At the time of writing, across the UK, for five days over Christmas (23-27 December 2020), we will be able to bubble with two other households on an exclusive basis so that we can make all our Christmases a little bit more merry.

Even in the guidance, there’s lots to unpick. So let’s start at the beginning.

Exclusive

That word is tricky, and if you’re like us, it’s taking the logistics planning of the Olympic Games to make sure that exclusive bubble of three households is actually exclusive.

What does it mean?

It means what it says: exclusive. You can only mingle with three households, not a string of households, even if you only see one of the three households in your bubble, you have to respect the exclusivity of that bubble.

Allow us to illustrate:

There is a family of two parents and their adult children. Let’s call them Will and Brenda, Cameron and Fiona. Cameron and his wife Nicky, live with their two children. Fiona and her husband Paul live with their two children.

Those three families can bubble exclusively.

If Nicky wishes to see her parents anywhere indoors over those five days, she can’t. She’s already in an exclusive bubble. So is Paul. He can’t see his parents or anyone else either anywhere indoors.

To protect Will and Brenda, Nicky and Cameron decide to see his parents one afternoon to swap gifts. Fiona and Paul do the same. Neither Cameron and his family or Fiona and her family actually meet. Does this change things?

No. There are three families in this bubble. Whether or not they all meet up, they chosen their exclusive bubble and for those five days, they have to stick with it.

The only way for Nicky and Cameron to see her parents and Fiona and Paul to see his parent, is for them to meet outside, perhaps at a local park.

Hygienic

It goes without saying that if you’re having family over during those five days, you should give your home a good clean.  

Space

We would recommend you designate one part of your house for your guests. It means you can focus on keeping that area extra clean and sanitised before, during and afterwards, but have less to clean afterwards.

For example, if you have a kitchen diner, perhaps decide to keep everyone in there for your Christmas meal or other gatherings, rather than giving people the free run of your house. It also means you can separate other parts of your home off, if anyone from your family wants to get some space and you can give your guests some space too that’s safe and comfortable.

We would also strongly suggest that you keep a window open, preferably two. We know it’s December, but a good flow of air in the rooms where you’re all gathered can help to disperse the virus - you wanted to wear that Christmas jumper anyway – didn’t you?!  

The Loo

If you have more than one toilet at home, designate one for guests and keep the other one for your family.  

As well as cleaning the toilet and sink, remember to put a different soap out for your guests and a clean towel – and swap them back after their visit, and clean the room. Open the window as well to help with airflow. Clean and sanitise the door handles; perhaps leave the light on so that guests don’t need to have another touch point.

If you have one loo at home, we would suggest you keep two soaps and a hand towel for each family. Apart from anything else, it will help any nervous family members feel calmer and that you’re considering their health and wellbeing and doing all you can to keep them safe and well during their visit.

Healthy

We’ve got a few more tips and suggestions to help you plan how to welcome guests into your home in a way that also acknowledges that this is a Christmas like no other.  

1. Handwashing - it's one of the mainstays of good Covid-19 practices; ensure that everyone washes their hands when they arrive and after dinner and before they leave to minimise any possible exposure from touch.

2. If you set a different table for your guests, that will help keep both families at a distance during dinner. Do you remember the days when people used to seat the kids separately? It’s the same idea.  

3. Before setting the table or tables, wash your hands. Set the guests’ places first (or table) – it’s a great reason to use place names this year!

4. Provide washable or disposable napkins to help guests wipe hands and face after eating.  They can be left on plates

5. Set out a tray of glasses and mugs that your guests will use so that they can handle them, rather than you or another family member constantly being the handler!

6. Use a teapot! This way you can handle the teapot – or cafetiere or coffee jug – but you don’t need to handle individual spoons or mugs. Put milk in a jug and sugar in a pot with spoons for your guests. It will also add a bit of style but reduce the handling and touching points between families.

7. Let one person from each family clear the plates. Nominate who is the “Mother Ship”, the person in charge of siding the table and only stack plates between families. This minimises touch. Perhaps you could have a race to see who can clear their plates the quickest.

8. Have one wine pourer. As a good rule of thumb, if you brought the wine, you’re the pourer. If your father-in-law brought the wine, he can pour it out. If you bought two of the same bottles, open them both and give one to your guests to share and one for your clan.  If there’s one pourer, serve to all those partaking at a distance. See who can do the best Oliver Twist Can I have some more; with a well-practised socially distanced stretch of arm and glass!

9. Crackers – pull with your own family to minimise touching or do the Mexican Stand-off Cracker pull – standing and distanced for extra dramatic bang or whimper, depending on the cracker…

10. If you plate up Christmas dinner, have one person do it per family. If it’s a free for all, consider still having one person do it, rather than passing dishes of food around – perhaps a different “Mother Ship” for each family. It’s something you could even get the teens or tweens to do, if they’re up for it.

Eat, drink and be merry. Have a good Christmas and the days around it. We’re all going to have to put in a few extra measures to make the big day go with a swing but when you’re surrounded by the love of your family, it’s got to be worth it!

Merry Christmas to you all from everyone at Tidy Green Clean.

Guidelines:

England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-a-christmas-bubble-with-friends-and-family/making-a-christmas-bubble-with-friends-and-family

Scotland : https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-festive-period/#:~:text=Between%2023%20%E2%80%93%2027%20December%2C%20you,people%20counted%20in%20the%20bubble.

Wales: https://gov.wales/making-christmas-bubble-friends-and-family

NI: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you


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