The holidays are about spending time with your friends and family. But due to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, the holidays are going to look different this year. If you’re feeling uncertain about what you can do to lower the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, read on for five tips.

1. Talk About Your Expectations

Share your thoughts and feelings with your family about the safety precautions you want to follow during gatherings. If more than just your immediate family will be included at in-person celebrations, discuss their exposure, and make decisions to reduce risk.

Ask them to be diligent about wearing masks and distancing for the two weeks before getting together. Make a plan for isolating and testing a person who has new COVID-19 symptoms in the event that this happens during gathering or travel.

2. Follow These Guidelines

You may feel like you don’t need to practice precautions with your family. It could feel awkward to stick to the best practices. But during gatherings, it’s important to follow guidelines and keep everyone safe. Lower everyone’s risk by:

  • Wearing a mask.
  • Practicing social distancing.
  • Getting a flu shot.
  • Washing your hands frequently and correctly.
  • Cleaning surfaces.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Stay home if you’re at an increased risk for illness

3. Get Creative with Events

The holidays this year aren’t going to be like years past. Here are some ideas for how to stay safe during your event.

Single Household Gatherings: Limit your in-person celebrations to only those who live in your household. This is the safest way to celebrate.

Multiple Household Gatherings: Gathering with multiple households increases your risk. One way to mitigate that is to wear masks. If you gather with those from other households, spread out during eating. Instead of sitting closely around the Thanksgiving table, spread out and eat in multiple rooms. By having people sit apart from each other by household, they will be able to remove their masks to eat with a lowered possibility of infection. Have one person plate the food to limit the number of people that touch the food.

Connect Virtually: If it’s unsafe to gather in-person, connect using video calling. You’ll be able to share a meal with those who are far away.

Get Outside: Instead of an indoor meal, consider going on a hike or walk, which allows people to be outside and wear masks.

4. Travel Safely

You can get COVID-19 while traveling. Travel increases your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to keep yourself and those around you safe.

If you have COVID-19 and don’t have any symptoms, you can still spread it to others. You and anyone you’re traveling with can spread COVID-19 for 14 days after you were exposed to it.

Don’t travel if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days. Don’t travel with someone who is sick. If you must travel, avoid crowded transportation hubs, like airports. It’s important to be cautious, especially in the 14 days before seeing family.

5. Get Tested

The best way to know your COVID-19 status is to get a test. However, it’s important to understand that COVID-19 test results only provide information about the health of the person who got tested at the moment of the test.

If you contract COVID-19 after you get a test, that will not show up in the results. You could also get a false-negative test result if you are tested too early in your infection. The best way to make sure your test results are valid is to quarantine yourself until you get your results back. If you have a positive test, don’t travel or gather with your family.

If even with all of these tips, you still feel uncomfortable gathering, it’s fine to postpone your holiday celebrations until after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.