays aren’t just about family and friends … they’re also about the food! Have each guest prepare their own dish for everyone to try. This takes pressure off the host and allows everyone to put their best dish forward.
  • There’s always technology. It may not be possible that not everyone will be able to celebrate together. However, there are multiple ways to make them feel included from afar. Allow your loved ones to feel the love with programs like Zoom or FaceTime.

Getting well and staying well:

Of course, the goal is to stay healthy all season long. However, if you or a loved one do get sick this season, know that you have options to receive safe and prompt care.