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How to Avoid the Flu without Avoiding the Party

Jan 21, 2013 08:32PM ● By August Schwartz

Sure, this isn’t Hollywood, but we’d care to bet that an awards dinner has graced your calendar recently, and where it hasn’t, other equally glamorous affairs certainly have.

Then again, while we fear flu season in black tie attire, we wouldn’t want to brave it during the season of shore parties either. No—there’s never a good time to stay cooped up at home, hiding out from the germs, is there? Not with all the fabulous parties there are to attend. Oh, the life of a socialite.

At any party you come in contact with handshakes, kisses, railings, public spaces, ATMs, and more—and the flu germs spread like wildfire.

So what is a girl (or guy) to do? Well we have a few tricks up our sleeve that we’ve been using to avoid germs without avoiding the parties. And since we haven’t missed one yet, (excuse us while we go knock on wood), we think this list is a gold mine.


• You probably knew that a lot of herbs have immune-boosting properties, and that eating them helps you fight illness, but did you also know that their germ-fighting abilities work topically as well? That’s right. Most “essential oils” are naturally antibacterial, including lavender, oregano, thyme, lemon, peppermint, and more, and they can be found at Whole Foods, GNC, and most places vitamins are sold. In oil form, the herbs can be mixed with water to create a scented anti-bacterial, anti-viral spray. (The anti-viral officially makes it more effective than a commercial gel or lotion, which we’ll get to later). Simply add about 25 drops to a cup of water in a spray bottle, and spray away. The mix works and smells like a typical body spray, but will fight germs over your entire body. Mix scents and herbs to find one you like. This is a great, natural alternative to anti-bacterial lotions and gels. We recommend starting with lavender.

• Take a napkin to the elevator. And let someone else push the “one.” Did you know that buttons on an elevator harbor 40 times more germs than a public toilet seat? Pretty disturbing, huh? And the “one” button takes the cake for dirtiest piece of elevator real estate. We don’t often run into elevators at local events, but when we do—even just coming up from a parking garage—we’re sure to let out neighbor punch the buttons, and keep a napkin (or elbow sleeve at least) on hand for occasions when we do.

• While you’re at it, use that napkin at the ATM. They’re often unavoidable when we’re at a cash bar, but they’re coated in germs. Steer clear, or at the very least, use a hanky.

• Ohhh the beloved coat check. Our best friend, but during flu season, a foe. So many germs are packed into that one room, just waiting to latch onto your coat. Trick? Turn your coat inside out. Sure, it may seem that this puts the germs closer to the part of the coat that touches your body, but consider this—which part of your coat typically touches your face? (Your nose and mouth, after all, are the entry ways for germs.) Whether your sleeve, or your lapel, the outside of your coat is the area that will most definitely reach your face. While you’re at it, stick your scarf deep into your coat sleeve, to shield it not only from getting lost, but coming in contact with germs.

• And speaking of your mouth as the entry point for germs, when you’re hugging a friend, do it with your mouth closed. A tight-lipped smile can go a long way during a winter hug—and you can save your “hello”s for when your face is at a safer distance. When kissing hello, stick to the cheek. It still poses a germ risk, but it’s a much safer bet.

• It goes without saying, but when has that ever stopped us from saying it? Wash your hands. Frequently. And use a napkin to turn the water off. Everyone avoids the bathroom door handle, and for good reason. But what about that faucet handle? Sure, the people using it are washing their hands, but what do you think their hands are like when they first turn the faucet on? Plus, the handles are always a little bit wet, and that is a breeding ground for germs.

• Don’t eat from communal food bowls. Only serve yourself food that’s dished with a spoon.

• Get a good anti-bacterial lotion, and take it with you everywhere. And when we say lotion, we mean lotion—not the gels or sanitizers. Hand gels and sanitizers are a great tool for cleaning your germ-ridden hands—and if you kept one in your car for the end of the night, we wouldn’t blame you—but they dry out your hands, and amidst a room full of shakers, you’ll want to be moisturized. For Pete’s sake don’t apply each time you shake someone’s hand. It’s rude, and people will notice. Instead, apply before you enter the event—as long as it’s on your skin, it should fight germs.

Do you have any other tips? We’d love to hear them! Comment here or on Facebook, or shoot us an email at