Have yourself a merry Covid-safe Christmas

A Covid-safe Christmas doesn’t have to take all the fun out of the silly season. Here’s how to enjoy your favourite traditions a little differently.

’Tis the season to be jolly and after months of lockdowns, social distancing and other restrictions, BOY are we ready to party.

But as much as we’d like things to be business as usual, planning Covid-safe Christmas festivities may need a little more work to keep friends, family (and yourself!) happy and healthy.

Here’s our expert advice for how to celebrate the holiday season safely, while keeping spirits merry and bright.

Take your Covid-safe Christmas outdoors

We’re lucky in Australia – Christmas falls in summer which makes entertaining outdoors easy.

If you’re planning a get-together with people who don’t live with you, think about hosting outdoors, whether it be your back garden, local park or even the beach.

“Covid is going from a pandemic to an endemic, it’s not going anywhere soon and we have to learn to live with it as safely as we can,” Perth-based GP Joe Kosterich says.

Studies have shown you’re less likely to be exposed to the virus during outdoor activities, even without the use of masks.

Just remember to be sun smart.

Keep your social distance

If the weather is questionable and you do need to be indoors, for a Covid-safe Christmas think about using multiple rooms to space people out.

Avoid crowded seating and make things fun by dragging out your camping gear (think trestle tables and portable chairs) so you can keep your guests a healthy distance apart.

Open windows to let in fresh air and keep any enthusiastic carol singing to a minimum to stop droplets being sprayed across the room.

And sorry folks, we’re not the Grinch, but no hugs or kisses.

Not sharing is caring

Sure there’ll be a celebratory drink or two after the year that was 2021, but a Covid-safe Christmas means being careful not to drink out of someone else’s glass or share plates.

“Encourage your guests to bring their own food and drinks if possible,” Dr Kosterich says. “And hand hygiene is really important, so keep the sanitiser close by.”

Try using tags on glasses so people remember which is theirs and give kids different coloured cups for the same reason.

Have a Covid-safe Christmas back-up plan

We’re still living in a time of unknowns so it pays to have a back-up plan for your Covid-safe Christmas celebrations, according to emotional intelligence and human behaviour expert Amy Jacobson.

“I know we’re all craving normality, and it’s traditional for people to be very organised with a locked-in plan,” Amy says.

“But these are not normal times and the situation with Covid and restrictions can change quickly.

“So while plan A may be how you’re going to celebrate if everything is open and there are no restrictions, you need a plan B and C.”

If you’re sick, cancel Christmas

You’ve heard it before but there’s nothing to be gained by soldiering on if you’re sick.

If you’re unwell, stay home, and get tested if you have any Covid symptoms, Dr Kosterich advises.

At home rapid antigen test kits are now readily available through most of Australia and can be used to screen for Covid-19.

A standard PCR test is still required to diagnose the illness.

“If you’re hosting a get-together, see if someone else can step in or postpone until you’re feeling better,” he says.

“Christmas usually means grandparents and children involved and priority has to be keeping those you love safe.”

Yes, we’re all Zoomed out but a virtual celebration is always a possibility if you need it.

Covid-safe Christmas is time for caring

“Another thing to remember is that everyone is coping with Covid in a different way,” Amy says.

“When you have people in a highly emotional state and you’re getting together as a family, you may have the best intentions, but there’s a high possibility there’s going to be tension.

“Be kind and give people a break, it’s not the time to be dredging up something that happened 10 years ago.”

Dr Kosterich recommends taking the emphasis off gifts.

“Many people have been out of work and have lost income so focus on the people and the joy,” he says.

“The present will be your presence!”

For more fun, festive and topical health and wellness information, check out the December issue of Wellness+, available free in-store at Chemist Warehouse.

Written by Liz McGrath.