It’s officially the time of yule, when chestnuts roast on an open fire, Jack Frost nips at your nose, and Mariah Carey croons on a loop. Unfortunately, this year, along with the good, there’s a fair amount of bad––and we’re not talking about pesky in-laws or fruitcake. The COVID-19 pandemic is still going strong, and while there seems to be a vaccine on the horizon, we’re not out of the woods yet.
Many holiday traditions are strictly verboten this year, such as caroling, cookie exchanges, and kissing under the mistletoe. There was a spike in cases after the Thanksgiving holiday, and a spike is expected after Christmas as well. This is a scary thought, but instead of letting it cripple you with fear, arm yourself with knowledge to keep you and your family safe. Here are a few tips to help you keep COVID-19 at bay this holiday season.
Don’t settle for anything less than an effective mask
The most important thing you can do to have a happy and healthy holiday this year is to wear an effective mask anytime you are outside your home. It’s great that more people are wearing them these days, but unfortunately not all masks are made equal. You can’t beat an N95 for filtration purposes, but since those should be reserved for medical workers, your next best bet is an FDA-registered surgical mask. We really like the ones made by Austin-based retailer Armbrust, which have the coveted ASTM Level II rating (the highest rating a surgical mask can get). With 99.2% bacterial and particle filtration, you really can’t go wrong pairing one of these with your holiday plans.
Keep your mask on, seriously
Even the most effective masks on the market only work if you wear them, and wear them correctly. You may think that as long as you keep six feet away from family at gatherings, you’ll be right as rain. But why risk it? Social distancing while also wearing your mask doesn’t just lower your risk of spreading the virus, it lowers your risk exponentially. And since the CDC just issued new guidance advising people to wear masks at all times when they leave home, the facts are there––if we want to control the soaring COVID cases in the U.S., we gotta mask up.
Refrain from entering populated zones
Yes, the holiday season usually means shopping for gifts for friends and loved ones. To reduce risk as cases spike across the nation, you may want to consider doing all your shopping online this year. That includes gifts for Christmas, but also trips to the grocery store or even last-minute department store r
uns. Many popular chains will not only deliver what you need to your home, but also offer curbside delivery. Stay away from fellow shoppers, especially as the holiday rush starts in the third week of December, and you can certainly cut down on any unnecessary risk.
Because of the spike in cases after Thanksgiving, you may want to forgo your usual family get-together, especially if folks you usually party with are at high risk. Luckily, modern marvels like Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet allow folks around the world to gather from the comfort of their own homes.
Many family traditions associated with the holiday don’t require you to be in the same room. Virtual games like Jackbox, Among Us, and countless other console titles are more fun than smelly old Monopoly ever was. Binging holiday classics like Home Alone, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, and yeah, Die Hard can be enjoyed via cyberspace. Just make sure everyone hits play at the same time. Even Christmas morning gift exchanges can be done via streaming, like your very own YouTube unboxing video.
Nobody is saying the holidays this year will be easy, and staying safe while trying to keep everyone happy will take some sacrifice and commitment on just about everyone’s part. Still, if you’re responsible, wear your mask, and follow strict social distancing rules, it can still be a wonderful holiday.