Holiday gatherings in 2020: Health experts provide tips to safely navigate the holidays during a pandemic |

Holiday gatherings in 2020: Health experts provide tips to safely navigate the holidays during a pandemic

From left, Keira Weston, Reece Weston, Anthony Rucker and Ayla Weston join their grandmother, Stephanie Harvey, pose with wacky holiday props with the elfie selfie station at Down Home Christmas Celebration in Alice Pleasant Park. The yearly downtown holiday gathering included many family activities.
Andy Bockelman
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Content provided by UCHealth

Amidst the worst pandemic in a century, holiday gatherings this year will have to cater to smaller guest lists and emphasize practicality, intimacy, simplicity and gratitude.

Plan for smaller holiday gatherings

For now, think small.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tips for a safe Thanksgiving gathering include:

  • Enjoying a small dinner only with people who live in your household.
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for relatives and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others.
  • Celebrating a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family.
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the following Monday.
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.

COVID-19 infections are on the rise and gatherings indoors could put you at risk of hosting or attending a super spreader event.

Embrace your power to say ‘no’

Dr. Michelle Barronone of the leading infectious disease experts in Colorado and medical director for infection control and prevention at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, hereby gives you permission to turn down any and all invitations that make you the least bit uncomfortable.

“If you have any doubts, this is the year to skip it,” Barron said. “The potential consequences of you bringing flu or COVID-19 to your family holiday gathering or acquiring it and bringing it back home afterwards isn’t worth it.”

Barron is urgently calling on people to be as careful as ever. Wear masks. Wash hands. Avoid. large groups and indoor gatherings. Practice social distancing and stay home whenever possible. Help drive the infection rates down now.

Go for intimacy: Avoid large holiday gatherings and make the most of tiny affairs

This year, staying close to home and keeping your holiday gatherings small is the best way to stay safe.

“Unless you have the ability to stay separate and distance outside, keep it small,” Barron said.

Make the most of a more intimate gathering. Don’t be afraid to create some fun, new traditions.

Try a new recipe. Make a new tradition. Play charades over Zoom with family in another location.

Be practical and endure the cold: Hold holiday gatherings outside

If you are planning to get together with a very small group of people who don’t live in your household, meet with them outside. Volunteer together — from a safe distance —  to deliver food to hungry people. Have fun afterwards with a game of Frisbee.

If you’re dining outside, meet for a late lunch when temperatures will be warmer than the evening. Dress like you’re headed to play in the snow. Wear layers. Add a hat and gloves. And hosts or guests can provide freshly laundered blankets to guests.

You can gather around an outdoor fireplace, or if you can find one for sale, buy yourself a patio heater. If you’re mindful of all the safety protocols, you could even cook a delicious turkey outside.

Invoke gratitude. Remember those who have endured sacrifices throughout history.

Barron draws inspiration and perspective by thinking about how Europeans handled Nazi attacks during World War II.

“They had to deal with nightly bombings. We should consider ourselves blessed, even now,” Barron said. “Our worst scenario is that we have to avoid in-person gatherings and do the holidays instead on Zoom. It’s annoying. It’s inconvenient. It’s unfortunate.”

But, says Barron, “It’s not catastrophic.”

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