H1N1 Swine Flu Holiday Party Etiquette
How to keep an unwelcome guest -- swine flu -- out of your holiday party.
The Correct Way to Greet Your Guests
Hugs, kisses, and handshakes are wonderful ways to say hello and express
that you are happy to see your guests. These expressions of welcome are also
wonderful ways for swine flu germs to spread. As a result, many people today
are avoiding close social contact. "To a degree, many of us already are
practicing what I might call 'social distancing light,'" Schaffner says. "They
are being more cautious and more cognizant."
When avoiding hugs and handshakes, be mindful about providing an
explanation. "You're choosing to interact socially with people, so if you're
not going to shake you need to say with words what the handshake would have
said: Sorry, I'm off handshakes for the season, but it's really nice to meet
you," Post says.
If you do shake hands, clean up discreetly afterward. "Wash your hands after
the contact," says Aaron Glatt, MD, president and CEO of New Island Hospital in
Beth Page, Long Island, N.Y. "Try not to touch your eyes
or mouth, which could transmit infection."
Holiday Party Accessories
This season, the must-have holiday party accessories are hand sanitizer,
tissues, and personal towels. "Hand sanitizer is going to be your best bet in a
social situation," says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, clinical associate professor at
Emory University School of Medicine, past president of the American College of
Physicians, and a member of the Adult Immunization Advisory Board.
When you're setting the table, hand sanitizer makes the perfect finishing
touch. Add ribbons and other decorative touches to make the bottle more
festive. "It doesn't have to be boring," Fryhofer says. "You can find hand
sanitizer in all colors. You can probably find one that matches your decor."
Encourage your guests to use hand sanitizer after shaking hands and before
Place tissue boxes in strategic locations throughout the room. You might
even carry a small pack around with you. Then when you see someone sneezing,
you will have a tissue ready to offer.
Rather than have guests share the same hand towel in the bathroom, buy a
stack of inexpensive washcloths or disposable towels. Place a little basket
next to them with one used washcloth or crumpled towel inside to show your
guests what you want them to do.
How to Serve Your Guests
While preparing food, remember to follow the rules of good hygiene. "As a
host, you should always wash your hands before setting the table or serving any
food," Post says. "It's so easy to forget that when you're in your own
Although most flu virus transmission is caused by close contact with someone
who is sick, it doesn't hurt to be on the safe side when serving food.
Instead of putting out large bowls of food for your guests to share, offer them
single-serving portions. Fill up little shot glasses with nuts, or serve
individual, bite-sized foods such as mini quiches or pizzas. "One of the
stylish things now is putting hors d'oeuvres in a little spoon," Fryhofer says.
"It might be a good idea this season to spoon it rather than finger it to keep
your hands out of your mouth."