Holiday Gatherings

As cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase across the United States, the safest way to celebrate the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with the people you live with.

Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu. Learn more about the CDC guidelines for holiday gatherings.

 Learn more about the Fishers Health Department's current orders and recommendations.

Considerations for Small Gatherings of Family & Friends

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.

Organizers and attendees of larger events should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size (number of attendees and other factors) and take steps to reduce the possibility of infection, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings.

Several factors can contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at small in-person gatherings. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 – High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering. Information on the number of cases in an area can often be found on the local health department website or on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker County View.
  • Exposure during travel – Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
  • Location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • Duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine.
  • Number and crowding of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Individuals who did not consistently adhere to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, handwashing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than those who consistently practiced these safety measures.
  • Behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more safety measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. Use of alcohol or drugs may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

The following people should not attend in-person holiday gatherings:

People with or exposed to COVID-19

Do not host or participate in any in-person gatherings if you or anyone in your household

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  • Has symptoms of COVID-19
  • Is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
  • May have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Do not host or attend gatherings with anyone who has COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

People at increased risk for severe illness

If you are an older adult or person with certain medical conditions who is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

December Holidays Tips and Ideas

Hanukkah: (Dec 10-18)

Here are some safe ways to celebrate Hanukkah. Happy Hanukkah!

  • Organize a virtual menorah lighting with a local temple or with family members outside of your household near and far.
  • Find out who makes the best latkes. Fry latkes for family and friends, seal portions in separate containers, and drop them off. Do a virtual tasting and settle the debate over whether they are best served with applesauce or sour cream.
  • Organize a Hanukkah drive-by parade for your eight closest family members or friends.
  • Drop off gifts ahead of time and hold virtual opening parties throughout the holiday.

Las Posadas (Dec 16-24) and Nochebuena (Dec 24)

  • Drop off mini piñatas and / or poinsettia filled with treats and gifts for family and friends.
  • Pray the Rosary (prayer beads honoring Mary) with relatives, virtually or over the phone
  • Make nativity story stones to tell the story of the stable birth, or craft felt poinsettias to decorate your home, hang on your tree, or send to loved ones.
  • Since your recipe for lechón likely makes enough to share, create to-go boxes with pork, rice, black beans, and lime wedges for family members to pick up on your porch.
  • Help your kids help make their own piñata this year.

Happy Las Posadas and Nochebuena!

Christmas (Dec 25)

  • Organize a drive-by caroling event to surprise loved ones or hold a virtual caroling party
  • Decorate your home with Christmas lights and invite family and friends to drive by to see the light display. Encourage neighbors to do the same for a drive-by light display.
  • Hold a virtual tree-trimming event, followed by virtually watching a favorite Christmas movie together with hot cocoa.
  • Create a holiday season to-do list or bingo card with ideas for celebrating the holiday, such as making paper snowflakes, building a gingerbread house, baking cookies, writing to Santa, or learning about a holiday tradition in another country. Share the list with family and friends and touch base regularly to compare progress. Keep the spirit going!

Merry Christmas!

Kwanza (Dec 26 to January 1)

  • Hold virtual kinara lightings and celebration of music with extended family and friends.
  • Drop off some fresh vegetables or a pot of groundnut stew to a loved one.
  • Ask family and friends to write or share a favorite poem or story. Gather virtually to read them aloud to one another and collect them in a booklet that can be used during future gatherings.

Happy Kwanza!

New Years Eve and Day (Dec 31- Jan 1)

  • Send a message of peace or reconciliation to help heal a rift with a family member or friend
  • Make new year intentions/resolutions and virtually gather with friends and family on New Year’s Day to share them as well as your hopes for the new year
  • Look up the 2020 year end “Top Ten” lists of films or music and listen to or watch your favorites, or try something that you might not usually choose.
  • Host a virtual New Year's Eve party with family and friends. Send noisemakers and party horns in advance and make sure everyone is signed on at midnight for a noisy goodbye to 2020 and welcome to 2021. Even though it was a tough 2020, ask everyone to share a bright spot from the year.

A joyous and wonderful new year ahead!