What's The Risk Of A Small Holiday Party?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 7:23 AM, Dec 03, 2020

As the holiday season begins, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19 as you make plans to celebrate. 

We asked the experts, what’s the risk of having a small holiday or New Year's Eve party with ten people or less?

Their take: even a small gathering is high risk.

"Unfortunately, although we think these small groups of less than 10 seem to be very low risk, the risk goes up once we're inside, especially with colder weather. And we have absolutely seen outbreaks among small groups of family for birthday parties or other events already. This is something we have to weigh how much we want to spend time together against the risk of what happens if someone shows up with COVID and the rest of the people there get exposed," Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine, said.

"Even over the summer, when we did have the ability to have small gatherings, we did them outside. Now, that same 10 gathering today is indoors. The higher incidence [rate] makes that just way, way riskier than it was two months ago." Dr. Irfan Hafiz, infectious disease physician and Northwest Region chief medical officer at Northwestern Medicine, said.

"Virtual gatherings are your best, most effective, safest solution. As we know, you can't get COVID over the computer," Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said.  

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit