Navigating COVID-19 and the holiday season

Nov 17, 2020 | Olivia White | @oliviawhite

shutterstock_imageThe holiday season is practically here and the top of mind topic is how to safely celebrate to best prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For some of us, we are living in areas where the warm summer nights and brisk fall days have gone, and with them they took away the safer option of an outdoor gathering with masks and effective social distancing. One of the harder things about the holiday season is that people are not only facing indoor events, but also events that are often centered around eating and drinking where masking isn’t possible. Transplant patients are included among those that are considered high risk. While it is of the upmost importance we all take the proper safety measures, it can be more stressful for individuals who are at higher risk.

We are sharing some guidelines provided by Mayo Clinic to help you navigate this time of year if you decide to attend an indoor celebration and some ideas for how to virtually celebrate this year.

A Virtual Celebration

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other options have helped us stay connected this year and are a great option to use for a large family ‘gathering’ where every household can join and connect safely without concern for exposure or infection of COVID-19. Some ideas to help make your virtual gathering feel festive are:

  • Decorate/Festive background: have each household decorate their spaces or use a festive background or light a holiday scented candle to help everyone get in the spirit.


  • Encourage everyone to get dressed up: do you have a holiday dress, sweater, socks, or earrings? Does your family wear matching pajamas every year? Anything that gets you in the spirit, even a simple Santa hat, put it on!


  • Coordinate what you’re eating and/or drinking: Everyone doesn’t have to make that full on Thanksgiving meal for themselves or their household, but those gathering virtually can all agree on a meal that everyone could make, a dish that is sentimental to your family or even just have everyone make a cup of hot cocoa. This can help everyone feel connected by sharing something, even far apart.


  • Plan some activities: there are lots of games that can be played virtually! Each person/household can choose a game to ‘host’ that way everyone has a chance to play. Some games require a little prep like sending documents to everyone for printing.
    • Name that holiday tune
    • Unscramble the holiday word/phrase
    • Holiday Emoji Pictionary
    • Holiday bingo
    • Holiday Trivia Game
    • Have a holiday movie watch party: have a movie you all watch together every year? You don’t have to all watch it on Zoom together, but you can commit to watching it at the same time one day and maybe text each other during your favorite parts.
    • If your family has a tradition of reading a certain story or book, wrap up the virtual party with a reading or start this tradition yourself.

In person Celebration

While most experts suggest not participating in gatherings this holiday season, if you choose to gather, consider these safety measures.

What to consider:

  • What are the current levels of COVID-19 in the area?
  • How long is the event?
  • Where is it being held? Outdoors vs indoors? If it is indoors, will there be proper ventilation (open windows and doors)? Indoor events with poor ventilation are the greatest risk.
  • How many people will attend?
  • Will the guests attending be traveling and how?
  • Do those attending follow safety measures?
  • Will guests get a COVID-19 test before attending?

Safety Tips for hosts and guests at an in-person gathering:

  • Wear a mask
  • Encourage and practice proper hand hygiene
  • Socially distance
  • Promote safety around food and drinks: avoid self-serve food stations and shareable items. Take turns taking your masks off to eat and drink or take your meal to an area where you are socially distanced to eat.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces.

After the celebration:

If you feel like you were in close contact with many people from different households or you may have been exposed to COVID-19, take extra precautions for 14 days. Stay home and follow safety measures provided by the CDC.

If you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the other guests who also attended the event.

The holidays will take extra planning this year, but taking the appropriate safety precautions is worth it to make sure you and your loved ones minimize the risk of exposure or becoming infected with COVID-19.  What are your holiday plans this year? Share with us below!

Helpful Links

Learn more about Mayo Clinic’s tips on navigating the holidays during the pandemic.

Mayo Clinic Health System: Keeping your holidays safe during COVID-19

CDC guidelines for COVID-19 safety precautions

CDC guidelines for COVID-19 during the holidays

Monitor COVID-19 in your area with the Mayo Clinic map

Connect with others with our Transplant Discussion group

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Transplant blog.

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