COVID-19 has undoubtedly made some of the best parts about the holidays — gathering, sharing a meal with loved ones, volunteering at a local food pantry or upholding traditions like visiting Santa and caroling — more difficult to navigate. Last year, many families forewent their traditional gatherings as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. climbed to a peak, and the ongoing pandemic is still leaving many families to gauge their comfort levels in engaging in holiday plans this season. Our BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is here to help. To ensure that families have access to the fast answers they need to enjoy the holidays with added confidence, we’re providing thousands of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test kits to shelters, food banks and organizations across the U.S. throughout the holiday season. We’re also partnering with the Fraternal Order of Real-Bearded Santas (FORBS) and Macerich Malls to provide our BinaxNOW Self Tests, so not only is your family staying COVID-cautious, but those you come in contact with (including Santa) are as well. Macerich shopping centers across the U.S. will be frequently testing Santa and his holiday staff with BinaxNOW Self Tests throughout the season, so families can capture precious moments. With frequent testing, families can celebrate tree lightings, mall photos with Santa, holiday shopping and gatherings with added peace of mind. Dr. Mary Rodgers, an Abbott scientist and mom, is an infectious disease expert and is on a team that not only created many of our COVID-19 tests, but conducts genome sequencing to confirm our tests can detect the virus, even with variants. Dr. Rodgers is sharing tips on how to gather safely with loved ones this Christmas. BinaxNOW will play a critical role. 'Families, including my own, are looking forward to enjoying our favorite holiday traditions and we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep each other healthy, particularly those that may be more vulnerable like children and elderly family members,' said Mary Rodgers, Ph.D., infectious disease expert and principal scientist at Abbott. 'Having access to rapid tests provides added peace of mind to focus on what's important, which is being together.' For good measure, here are some additional tips on using BinaxNOW to gather with caution in mind this holiday season: 1. Our BinaxNOW Self Test can be used to detect COVID-19 in kids as young as two (with the help of an adult to collect a nasal swab) as well as adults. BinaxNOW can be especially useful when visiting elderly grandparents who may be more at risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Testing all members in attendance can bring added security that COVID-19 won’t go undetected at your holiday gatherings. 2. Our team of scientists has confirmed that both our rapid and PCR COVID-19 tests can detect the Mu and R1, Delta and Omicron variants, giving you and your loved one’s peace of mind even as COVID might change. 3. Serial testing (self-testing frequently on a routine basis) through the holidays can be especially useful for those who attend multiple celebrations like work parties, the in-laws' Christmas, secret Santa functions and even New Year's parties, as they rapidly approach. 4. The holiday season coincides with cold and flu season. Since flu, RSV and COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue and body aches, BinaxNOW can help provide answers in 15 minutes so you can detect COVID-19, and plan which next steps, if any, you need to take to keep your loved ones safe. 5. Self-testing after the holiday season has ended, before heading back to work, school or daily activities is a great way to remain cautious and protect the health of your community. Last holiday season, getting the whole family in one room and first visits to sit on Santa's lap seemed impossible for many. COVID-19 has certainly made the holidays more difficult, but BinaxNOW can rapidly and simply offer the perfect gift — peace of mind. This story was originally published on December 16, 2021 and updated on June 13, 2022.