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How To Discuss Holiday Gatherings During COVID: An Etiquette Expert Weighs In

BOSTON (CBS) - Whether it's a wild goose chase for rapid testing kits or agonizing over guests' vaccination status - many families are tackling some tricky conversations about Christmas plans just days away.

"We were really looking forward to this holiday season. Now with the omicron variant, everyone needs to pause," said Jodi R. R. Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

'Manners matter, but it's safety first.' That's the free advice Smith is gifting her family and friends, and her phone has been ringing a lot.

"Nobody wants to give COVID as a holiday gift, and no one wants to be the Typhoid Mary of the holiday season, that somebody came to my open house and had a couple of cookies and then went to the house down the block and now everybody is sick," she said.

If the size of your celebration is changing, how do you say so? Smith advises less is more.

"If I'm the host and I'm canceling, I will say 'I would have loved to see you, we simply can't do this. We're canceling the party we'll let you know when it's rescheduled.'"

Don't leave room for debate. Don't reach for the latest data. Remind your loved ones that this change of heart comes from a place of caring.

"I cannot take the risk. I will not put you in the risky situation of potentially giving you something. You just say it with love," she added.

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