There’s no way to deny it – 2020 has been a difficult year for families. As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us are at a loss about how or even if we can celebrate the holiday while keeping our families safe. It’s true that this year’s holiday will be different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new traditions and enjoy the holiday. Don’t give up! But keep these tips from the CDC to stay safe and healthy.
Be aware of local restrictions and limits for gatherings. Many states have guidelines for how many people can safely gather, so check to make sure you know how many people you should invite. The fewer households you combine during your event, the less risk you face, so consider only inviting local guests or close family members. If you have a large family with members all over the country, it might be best to celebrate virtually.
Ask all invitees to prepare for the event at least two weeks before Thanksgiving. If possible, it’s best to ask family members to self-isolate as much as possible two weeks before your event. Do your shopping two weeks before the event, and try to cook and freeze as many dishes as you can so that you don’t need to make a “last-minute” run to the store. If you have invited or live with high-risk individuals like elderly family members, consider asking guests to get a test 3-4 days before arriving, and to quarantine after the test.
Know your space and plan accordingly. While food has not been shown to be a factor in the transmission of COVID-19, person-to-person contact in close proximity has been proven to be risky. Measure and assess your entertaining space and arrange things so that your guests can socially distance themselves easily. Ventilation can help remove aerosolized virus particles, so you might want to turn on your ceiling fan and open a window or two. Make sure that your dinner table allows for plenty of space so that guests don’t have to sit too close together while eating unmasked.
Stay educated about infection rates in your community and the communities your guests inhabit. Even between counties in the same state, there is a wide variance between positivity rates and current case trends. If you are or any of your guests live in a place where positivity rates high or going up, consider a virtual event. If you still want to make a big dinner, consider donating meals to elderly community members in your area in a contact-free way.
Follow good hygiene practices while celebrating. Your mom has been telling you this for years, but it’s good advice: wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, or dishes at all times. Request that guests wear a mask except when eating and drinking. Use disposable tablecloths, service ware, and drinking glasses to make clean up safer and easier. Wear a mask while cooking and setting the table, and keep your kitchen clean, clutter-free, and well ventilated.
Make new traditions by getting creative. It’s hard to imagine a Thanksgiving without a loaded buffet table, finger foods, and a crowd around the TV for the big football game, but in 2020, we will need to do things a little differently. If the weather is nice, an outdoor meal or games on the lawn can be fun ways to celebrate. Stories around a cozy fire pit or a cookout on the patio can be just as magical as gathering around the TV. You might even enjoy the “new” Thanksgiving so much that you carry these traditions on even after the pandemic has passed.
It’s true that Thanksgiving 2020 is going to be a little different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t connect with family and friends. Consider enjoying the game virtually, or eat together via Zoom. And remember: if we take the right precautions in 2020, there is a greater chance that we can enjoy a “normal” Thanksgiving in 2021.