This holiday season is going to be one of the more unusual ones. Between a pandemic and a polarizing political year, the family get-together is going to look a little different. What do you need to know to make it go as smoothly as possible? Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, cross-cultural trainer, author and founder of Access to Culture, has offered her advice.
Plan and Prepare in Advance but Be Flexible
A good host prepares their holiday gathering well in advance, but keep in mind you may have to practice being flexible. If COVID numbers rise, as they appear to be, you might have to postpone or cancel the festivities this year. Invited guests to a holiday celebration should respect the host’s decision to make changes, even if it comes at the last minute.
Follow CDC Guidelines and Local Regulations
To keep everyone safe, follow the latest recommended CDC guidelines such as maintaining six feet of distance from others, providing proper ventilation, frequent hand washing, mask-wearing, smaller gatherings, and spending more time outdoors if the weather permits. Make sure and let your guests know in advance the protocols you will be following and that they are expected to follow as well.
When in Doubt, Stay Home
In years past, maybe you would still attend Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner if you had a little cold or were slightly under the weather. This year, however, it’s just not worth the risk. Keep in mind in this pandemic-driven world that it’s not only about your health and well-being but also about being respectful of the people around you.
Remember Your Manners
This holiday season is going to be especially challenging for all of us as we continue to manage the pandemic. The best thing we can do is be on our best behavior by practicing patience, acting with civility and respect, and being kind to each other. Don’t be a rogue guest. Avoid discussion about sex, politics, and religion. Don’t ask prying questions. Focus on gratitude and treat others how you want to be treated.
BYOM (Bring Your Own Meal & Mask)
BYOM serves double duty this year, with the ‘M’ meaning meal and mask. In the past, it was customary for guests to bring at least one dish to the holiday gathering. This year, for safety, asking each family attending to bring their own meal is not out of the question. It should also go without saying that each guest should arrive wearing a mask. Hosts need to let their guests know the BYOM rules ahead of time so there is no confusion and awkwardness.
Drive Instead of Fly When Possible
Thanksgiving is typically the busiest travel period of the year for air travel. Although air travel has been deemed rather safe despite COVID concerns, nonetheless it still increases your risk. When possible, turn holiday travel this year into a fun road trip. Consider traveling at off-peak times to avoid contact with the crowd of other holiday travelers.
Be Aware of “Naive Realism”
Psychologists identify this as our tendency to believe that the way we see the world is the way the world really exists. Your view of COVID, politics or anything else is only one of a range of numerous perspectives. When in conversation with others, remember that your view isn’t everyone’s reality.