November 23, 2021

How to gather safely with loved ones this holiday season

Many people around the world are trying to find the safest way to celebrate with family and friends this holiday season. After many months of isolation, it’s no surprise that we are all looking forward to spending time with the people we love. That said, COVID-19 should still be a major consideration when deciding how your family will meet this winter.

The good news? In-person gatherings are possible. Medical experts agree that if everyone is fully vaccinated, you can safely gather indoors this year (with some precautions). If not everyone is vaccinated, the safest option is to gather virtually.

Read on for some simple steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from COVID-19 during the holidays:

If you’re hosting a gathering:

Plan ahead

If you are hosting a private indoor gathering with friends and family, review your guest list and think about who you are inviting. Are there people who are in the high-risk category (elderly, young children, immune deficient)? Do you know if everyone is vaccinated? If not, it’s important to ask so you can plan accordingly. You can also encourage guests to get their booster or third shots if they’re eligible. Extra protection from the vaccine will fully kick-in two weeks after their appointment.

If there are multiple unvaccinated households or households with unvaccinated people at high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19, the best choice is to gather virtually. If you decide to gather in person, be very clear with all guests that safety will be your main priority. Gather outdoors if at all possible, and if you must gather indoors, pick a location that is well ventilated.

Follow the guidelines and consider more vulnerable attendees:

Keeping gatherings as short and small as possible. This makes it easier to control unknown guest variables and keep hands and surfaces properly sanitized. If you’re gathering indoors with people outside of your household, it’s recommended that everyone over the age of 2 wear face coverings, unless most attendees are fully vaccinated. Have extra masks on hand if people forget. Wearing masks and sanitizing hands and surfaces is especially important when kids are present, as they have trouble staying six feet apart.

Do a health check

Ask if anyone has had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 2 week and have guest check their temperature before arriving. Anyone who’s not feeling well, or exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, should stay home.

Those who are not vaccinated should get tested 72 hours before the gathering; or do an at-home, rapid test the day of the gathering. Fully vaccinated people can also consider getting tested, especially if attending a gathering with young children or higher-risk people.

If you’re traveling to see loved ones:

Visiting Loved Ones at Kline Galland

At this time we are unable to have family members or loved ones join residents or patients in our dining rooms for shared meals. We will be offering traditional thanksgiving dining meals for all residents of both the Kline Galland Home and the Mary Schwartz Summit. Residents of both facilities are able to attend the home of a family member or loved one as their risk assessment allows. Visitors are welcome at both the Kline Galland Home and the Mary Schwartz Summit.

To schedule a visit at the Kline Galland Home, please contact your social worker, activities department, or using our online web scheduler, here.

Visitation is open at the Mary Schwartz Summit. If you’d like to let our staff know of your visit, please contact the Concierge.

Travel safely

If you’re traveling to gather with loved ones, please be sure to follow CDC travel guidelines. If you’re traveling to an area with high rates of COVID-19 cases, be extra vigilant about wearing a mask and maintaining social distance (six feet) apart from others in public. If possible, incorporate testing into your travel safety precautions.

Not ready to gather:

Go virtual

Virtual gatherings are the safest way to gather if multiple unvaccinated households are involved. And they can be a lot of fun! Traditional holiday activities like cooking, gift exchanges and game nights can all happen virtually. Set up a free account on a platform like Zoom or Google Meet to get going.

Reviewing this list and answering these questions will help you develop a plan to protect your loved ones and safely celebrate the holidays. If you are looking for more information or resources to guide your holiday gatherings, please visit the Washington State Coronavirus Response’s Safer Gatherings website:


Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

Categories: General, Health & Wellness