HSHS Medical Group PatientFirst PatientFirst Back to Winter 2020 Have a happy holiday—even with COVID-19 It's the holiday season, and COVID-19 is still a presence in the U.S. What does that mean for holiday celebrations? Some parties may need to be called off. Buffet-style office parties, for instance, are probably not a good idea. And what about family gatherings—especially large ones? These may look very different from years past, if they happen at all. Still, you can enjoy the holidays while doing everything you can to stay safe from the virus. Here are some suggestions. Weather permitting, dine outdoors. There's less risk of virus spread when gathering outside. So take the party into the backyard if you can. "Wear masks," says Larisa Ciatlos-Deak, MD, family medicine physician. "Ask everyone to wear a mask when gathering indoors and when outdoors if social distancing isn't possible." Is there a creative crafter in the group? Maybe they could sew fun, holiday-themed masks for kids (2 years and older) and adults. Ban the buffet. Assign people to be servers. It's less risky than letting everyone serve themselves. Arrange tables and chairs to accommodate social distancing. Group people from the same household together at smaller tables set six feet apart. Avoid close contact. "No matter how happy people are to see each other, discourage hugs and handshakes," says Dr. Ciatlos-Deak. "Verbal hellos, bowing and waving are all OK." Hold a series of small gatherings. If your big family typically gets together on one day, could smaller groups get together over the course of several days? Have a video celebration. Instead of gathering for dinner in person, gather virtually using a video chat app. Does someone in the family have a super-secret holiday recipe? Ask them to reveal it in advance this year so everyone can make it and enjoy it together virtually. Think of other holiday traditions to celebrate via video too, like decorating a tree or opening presents. Sure, it's not as fun as an in-person celebration. But you can still share the spirit of the holidays this way. Tap into teens' technology skills. Speaking of video celebrations, many teens are masters at using technology. They can teach less-savvy adults how to connect via video apps. Also ask your teens for help hosting a game or movie night. (Scrabble or Home Alone, anyone?) It's another great way to share some fun when you can't be physically together during the holidays. Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention In a holidaze? Faking the merriment? Check out our tips for warding off the holiday blahs at Library.HSHSMedicalGroup.org/happy-holiday. Categories: COVID-19, Holidays Care for your whole family Dr. Ciatlos-Deak sees patients at HSHS Medical Group Family & Sports Medicine–Mt. Zion, located at 4965 E. Lost Bridge Road in Decatur. Call 888-331-8382 to make an appointment.