This holiday season will be festive as fully vaccinated families, and friends can get together in their homes without masks. This was the message of presidential adviser and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci on November 21. The requirement for full vaccination must be strictly followed because indoor holiday gatherings mean eating together. It is too risky to be with unvaccinated people in such situations as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that there are 15,000 more COVID-19 deaths in the United States in 2021 compared to 2020. The authorities are still preparing for a possible winter surge among the unvaccinated.
If close family members cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition such as a severe allergy, you can request or arrange for them to be tested a day before the gathering. They must also stay home after the test and before the event to ensure that they will not get infected in between.
Even fully vaccinated people must get the available booster shot to get more protection. On November 19, a vaccine advisory panel of the CDC unanimously recommended that all fully vaccinated adults get a booster dose after a minimum of six months. They strongly advised that people aged 50 and older must get the booster. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky approved the recommendation. There is enough time before the Christmas and New Year celebrations to get the booster shot and to prepare for the parties.
Food and Drinks for All
Before planning the menu ask your guests individually about any food allergies or special diets. You may not be aware of any dietary changes they made during the pandemic. This will ensure that you have food that is safe for them. For instance, if you have a vegan guest, have one or two vegan dishes that non-vegans will also enjoy while having meat dishes for other guests. You can have pasta with a sauce of fresh tomatoes and roasted vegetables as well as a hearty salad with a vegan dressing. Pair this with roasted chicken, roast beef, or fork-tender ribs.
Another option is to have a potluck party and ask each guest to bring his or her favorite dish. This way, each guest will bring food that he or she can safely eat. As the host, you must serve food that everyone can eat. At least you will have to prepare less food.
Make sure that your dessert is safe for your guests with special dietary needs, as well, and delectable for everyone. You can have a variety of fresh fruits on skewers. Prepare a rich chocolate dip for those who can afford the calories. Others can just enjoy the refreshing fruits as-is.
Also, do the same with drinks. Have non-alcoholic drinks and sugar-free drinks available. Set a bar with a wide variety of mixers so guests can make their drinks. Include fresh fruits and a blender. Having a Scottsman ice machine will ensure that your ice does not smell or taste like the other food in your freezer.
Make sure to ask your guests about their food restrictions well in advance. You will need some time to figure out how to prepare a menu if, for instance, you will be having someone who is a vegan along with a carnivore, someone on the Keto diet, another on a low-carb diet, and a person with diabetes. Figuring it out can be fun, though.
Do not forget to have a camera or phone tripod for group photos. Decorate a wall as an Instagram-worthy holiday-themed backdrop. Make sure that the decorations are placed high enough to be seen even with several people posing before it, but not too high to be out of camera range. You must also ensure that the area has good lighting. You can purchase two ring lights with floor stands to be positioned on both sides of the setup. Decorate all other parts of the house so that guests can take photos of themselves everywhere and still carry the theme. Take candid shots of your guests because these make the best memories.
Set up a video camera that will be running during the party. Position it where everyone will congregate. Inform your guests about the camera. Send each one a copy of the video afterward.
Have fun looking back at your old photos together. Bring out old photo albums. If it is a family gathering, ask other family members to bring their old photo albums. You can also prepare a digital slideshow that you can all watch on your big television screen.
In this pandemic, gathering family and friends is a balm to the spirit. It will bring strength to face the coming year.