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12/14/20blog post

Is it safe to exchange gifts this holiday season?

it can be safe to exchange gifts with family and friends as long as it is done with some forethought

preteen showing a holiday gift on a virtual callThis time of year typically goes hand-in-hand with family, friends and fun festivities as we celebrate the holiday season. But, this year will be unlike any December we’ve experienced before as we continue to live with COVID-19.

As cases continue to increase across Ohio, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the safest way to recognize the winter holidays is to celebrate at home with the people you live with. So, while gathering in-person with family and friends may not happen this year, according to J. Michael Klatte, MD, chief, division of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s, it is still safe to celebrate by exchanging gifts with loved ones.

Is it safe to exchange physical gifts this year?

Yes, it can be safe to exchange gifts with family, friends and loved ones as long as it is done with some forethought. While it’s technically possible for COVID-19 to be spread by touching a surface containing the virus, this is not the main way that the virus spreads. However, studies have shown that COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24-hours. If you are ill during the holidays this year, but still want to give gifts to your loved ones, then ordering presents online and having them shipped directly to their homes would be the safest option.

What about food? Is it safe to exchange baked goods?

Holiday cookie exchanges are an annual tradition for many people, but this year it may be best to limit the size of your cookie exchange group as much as possible – especially if you don’t know how compliant your potential fellow cookie swappers have been with recommendations for masking, social distancing, etc. If you feel compelled to exchange baked goods with your neighbors and friends this year, safe options could include a drive-by exchange or coordinated doorstep drop-offs.

What can we do to make this season of giving safe for everyone?

As recently recommended for Thanksgiving this year, it is recommended to limit holiday gatherings to as few overall people and as few different households as possible. Naturally, do not host or attend any holiday gatherings if you or any of the hosts/guests may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Making hard choices to be apart from loved ones during the holidays this year, may mean that you can spend many more years with them in the future.

J. Michael Klatte, MD

division chief infectious disease
view full bio

updates on COVID-19

Please use our coronavirus information hub for resources and answers to frequently asked questions about Dayton Children's response to COVID-19. You can also call our COVID-19 parent hotline at 1-888-746-KIDS (5437) from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm for additional questions.