Keeping Safety on the Table: A Guide to navigating Thanksgiving During Covid-19

Thanksgiving is typically the busiest traveling holiday. It’s the one time of year where nearly everyone gathers with all their friends and family and shares a meal. But with Covid-19 cases on the rise throughout the country, many are having to rethink their Thanksgiving plans. With small household gatherings being one of the main culprits in the rise of cases, the CDC strongly recommends that people stay home and only celebrate with members of their own household.

That doesn’t mean this Thanksgiving has to be a wash. With some simple and creative planning, you can still carry on some traditions and make long-lasting memories with your loved ones.

A guide for a virtual Thanksgiving

Many people have opted to take their turkey day virtual this year. Over the last eight months, we have all experienced the best and worst of being virtual. Here are some tips to keep your virtual Thanksgiving run smoothly, keep the tradition going, and be enjoyable for everyone.

  • Keep Time in Mind. Be sure to set a clear time for everyone to join. Connecting with your relatives that live across the country? Keep the time difference in mind.
  • Add a little pizzazz. Even if you are celebrating via zoom, make it feel special. Add some decorations, a simple table setup, or add a fun Thanksgiving themes Zoom background.
  • Keep your traditions alive. Do you always go around the table and say what you are grateful for? Does your grandmother always lead the prayer or toast? Do you love watching your father carve the turkey? You can still do this! Whatever your tradition, plan a time for everyone to log-on together and do it virtually!
  • Plan a drop-off potluck. Missing your mom’s sweet potatoes pie or your aunt’s green bean casserole this year? Well, if you live nearby, plan a drop-off potluck.
  • Cook together. You usually help your mom cook, but you are not going home this Thanksgiving. But you can still cook together. Just be sure to share your recipes ahead of time and then make a plan to cook together.
  • Have fun! Make your time together fun and entertaining. Plan a game or activity that everyone can join in on. Here are ideas.

A guide for an in-person gathering

If you opted for a household gathering, here are some tips that can help make gathering a little bit safer for everyone.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
  • Keep it small and short. Keep your guest list as small as possible. Some states have even recommended parties be no larger than 10 people to limit the risk. Also, rethink your guest arrival time and reduce the amount of time you would ordinarily have visitors.
  • Set some ground rules. Let your guest know the safety measure you will be taking so they know what to expect when they arrive. You can even set up a sanitizing station with a list of your house rules and some extra masks by your front door. You may even want to provide them with a self-screening checklist for the two weeks before your Thanksgiving gathering.
  • Wear your mask. Many people get a false sense of safety when in someone’s home and become lax with mask-wearing. But this is the best line of defense in keeping everyone safe. Be sure to remind everyone of the safety rules.
  • Maintain your distance. Arranging people around the table by household and keep those who don’t live together 6 feet apart—especially while eating—will help keep the risk low. 
  • Keep the fresh air flowing.  If it’s possible to entertain outdoors, this is your best option. If the weather does not permit for an outdoor feast, be sure to keep your windows open for better ventilation.
  • Safer Server. Reserve one person to do all the serving. This will help reduce the risk by avoiding everyone touching the serving utensils. Still remind everyone to wash their hands and keep sanitizer easily accessible.

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