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Tips For Safe Holiday Gift Buying & Giving During COVID-19

While COVID-19 has changed many things about how we celebrate the holidays this year, it’s possible to still practice our favorite holiday traditions like gift-giving, while also keeping ourselves and each other safe.

Here are tips for keeping you and your loved ones safe while you’re buying and giving gifts this season.

1. Shop online.

We know that rates of COVID-19 transmission are highest in crowded indoor spaces, where there is no natural air ventilation and less space to practice physical distancing. So, this year it’s safer to skip the in-person shopping experience and opt for online shopping instead. Many online stores have simple return policies, especially during and after the holidays – don’t forget the gift receipt!

2. Use curbside pick-up.

Another way to limit your exposure to COVID-19 is to purchase gifts from a store that offers curbside pick-up. With this option, you can select and pay for your gifts online, and pick them up outside the store. This decreases your contact with other people, lets you avoid contact with hard surfaces like shopping cart handles and credit card machines, and eliminates the need to spend time indoors in a public space. Typically, curbside pick-up is a free alternative to shipping directly to your house.

3. Avoid shopping during peak hours.

If you do opt to go into a store to purchase gifts, avoid shopping at peak hours to limit your exposure to other people. Online sites, including Google, show the peak hours for many businesses. It’s wise to research this information in advance so you can avoid shopping during the busiest windows of time.

Also, many stores offer early-morning hours for seniors, people with pre-existing health conditions and other populations that are at a higher risk of COVID-19.

4. Shop outdoors (and support local business).

Since the rates of COVID-transmission are 20 times higher indoors than outdoors, another tip to staying safe while gift shopping this year is to purchase gifts from sellers whose businesses are outdoors. Venues like open air local markets offer natural ventilation and more space to physically distance from other shoppers.

5. Use stores with stringent COVID-19 precautions.

Another important consideration if you plan to shop in-person is to only shop at stores that adhere to strict COVID-19 precautions. Your risk of contracting the virus is lower when you shop at stores that limit the number of people allowed into the building at a time, frequently disinfect hard surfaces, have adequate ventilation, and ensure that customers adhere to CDC guidelines, including physical distancing and the use of face coverings. Some clothing stores have even implemented dressing room precautions, such as steaming clothes after they’ve been tried on by a customer.

6. Do a contact-free gift exchange.

Another way to stay safe while gift-giving this year is to do a contact-free gift exchange. You can leave gifts on the recipient’s doorstep, decide on a fun neutral pick-up spot or mail the gift directly to the recipient’s home. And later you can enjoy watching them open their gifts on a video call.

7. Consider e-gifts.

One of the safest ways to buy and give gifts this holiday season is to opt for electronic gifts (e-gifts). This option lets you buy and give gifts online, and lets the recipient receive their gift online, so both of you can avoid close contact with each other and avoid contact with any mail delivery personnel. E-gifts can include things like gift cards to their favorite store or coffee shop. This is also a great way to support local businesses throughout the holiday season.

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