Celebrating Holidays Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic

‘Tis the season for holiday planning. Yet, gatherings of families and friends, crowded parties and travel may put Americans at an increased risk for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you carefully consider the spread risk of in-person holiday celebrations.

Several factors contribute to COVID-19 spreading in group settings. Those include community spread of the coronavirus, event location, event duration, quantity of attendees and the locations where attendees are coming from. It’s also important to consider attendees’ behavior both prior to the gathering and during the celebration.

Before a Gathering

If you choose to attend an in-person event, consider the following tips prior to the gathering:

  • Check your local health department’s website and familiarize yourself with the community levels of COVID-19 in your area.
  • Have an idea of the duration of the gathering and number of attendees. Gatherings with more people that last for a long period of time pose more risk than shorter, smaller gatherings.
  • Know where attendees are coming from. Host activities with only people from your local area as much as possible.
  • Check whether the host has steps in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Bring along supplies like extra masks, tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering.

Also, it’s important to stay home if you do not feel well or are at a higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19.

During a Gathering

Consider the following tips from the CDC to reduce your risk of being exposed to, contracting or spreading COVID-19 during an in-person event:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from people you don’t live with—and be mindful in areas where it may be harder to do so, such as restrooms and eating areas.
  • Wear a mask at all times when around people who don’t live in your household.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

If you want to celebrate the holidays as safely as possible this year, consider celebrating virtually or with members of your own household.

After a Gathering

If you participated in high-risk activities or think that you may have been exposed during the celebration, take extra precautions for 14 days after the event to protect others:

  • Stay home as much as possible. To learn more about quarantining or possible quarantine scenarios, check out our guide here.
  • Avoid being around other people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19

If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, or if you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact the host and others who attended the event or celebration that you attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the disease.

Contact you health care provider and follow the CDC’s recommendations for what to do if you become sick, and follow the public health recommendations for community-related exposure.


Many traditional activities can put you at a higher risk for exposure to COVID-19. To learn more about safer, alternative ways to celebrate the holidays, click here. To learn more about CDC advice for how to properly clean and disinfect your household amid COVID-19, click here.