With Christmas just around the corner, it should be a time of excitement and anticipation. Usually, the festive season is full of plans to see friends and family that you maybe haven’t seen for months, giving you the perfect opportunity to catch up on life, gossip and laughter. Sadly for many, COVID-19 has put a stop to the planned celebrations, or at least imposed heavy limitations.
Whether you see loved ones at Christmas this year is really going to be down to individual discretion and how much individuals are prepared to ‘risk’ potential exposure to the virus. Over in the U.K. a 5 day ‘grace period’ has been granted in which individuals from 3 households are able to meet together over the Christmas day celebrations. Despite this relaxation in the rules, health officials have been keen to point out that this move poses significant risks and that cases are likely to rise considerably in January as a direct result of people’s action during that period. They have also urged people to use their ‘common sense’ when it comes to deciding who to see over Christmas and when.
One of the major considerations to take into account is whether your property can actually support a socially distanced Christmas. If you decide that it can, then there are likely to be more options open to you. Here are a few pointers to help you determine whether your property could accommodate a socially distanced Christmas celebration.
The most obvious starting point is how much space do you have in your property. You will need to be able to maintain a 1-2 meter distance between those from separate households at all times, so consider your seating arrangements for dinner as well as socializing. It may be that with a bit of clever reorganizing, you can adapt your living space into the perfect setting that provides the necessary space, whilst also promoting the feeling of being together and sharing in the celebrations. Naturally, if you happen to live in a small bedsit and want to have your family of 12 over for Christmas dinner, it’s unlikely that even the most creative of layouts will deliver the space you need to remain safe and protected.
Bathroom facilities are also an important consideration, as the guidelines indicate that washrooms should be cleaned in between usage by people from different households. One of the simplest ways to get around this issue (and assuming you have a second bathroom) would be to allocate one bathroom to those who live in the house with you, and one to your guests. This will avoid any cross-contamination and prevent you having to try and clean multiple bathrooms each time someone needs to toilet after drinking too much fizz!
It has been suggested by experts that ventilated rooms can help to limit the spread of the virus, so consider how you may be able to encourage more air circulation in the room without everyone feeling the cold. You could consider adding a touch of coziness to the proceedings by adding some fluffy cushions and blankets so that your guests have the opportunity to wrap up a little if they start to feel a chill. If you have a large conservatory you could consider hosting the meal there, where you can open some windows or doors and even create a winter ‘al fresco’ feel to the proceedings!
Separate cutlery and crockery
Christmas is well known for the mountain of washing up, but this could get even more complicated this year when you are trying to avoid people mixing their use of plates, bowls cups, knives, forks and spoons. Consider creating a little box for each guest which includes their own items for the day. You can also include an individual tea towel so they can wash and dry their own item before putting it back in their box. Not only will this help to limit any spread of infection, it will cut down on the washing up too.
Now whilst this final point has nothing to do with the property itself, it is an important consideration when deciding whether to have guests over for Christmas or not. Socially distancing also means avoiding hugs and kisses, and when you are dealing with loved ones this is really hard to maintain, particularly for extended periods of time. If you feel that it will just be too difficult for the kids not to hug nanna or sit on auntie June’s lap, it may be better to avoid the temptation all together and opt for a micro-family Christmas celebration instead. With the vaccines now starting to roll out, it may well be worth holding out for a few more months and having a proper celebration over the summer instead.