5 On Your Side

Keep your holidays safe by using TV trays, wearing masks or electing a holiday commissioner

Posted November 5, 2020 5:36 p.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2020 6:11 p.m. EST

We all could use a little normalcy right now, especially as we approach the holidays.

Despite health experts’ advice to celebrate only with those you live with, many won't follow that guidance.

"We are still planning to get together, it may just be outside at a fire or something," said Elizabeth Moore.

"There's usually about 70 [people,] so this year we canceled our family get together," said Sue Best.

Both women said it was a necessary change as cases related to get-togethers jump in North Carolina.

It happened to Aposia Singleton this summer. She and eight family members got coronavirus after gathering for Father’s Day.

Since you don’t want the dinner you attend, or host, to be the state’s next coronavirus cluster, make sure to set clear expectations upfront. As tough as it may be to adhere to, experts say expectations should include everyone wearing a mask.

"We don't want to put our loved ones, who are more vulnerable, at risk," says Dr. John Sanders, an infectious disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

He said if you do move forward with a holiday gathering – skip buffets.

"Don't gather around the turkey altogether, stay spaced as plates are served," Sanders suggested. "Try to have one or two individuals prepare the plates and provide them to people, have those individuals masked while they are preparing the food."

When it's time to eat, don't seat everyone at one table.

Sanders said this is the year to go old school, use TV trays or card tables and only sit with those you live with.

Even better, gather outdoors.

If you must be inside, whatever the weather, open the windows.

"That would really improve the ventilation and decrease the risk of infection," said Sanders.

As for hugs, Sanders said this year, it need to be as few as possible.

"When there is a hug, both people being masked is a great way to go into that," he added.

Consider staggering guest arrival and departure times to cut down on crowd size.

Also consider having extra disposable masks, in case someone forgets theirs.

Another idea is to elect a holiday commissioner, one family members whose duty is to make sure everyone follows the rules.

Finally, weigh the risks you present: Are you frequently around other people? Do you consistently social distance and wear a mask?

"I really think there is a lot of individual responsibility, individual burden on us to say, I might not be safe to be around you," said Sanders.

After what they went through, the Singletons are rethinking the holidays, and hope others do, too.

"It is very disappointing," said Best.

"It'll be interesting, but we'll figure it out," said Moore.

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