Tips for Celebrating the Holidays During the COVID-19 Pandemic

December 4, 2020

The holidays are approaching and what is normally a time for family and friends to come together, has been complicated by the realities of Chicago’s second surge of COVID-19 and the onset of the flu season 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cancelling or significantly modifying your holiday plans this year due to the widespread surge of COVID-19.   


We would like to encourage you to take the safest steps possible to protect you and your loved ones. If possible, you should consider hosting virtual celebrations in place of in-person gatherings. 


If you do plan on getting together with your familyhere are some tips to make the most of the holidays while reducing some of the risks of getting together in person:  


Two Weeks Before Your Gathering: 

  1. Limit your activities in the two weeks before your gatheringpractice preventive health measures, and ask your guests to do the sameSocial distancing, wearing a mask and hand washing are proven methods to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  If you do need to go out, limit trips to essential services only like grocery shopping or medical visits.  Make sure the rest of your family does the same. Better yet, see if you can have a virtual visit with your provider or use curbside pick-up or contactless delivery for shopping.   
  2. Get a flu shot. Flu and COVID-19 each can cause serious respiratory illness and co-infection could possibly lead to more severe health outcomes. The flu shot is safe for anyone over 2 years old.  Now is the time for you and your family to get their flu shot, if they haven’t already.   
  3. Get tested. In addition to limiting your activity two weeks before the holiday, a COVID-19 test followed by continued limited social activity is recommended. COVID-19 test results take 2-4 days (based on ACCESS’ test site locations) so plan to give yourself enough time to get your results. As a reminder, a COVID-19 test indicates the presence of infection at the moment of testing, which is why it is important to stay home as much as possible before the event. The incubation period for COVID-19 can vary, so if you have been exposed through close-contact with someone who has COVID-19 or experience any symptoms after testing, you should skip the gathering and quarantine for the full 14 days.  To schedule a COVID-19 test at one of ACCESS’ five testing locations, call 1.800.836.7633. 


Day of Holiday Gathering: 

  1. Travel safely. Traveling increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. When traveling via plane or other forms of public transportation, maintain social distancing to the best of your ability and and wear a mask at all times. If traveling by car, limit the number of stops along your route, wash hands and wear a mask at all times when with others not in your household. 
  2. Keep the guest list small or limit it to only people who live with you. Two-thirds of COVID-19 transmissions occur from indoor gatherings and unmasking indoors with people who don’t live with you.. Limiting the guest list OR for this year, keeping the holiday only to people who you live with or you can confirm have been strictly following public health guidelines, reduces everyone’s risk of exposure.  
  3. Consider celebrating in locations with good air flow or go outside, if possible. Wear masks when you are not eating.  
  4. When serving food, avoid a buffet-style or potluck setting and consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.  Create table configurations so people who don’t live in the same household are at least 6 feet apart.  
  5. If you or someone in your household are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19, please follow the advice of your medical provider and public health experts. Err on the side of caution, quarantine for 14 days from the time of exposure, and skip the gathering.    


COVID-19 has changed every aspect of our lives but by practicing everyday preventive measures and putting the health and safety of our loved ones first, we can slow the spread of this deadly virus and celebrate responsibly. 


Additional Resources:

CDC Travel Recommendations

CDPH Coronavirus Resource Center

IDPH COVID-19 Holiday Season Safety Tips



As of March 28, 2023