As much as we’d like coronavirus to disappear by the holidays, it won’t. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still celebrate. According to the CDC and other health experts, the holidays don’t need to be cancelled this year, as long as you follow some simple safety tips like the ones we’ve rounded up here.

Check local regulations

First thing’s first. If you plan on hosting a holiday celebration, we strongly encourage you to check your local COVID-19 regulations to determine whether it’s safe (and legal) to have any type of gathering. Whether you’re planning on a small family gathering at home, or a larger socially-distanced event in an outdoor space, it’s good to know your local mandates to plan responsibly.

Holiday treats (Because really, it’s all about the food, right?)

When we think of holiday celebrations, we think of all the yummy food, drink and treats that come with it. Here are a few ideas to help ensure everyone stays safe.

  • Wear a mask and wash hands often while preparing food for others who don’t live in your household.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and/or for members of their own household only.
  • Avoid self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations.
  • Use individually wrapped or grab-and-go meal options if possible. Do the same for utensils, condiments, drinks, etc.

How to host a holiday party during the pandemic

If you host a holiday party, it’s best to keep it small, simple, and safe. Here are a few tips:

  • Here in California, we might still have the option of hosting a party outside. But if weather forces you inside, choose a location that is well ventilated and with plenty of room for social distancing.
  • Limit your invitations to people from your local area as much as possible, such as close family and friends that you are already in contact with.
  • Keep the guest list as small as possible. Do not invite anyone who can be considered high risk (elderly or with pre-existing health conditions) or with high-risk exposure (such as ER or hospital staff).
  • Communicate with the people you’re inviting well ahead of time with details about the event, who else will be attending, and safety precautions you’ll be using.
  • If possible, designate one person to take people’s temperatures at the door using a simple non-touch scanning device (easily found online or at your local drugstore).
  • Set up a festive greeting station that includes masks, sanitizing wipes, tissues, etc. and have hand sanitizers set up within easy reach throughout the space where people will gather.

Spread cheer no matter what

The holidays should be a time for celebration and cheer, but due to the pandemic, many people will be forced to be alone, quarantined or unable to attend the usual outings that make this season so special. There are still a lot of ways to let people know they are loved, appreciated and in our thoughts this season while staying safe, such as:

  • If you are hosting a part and must turn someone away (due to a high temperature reading, etc.), have small gift baskets ready to go to help them feel better about missing the fun.
  • If you’re unable to invite friends or loved ones to a small gathering due to high-risk issues, make sure to keep them involved with a special video call, gift basket, flowers, etc.
  • Host fun “virtual” parties such as family scavenger hunts, decorating contests, cooking video challenges, family video dance-offs, and more – all done through video calls, online chats, or even fun YouTube videos that can be watched over and over.