Holiday Plans in Flux Because of COVID-19? How to Manage This Gracefully

The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has left the upcoming holiday season in flux. Many states have gone so far as to restrict people from gathering outside of their immediate households. Most recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommended that Americans restrict non-essential travel. Because of these new restrictions and recommendations, many families have had to re-think their regular holiday plans.

This new normal has understandably led to some awkward conversations with family members. Not everyone is always on the same page about how to approach family gatherings during these challenging times, particularly in light of the new guidance from health and government officials.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you try to navigate this delicate situation with friends and family.

Learning to Say No Gracefully

It is especially challenging to say no to events with family members if they are not taking the virus seriously. Learning how to back out of the gathering gracefully will go a long way in preserving your relationship in the future. If you do not feel comfortable getting together with others, be sure to decline the invitation by first saying that you appreciate the invite. You can then explain your concerns.

Note that you do not need to go into great detail about the reasons for your reservations. This will only cause friction and inadvertently make the host feel guilty or ashamed of continuing with the plans. While you may feel sad about missing out on the festivities, keep in mind that you need to stay resolute in your decision.

Asking a Host to Take More Precautions

Perhaps you decide that you want to attend the event, however, you want to ensure that the host is taking the proper precautions? This can be a tricky situation to navigate. But now is the time to speak up before accepting an invite.

Simply asking questions about plans for social distancing and mask-wearing will help to guide your decision regarding the safety of this event. Another good topic to discuss with the host is whether the gathering can be safely held outside. You are within your rights to understand what precautions will be taken before deciding to attend the event.

How a Host Can Relay Information About Gathering Precautions

But what if you are the host? If you are still planning to bring a small group of people together for your holiday celebration, you are likely going to want to put some precautions in place. The safest step to take is to ask guests to quarantine for two weeks prior to the event. This is especially important for guests coming from another area of the country.

It is vital that you set the tone that you value safety first when you issue the invites to your gathering. Along with the invite, be sure to convey all of the precautions that you are putting in place. For example, if you plan on having the event outside, be sure to let all of your guests know so that they can dress appropriately. It is also a good idea to have plenty of hand sanitizer strategically place around your home. Providing disposable masks for those who may have forgotten to bring theirs is also responsible.

When You Need to Cancel as a Host

There will inevitably be people who need to cancel an event that they were planning to host. You should not feel pressured to forge ahead with your plans if you are not comfortable. This may be the case for families living in areas experiencing surges in cases or for families with elderly or at-risk members.

Be sure to express your regret while also offering alternatives for a gathering in the future. For example, try saying, "while we regret having to cancel this year's Thanksgiving gathering, we are looking forward to hosting a large Easter event." Scheduling a family Zoom call will also help to soften the blow.

It is important to keep in mind that this is just one holiday season. Promising news on the development of vaccines and therapeutic advancements means that everyone just needs to hunker down for a bit longer. With any luck, you will be together with all of your loved ones next year.

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