It’s hard to believe less than a year ago your practice was decking the halls, getting ready for your end-of-year holiday party. Little did you know that 2020 would bring an end to crowded banquet hall celebrations packed with people without face coverings. The good news is you CAN still celebrate the holidays and your accomplishments with your practice this year — it just takes a little foresight, creative ideas, and careful risk assessment of your local COVID levels!
CDC Offers Risk Assessment for Your Holiday Party
Because there are a number of variables that will contribute to the virus spreading at your social gathering, planning your practice holiday party this year requires you review the COVID-19 rates in your community. To protect your staff and other attendees from COVID-19, use the CDC’s Events and Gatherings Readiness and Planning Tool for guidance on weighing ideas for your holiday celebration.
The big decision you need to make is what type of holiday celebration will you have this year? The CDC outlines a hierarchy of risk levels associated with different gathering types. Let’s take a look at a few of these and explore ways you can tailor your practice holiday party so you can still have a blast while staying safe.
Creative ‘Lowest Risk’ Holiday Party Ideas
Your best bet for the lowest risk holiday celebration are virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings. By now your practice is likely acclimated to Zoom conferences, so why not host a virtual holiday party?! There are a number of ways you can encourage attendance and make it fun:
- Send care packages. From champagne to cookie decorating kits to themed gift baskets, you can send care packages to employees’ homes ahead of time and have everyone open them simultaneously.
- Games and prizes. Get creative with games and prizes to add excitement to your virtual holiday party. Create a trivia game that revolves around your practice, initiate a home scavenger hunt, have a holiday hat contest, and offer electronic gift cards as prizes.
- Include family. Because the event is virtual you don’t have to worry about spreading germs! Open your holiday celebration to employee’s families and children, too!
Tips for a Holiday Celebration With Slightly ‘More Risk’
If you’ve had enough Zoom and are itching for some real face time socializing with your practice peers, a small outdoor gathering is a great solution to minimize the risk. Make sure everyone comes from the local area, remains at least 6 feet apart, and wears face coverings. Here are some ideas to make your outdoor holiday party a success:
- Spark a fire. Depending on your climate, spending a few hours outside may not sound so appealing. To heat up your celebration host a bonfire or set up smaller fire pits where folks can congregate.
- Give gifts that warm. If you are going to give your employees gifts this year, consider ones they can use at your outdoor party. Think sweatshirts, jackets, or stadium blankets branded with your practice logo.
- Offer hot beverages. Set up a hot beverage station with coco, coffee, and tea with disposable cups. Designate one or two people to distribute the beverages to minimize how many hands come in contact.
Safe Practices for a ‘Higher Risk’ Celebration
A large in-person gathering with out-of-town guests, no face coverings or social distancing is the absolute highest risk type and not recommended. A medium size in-person gathering poses a higher risk than outdoors, but you can minimize these risks if you enforce face coverings, ask everyone to remain at least 6 feet apart, and take these precautions:
- Keep it small. Having a smaller gathering this year might be what your practice needs to do to both celebrate your annual accomplishments and also minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Opting for a staff-only party is one way you can minimize attendees and reduce costs.
- If you opt for an indoor gathering, you can minimize your risk of infection with good ventilation. Crack open the windows and doors as much as possible, and run your exhaust fans in the restrooms.
- Ban out of town guests. If you do host an in-person holiday party, remember that your infection risk level will increase with out-of-town guests who come from areas with higher COVID-19 cases. You can either ban all out-of-town guests, or just from towns with higher community levels of COVID-19 than your own.
- Keep it short. Your practice holiday party doesn’t have to last into the wee hours of the morning this year. A longer gathering poses a higher risk than a shorter one, so limit your party’s duration to just a couple of hours. Or, consider closing the practice for lunch one afternoon and have a short, simple celebration. To make the day seem more festive hang decorations and host contests throughout the day.
Skip the Gathering with These Alternatives
If you opt not to host a holiday party this year, there are other ways you can band together as a practice to serve your local community or simply reward your employees for a year well done:
- Choose a charity. Initiate a community service holiday outreach. You can collect food for a local pantry; hats, scarves, and gloves for a homeless shelter; or toys for local children in need or your neighborhood children’s hospital. Whatever your mission, employees can get involved in many ways from setting up collection boxes at your practice, reaching out to the community for support, serving as a liaison to the organization, and dropping off the collected items. These tasks can be done with electronic communication and minimal contact, aside from the actual drop off/collection of goods.
- Give bonuses. Whether you can’t fathom the idea of yet another Zoom conference or an in-person party just isn’t feasible for your practice this year, don’t despair! Save the money you’d spend on catering costs and spread it to your staff instead. After a long stressful year a holiday bonus will provide some financial relief and your staff will likely be just as happy as if you planned a bigger event.
Follow Health Guidance for Your Holiday Party
Before planning your practice’s holiday celebration, be sure to check with your state and local department of health regulations for holiday gatherings in your community. You will also have to assess your community’s COVID-19 levels to determine how many people can attend or if you need to postpone due to rising cases in your area. Whatever you decide for your practice holiday celebration, keep infection prevention at the forefront of your party planning:
- Limit your gathering size based on your current state and local laws and regulations.
- Have attendees wear masks and follow social distancing practices of keeping 6 feet apart.
- Provide sanitizer and urge staff to stay home if they are not feeling well.
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