Winter Holidays

Celebrate Safely - Winter Holidays

The winter holiday season is a time when a lot of families and friends travel to see each other, have large dinners, attend parades, watch or play sports, throw parties and celebrate together. Many of the activities associated with traditional winter holiday celebrations increase your chances of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home and celebrating safely is the best way to stay healthy. If you choose to celebrate with others and/or travel please take the time to inform yourself of the risks. Anyone who is sick or showing any COVID-19 symptoms should not participate in the activities.

The CDC’s most recent guidance states that as cases continue to increase rapidly across the U.S., the safest way to celebrate the 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.

Lower risk activities
Moderate risk activities
Higher risk activities
Considerations for small gatherings of family and friends
How to talk with your friends and family
Steps to take if exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday gathering
Additional Resources
Lower risk activities

Lower risk activities

Celebrating special holiday traditions with only direct members of your household provides the lowest risk. These activities allow you and your family to celebrate safely:

  • Having a small dinner with people who live in your household.
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing traditional recipes with friends and family.
  • Holiday shopping online rather than in person.
  • Exchanging gifts in person with members of your direct household
  • Opening presents virtually with other family members or friends
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home.
  • Attending church services virtually. 
  • Coordinating a virtual visit with Santa for young children.
  • Using non-contact forms of greeting instead of handshakes / hugs.
  • Participating in drive-through holiday displays with members of your household, where you can remain in your vehicle and enjoy the magic of the season from a distance.
Click here to take a Risk Assessment Quiz
Moderate risk activities

Moderate risk activities

Use caution when engaging in these activities and remember to take preventative measures:

  • Having a small dinner with family and friends who live in your community, where physical distancing can be maintained. Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.
  • Exchanging gifts in person with family and friends while physically distanced and masked.
  • Having a shorter event, rather than having activities all day or over multiple days.
  • Hosting a small event that limits food and drink so masks can be worn by those in attendance.
  • Participating in small outdoor events or activities, such as bonfires, with safety precautions in place including physical distancing and masking.
Click here to take a Risk Assessment Quiz
Higher risk activities

Higher risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Going shopping in crowded stores.
  • Visiting Santa in crowded malls or store centers
  • Participating in or being a spectator at crowded events or activities such as parades or parties.
  • Singing/caroling, which produces a high rate of respiratory spread. This includes outdoors.
  • Attending any large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.
  • Attending indoor gatherings of any size where people are not masked or physically distant
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors.
Click here to take a Risk Assessment Quiz
Considerations for small gatherings of family and friends

Considerations for Small Gatherings of Family and Friends :

According to the CDC,  celebrating virtually or with members of your own household 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. 

 Check out our risk assessment quiz to help you consider the level of risk with activities and make a more informed decision about how you can reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.

How to talk with your friends and family

How to talk to friends/family about COVID-19

Each family will need to decide how much risk they are willing to take when making holiday plans. By looking into the current situation in your community and the community you might be considering travel to you can start evaluating the risk involved and what steps you can take to reduce that risk. You should also consider the health and safety of any family members who have a higher risk for serious illness.

When having this conversation with your family, remember to approach others with kindness and empathy. Be transparent about your decision and the reasons that led you to them, and don’t be afraid to address any concerns you may have. Repeat these steps and have frequent conversations with your family about your plans and the expectations that come with any family gathering this holiday season.

Keep a record of everyone who attended your gathering, in case this is needed for contact tracing.

Steps to take if exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday gathering

Steps to take if exposed to COVID-19 during a holiday gathering

The Health Department will identify and contact people who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts to discuss the proper steps they need to take. However, due to the volume of cases and the process of disease reporting, these calls can be delayed by several days. Often, friends, family and employers are aware of a potential exposure before the Health Department. If you learn you have been exposed to COVID-19 at a holiday gathering, while traveling, or at any time this season, immediately quarantine yourself to protect others.

  • Close contact is being within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes. Close contact is also any physical contact, regardless of the length of time spent together.
  • If you have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, self quarantine. The length of quarantine is a minimum of 7-10 days, depending on test results. You may seek testing for COVID-19 on day 5 after your exposure. If you receive a negative test result, you can resume normal activity after 7 days of quarantine. If you are not tested, you must quarantine for 10 days. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department may contact you with further instructions. 
  • Monitor for symptoms, which could include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. 
  • If no symptoms develop, you may resume regular activities after your quarantine. 
  • If symptoms develop, immediately contact the Health Department at 417-874-1211 to coordinate testing. You will be asked to isolate until you are cleared by the Health Department. 
  • If you test positive following a known exposure at a gathering, notify the host and others who attended. They may need to inform other attendees about their possible exposure to the virus. 

Winter holidays are a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.

Use information from the following webpages to decide whether to go on holiday travel:

If you decide to travel, follow these safety measures during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Be aware of COVID-19 rates in the areas you plan to travel.
  • Use private transportation whenever possible.
  • Limit stops during travel.
  • Avoid eating in indoor restaurant spaces – your vehicle or outdoor spaces are safer
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places.
  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about 2 arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.



Additional Resources
Risk assessment quiz