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H1N1 Swine Flu Holiday Party Etiquette

How to keep an unwelcome guest -- swine flu -- out of your holiday party.

Saying Good-bye Graciously to an Unwelcome Guest

Some guests may not heed your warnings, and will arrive at your doorstep dressed in their finest flu germs. As host, it is your responsibility to steer them back home, but do so in a manner that shows you are only concerned about their well-being.

You might say something like, "Sarah, I would only say this to a friend, but you look awful and you really need to go home," Post says. Send your friend home with a box of tissues and a mug of hot tea, and promise to check in on her later. "They might be a little offended at first, but hopefully, they'll understand."

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.

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