Small holiday gatherings of immediate family members or close friends are now possible if everyone has been fully vaccinated. It would be even better if everyone has had a booster shot, especially those who are immunocompromised or have comorbidity. This was the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci on December 1 on CNN as the COVID-19 Omicron variant was detected in the U.S.
Experts agreed in an NPR post on December 4. For even greater security, everyone must take a rapid antigen test on the day of the gathering and before coming together. This will ensure that no one is an asymptomatic carrier of breakthrough infection. According to the government, private health insurance will reimburse the cost of antigen tests done at home. There are also free tests at health clinics for those who are uninsured.
After more than a year of separation, it is a good time to celebrate the holidays with loved ones. It will be best to have the family gathering separate from that for friends. The number of people will be fewer, and everyone will have more in common. Before sending out an invitation, prepare the home for the coming guests.
Check-Up and Clean Up
Carefully inspect your home for any necessary repairs. Do these early and make sure that there is nothing unsightly left for visitors to see.
During the pandemic, staying home without visitors may have created some sloppiness in household routines. Clutter may have built up in the living room and dining room, especially if these doubled up as work areas for those working from home. The kitchen may be messy, as well, since all meals are prepared at home. Pick up things that are not in place and restore order. It will then be much easier to do a thorough cleanup.
Vacuum everything. If your sofa has a removable cover, wash it, or change it to a fresh one. If not, simply vacuum the sofa and artfully drape a colorful throw over it. Clean all windows and blinds. If you use curtains, change to fresh ones. Do not forget to clean the bathroom, as well, and change to a fresh shower curtain.
Make sure the windows can be opened if the weather permits. Add portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that are adequate for the size of each room. Ensure that these are placed where people will congregate, such as the living room, dining room, and kitchen.
If you have an outdoor kitchen or patio with a fire pit or fireplace, people can gather there when the weather is not too chilly. Make these presentable, as well.
Spruce Up with Decorations
Buying a large Christmas tree can seem overwhelming at this time. Some nurseries sell tiny tabletop trees that are only between one to two feet tall. You can decorate fresh garlands and wreaths and add these throughout the house and outside, too. Firefly lights will make these look magical. Potted flowering poinsettias will add color to strategic spots.
Decorations bring on the festive spirit and build a hopeful outlook for the coming year. Naturally scented candles bring a warm glow to the surroundings. An arrangement of fresh fruits and unshelled nuts evokes abundance and gratitude.
Prepare the Kitchen
Nothing beats home-cooked goodies, so the kitchen must be up to the challenge, whether indoors or outdoors. Check on all kitchen appliances to ensure that they are in good working order and can accommodate cooking for many. There must be enough countertops for all the food preparation and to hold all the finished dishes. If the current countertopsdo not suffice, folding tables can be added temporarily to the kitchen. These can be put away afterward.
The refrigerator and freezer must be able to accommodate all ingredients. It is best to have a separate ice machine that produces odorless ice for drinks because ice from the freezer absorbs the odor of meats and seafood. Scotsman ice maker parts are available as needed.
Present a Warm Welcome
Your guests must feel welcome even before entering your home. Give your mailbox a makeover. Repaint it and add some outdoor holiday dÃ©cor and lights. Use decorative outdoor lights that automatically get charged with solar power during the day and turn on at night. If you have perennial bushes and trees, string outdoor firefly lights around these, as well.
Make sure the path to your front door is cleared out and well-lighted. If there is paving, make sure that no protrusions can cause someone to trip. If there is snow or ice at the time of your get-together, ensure that the path is not slippery. Shovel away the snow and sprinkle sand over ice. Be ready with a welcome drink as your guests cross your threshold.