Healthy Holiday Parties

Aging

Marley Majcher, better known as the Party Goddess,  plans events big and small, often for celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan (James Bond, Mamma Mia) and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family, America’s Got Talent). But COVID has thrown her—as well as we everyday hosts and hostesses—a frustrating curveball.

The burning seasonal question is: How to host a holiday party that keeps everyone as healthy as possible—not just from COVID but from flu (which is making a comeback after a slow year in 2020) and colds?

Relax, we got some strategies from the Party Goddess, the CDC and a family medicine physician.

Healthy Party Strategies 

Stay flexible.

“This year, we hear, ‘It’s OK, yes, you can have parties,’” Majcher says. But along comes a variant—most recently Omicron—and things seem to change every 10 minutes.  So, you can plan the perfect party—but you need to realize you may need to downsize, change the venue or scrap it altogether, depending on what happens next.

You may decide you aren’t comfortable having unvaccinated people at your gathering.

Collect Intel on Your Guests.

Are some family and friends unvaccinated?   “Have open conversations,” suggests Kavita Shanker-Patel, MD, a family medicine doctor at Northwestern Medicine, Chicago. You may decide you aren’t comfortable having unvaccinated people at your gathering.

Decide Your Policy.

You may request that guests submit their vaccination record ahead of time, as they RSVP. If you do that, Majcher says, “you have to know you are going to create controversy. Some people get jacked up about it.” Jacked up or not, each host or hostess needs their own policy on vaccination—and stick to it, she says. They have to decide—is a negative test a few days before as OK with them as a vaccine record?  Most of her clients, she says, request that guests be vaccinated. People are becoming increasingly used to that, she says, especially if they go to large events such as charity fundraisers.

‘if you are hosting a party, it’s very fair to ask people their vaccination status.”

Shanker-Patel urges everyone eligible to get vaccinated, and says ”if you are hosting a party, it’s very fair to ask people their vaccination status.” She finds that ”the people who are vaccinated won’t have a problem talking about their vax status.” For the unvaccinated, she says it’s not unreasonable to ask them to get a COVID test within 48 hours of the event. “If they refuse to do that as well, I would recommend they shouldn’t come to the party.”

It’s also wise to remind guests to stay home if they aren’t feeling well, whether they are worried they have COVID, the flu or a cold, she says.

If young children not yet eligible for vaccination are coming to your party, it’s even more important to surround them with vaccinated people, the CDC says.

Create a Safer Venue.

Outdoor gatherings are, of course, less risky than indoor, but may not be possible in colder climates.  Consider seating families from different households at different tables. If someone is high risk, even if vaccinated, hosts might ask guests to wear a mask when not eating or drinking, the CDC suggests.

If a gathering is indoors, improving ventilation is a good measure, the CDC says. Open a window or windows if possible.

Set a Different Table.

The FDA says there is no risk from contracting COVID from a food or a food handler, but some people are just more comfortable not being served family style. The Party Goddess suggests making it fun—”Make stuff individually. Remember, a million years ago, cupcakes in a jar?

“Have as many opportunities as possible for people to wash or sanitize their hands,” she says. Put sanitizer dispensers at the bar, on the table, and around the party space.

Think Outside the Box.

Instead of a dinner party, go cross country skiing or hiking, suggest experts at the Mayo Clinic.

This article offered by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.  

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