To avoid spreading the H1N1 flu virus rather than holiday cheer--whether you are hosting or attending a party—if you don’t feel well, don’t show up. Instead, hosts can check with a friend to see if they’re willing to host it for you, or contact everyone to give them the option of going elsewhere. Guests can RSVP in the negative. It might feel like you’re being rude, but you’re really giving the gift of good health.
Avoid buffet-style feasts, open bowls of snacks, unwrapped treats or punchbowls. If you’re hosting, get creative. Offer pre-packaged and wrapped snacks and serve meals directly to your guests, reducing the chance that the food may be exposed to everyone at the party. For drinks, be sure to drink from one cup all night by personalizing decorative plastic cups or stirrers.
Keep the hand sanitizer handy and avoid giving kisses. If you can shake hands and then reach for the hand sanitizer, you’ll be protecting yourself and others. If you’re hosting a party, place hand sanitizer decorated in the holiday theme around the space. Next to your sinks place a stack of decorative disposable napkins or a roll of colorful paper towels. Placing boxes of tissues around can also help people to cover their mouths and noses if they feel a sneeze or cough coming on. And be sure to place several trash cans around the room too.
And finally, if you’ve been invited to attend what has become known as a “Swine Flu Party”, please decline. Some people have the idea that exposing a child to the H1N1 virus while it remains relatively mild will give the child immunity if the virus returns in a more virulent form later on. But health officials all around the world have been quick to condemn the idea, largely because so little is known about the virus, so actively encouraging its spread could risk the health of those who are most vulnerable.
Have a happy and healthy holiday season!