The twinkling lights, smell of freshly baked goodies and the festive cheer make the holiday season oh-so-special. It’s natural to want to spend quality time with loved ones, gather for dinner or head out for drinks. While this was all fair and expected till last year, the pandemic arrived like The Grinch to put a damper on our collective festive spirits. But there are preventative measures you can take by following safety guidelines. When celebrating the holidays with friends and family, don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season compromise your judgement. Find out what needs to be done and what to be avoided while you host or attend a party this festive season.
1. If You’re Travelling, Plan Well
Whether you are travelling in the city or plan on heading home for the holidays, it’s a great idea to keep it safe. With the streets and sidewalks busy with folks rushing through their holiday to-do lists, it’s important to keep road safety top of mind. Getting yourself tested before you travel is important. Try doing this up to 3 days before to circumvent any unexpected onset of illness while in transit. It’s good not just for you and fellow passengers, but for loved ones you may be visiting too. But this, like everything else travel-related these days, takes planning. If possible, travel with people you know and have been in contact with lately. This helps preserve the bubble and safety net. Follow the same precautions leading up to the trip.
2. Prep Your Home For Holiday Visitors
Be sure your festivities aren’t interrupted by safety concerns or mishaps. Preparing your home before your (planned or unplanned) guests arrive will help make your holiday party merry and safe.
For planned guests:
Keep the guest list small and invite those who you know follow the guidelines diligently. A phone call might be better than a text or email invitation. That way, you can explain what you have in mind. Gone are the days of buffets but pre-packed meals can be a great way to ensure safety. Takeout works well as well.
For unplanned guests:
Ask people to take their shoes off at the door, sanitize before they enter, and to keep their masks on for the duration of their visit. It is also advisable to have a separate area to entertain guests than the one for home use. For example, sit on the dining table with unexpected guests and in the living room when they’re gone. This helps because you can disinfect yourself after their visit and disinfect the dining table much more easily than the living room couches.
Make sure to stock plenty of disposable towels, wipes, sanitisers and hand wash.
3. Socialize Responsibly
Being responsible doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and socialize during this pandemic. Avoid shaking hands and rather greet in other ways like namaste or a wave, or even an air high-five. Make sure that everyone’s in good spirits but not going overboard. Alcohol can lower inhibitions and cause a lapse in judgement. And while dancing and celebrating is all good fun, keep a safe distance; go back to your school days of watchful eyes and dancing with rules.
Intensivist Dr Sandeep Patil Of Fortis Mumbai Shares Expert Advice For Your Holiday Party
1. It Is In The Air – Keep That Mask On
Holidays are meant for embraces, and gathering at closed places can be risky even with a few people around. Masks can help reduce the risk but spending hours together in a small place can be risky. Ensure you gather at places that are not overcrowded and have enough airflow. Also, avoid touching your mask from the outside. Always unmask in private, and with the help of the ear loops to avoid contamination.
2. Safety Is In Your Own Hands – Hold On To That Sanitizer
Stock up an adequate amount of hand sanitiser along with soap, water, paper towels, tissues, disinfecting wipes and no-touch/ foot pedal trash cans (preferably covered). This will help in keeping things hygienic and safe at any party. Keep multiple sanitiser bottles that guests can reach out to across various corners of the house. Using a spray/spritz bottle to dispense your sanitiser can further be helpful in maintaining social distance and cleaning up surfaces. Sanitiser sprays are easily available in shops.
3. Play That Music, But Keep The Volume Low
Indeed! Loud music makes people scream over each other. If things get louder, people talk forcefully. That means we are spewing spit and much more. You do not want residue circulating in the air. Best to use ambient music to keep the party going, at a volume that still makes it easy for people to converse without having to throw their voice.
4. Not Sharing Is Caring – Don’t Share Food, Drinks, Cigarettes
Friendship is all about sharing and while scientists haven’t ever blamed food for the pandemic, gathering around buffet or cocktails can increase the likelihood of virus being passed on to others. Do use disposable plates and glasses. Have an individual set of things for each guest so the chance of personal contact is reduced. Also, don’t let someone taste or sip on your cocktail, or pass around a smoke with friends.
5. Sanitise After Contact With Frequently Touched Surfaces – Knobs, Chairs, Faucets
Time and again it has been proven that any surface can harbour infectious viruses. Sanitize the premises and maintain hygiene in the party area. Use a disinfectant spray to clean and disinfect shared objects between guests. Restroom hygiene needs to be considered strictly while planning the get-together. Every guest can be responsible for themselves and use the hand sanitiser when they touch a frequently used surface.
6. Food Rules – Individual Servings
Don’t do a buffet service. Select food items which can be of single-serving. Takeout in individual packs is also a great idea. Use disposable cutlery and everyone should hold on to their own glass and plates. Couples and friends may be inclined to eat from the same plate or friends may flick food from your plate when passing, but this should be avoided.
The Best Advice – If You Can, Go Virtual With Your Party
Everyone has adopted digital transformation in this pandemic. Virtual parties can be a good option for your friends who are away from you. Also, you do not have to limit the attendance and can enjoy from the comfort of your home to bid goodbye to 2020. It will be fun, it will be stress-free, it will be inexpensive, it will be different from anything you’ve done before, so why not?
Just think about it.