If you thought supply chain issues were going to be your biggest concern this holiday season, omicron is getting the last laugh: the newest COVID-19 variant has now officially stolen the show. Here's what you should know—and do—before gathering this holiday season.
Domestic living room decorated with Christmas fir tree and holiday decor surrounded by Covid cells
Credit: Getty Images / Yana Iskayeva / Radoslav Zilinsky

The recent and rapid surge in coronavirus cases has caused countless cancellations or closures—from restaurants to professional sporting events, theater performances and even some holiday gatherings and return-to-office plans. So, with that said, will this year's Christmas and New Year's celebrations turn out to be a replay of the 2020 holiday season? Experts seem to be optimistic that it will be different.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the nation's top infectious disease expert, has said publicly that if we utilize the preventive tools available to us, most should be protected. What exactly does that mean? Well, in Fauci's expert opinion that means being vaccinated and boosted, and wearing a mask in congregate settings like airports.

In a speech on Tuesday, December 21, President Biden reinforced Fauci's advice and told America that if you're not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned because you're at a high risk of getting sick. But if you're fully vaccinated, "you have a high degree of protection against severe illness," explained Biden. And while breakthrough infections in vaccinated people will continue, most experts—Fauci included—say your symptoms are likely to be mild, potentially just cold-like.

How does that advice translate to your holiday celebration plans? Should you consider canceling get-togethers? Per Biden's White House speech, if you and those you celebrate with are vaccinated—and particularly if you got your booster—you don't need to cancel your plans. You can, and should, still celebrate the holidays together.

So, how can you still celebrate together this season and keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible? Check these 5 tips off your to-do list:

  1. Get your booster. If it's been 6 or more months since your last COVID-19 vaccine, you can receive your booster.
  2. If you, or your children age 5 and older, are not fully vaccinated, get vaccinated.
  3. Test yourself if you plan to attend indoor celebrations. You can easily search on Google for a place near you to get tested: simply type "COVID test near me" in Google's search bar.
  4. Consider skipping gatherings, if possible, if you're unsure about attendees' vaccination status.
  5. Mask up in public settings, especially indoors.

Oh, and in case you find yourself needing a reminder of what to do this season, cue up the Jimmy Fallon, Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion song, It Was A … (Masked Christmas).

The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change quickly; it's possible that information or data has changed since publication. While EatingWell is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDCWHO and their local public health department as resources.