Some of us have committed to staying home as much as possible, particularly now with the Covid-19 surge. But, there's a good chance may will still venture out do some holiday shopping--at least for a few things. Plus, not all of our local small business owners have an online option, and we want to support them as much as possible. But we want to do it safely.

If you do decide to do some in-store shopping this season, it's imperative that we still do the best we can to keep ourselves, and others, healthy. Here are a few things to keep in mind--best practices, if you will, gathered from local business owners and the team at Consumer Reports:

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Try to go when holiday foot traffic is likely to be slowest. I know it seems hard to avoid during the shopping season, but we can do our best. Some stores may even have "special hours" reserved for those who are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Call before you go and find out.

In some cases, you may be able to make an appointment. Call ahead and see if they offer this. This can cut down on your wait time in the store. That means, less time being exposed. If they don't offer appointments, let them ahead of time you'd like to shop as efficiently as possible. In other words, maybe save any additional sales pitches or drawn-out explanations for another time.

Make sure they offer contactless payment. You're seeing this more and more, thankfully. But if you're especially vulnerable, don't hesitate to call and double check. Now there are apps like Google and/or Apple pay that can help. If you're not familiar, these allow you to simply wave your phone over the "smart reader."

We've heard it a million times, but it bears repeating: Wear a mask. Bring hand sanitizer--make sure it is AT LEAST 60% alcohol to be safe. You may wanna leave gloves at home, though. I know from personal experience--it's easy to touch a surface and feel a false sense of security due to the gloves and end up touching your face. As soon as you get home, thoroughly wash your hands.

Finally, make sure you're ready for safe delivery--whether shopping in-person or online. Just because you're at home, that doesn't mean you're automatically safe. Any time you come in contact with people, you need to be careful. Make sure both you and they are following the CDC's safety precautions--including masks and social distancing.

Consumer Reports recommends opening windows before they arrive and after they leave to keep fresh air circulating thru your home. If you can, stay out of the room entirely while the delivery is being made. Before using your new purchase, thoroughly clean it with soap. Also make sure to clean any surfaces that were touched during the delivery.

I don't know about you, but after shopping I always need to decompress a little. Here's some great ways to do just that:

Nine Ways To Relieve Stress At Home During A Pandemic:

Nine Stress-Relieving Ways To Spend Your Time During a Quarantine



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