It’s turkey season! But this year, due to the COVID-19 environment we’re experiencing, the holiday festivities will look a bit different than before. With some precautionary measures and careful planning, though, you can celebrate Thanksgiving in the era of the coronavirus without compromising on your health or safety. Here’s how:
Planning a Thanksgiving dinner
If you plan on hosting an in-person Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s best to take steps to ensure your day is as safe as possible.
First, consider hosting your dinner outside. If the weather is still relatively mild for the holiday and you have the space for it, moving a Thanksgiving dinner outdoors greatly reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus, according to the CDC. If an outdoor dinner isn’t possible, make sure your home is well-ventilated during your Thanksgiving dinner by opening some windows and doors.
Second, try to limit the number of attendees. While the CDC does not currently impose a limit of the number of attendees at any indoor gathering, many state and local laws or guidelines do. You can review Utah's local guidelines here, and other state and local laws here.
It’s also important to consider your guests’ hometowns when drawing up an invite list. The CDC recommends keeping this year’s Thanksgiving dinners to local guests only. The risk of infection increases when there are guests in attendance who are coming from areas currently experiencing an outbreak.
Finally, while traditional Thanksgiving dinners can last for hours, the CDC cautions that longer gatherings pose a greater risk than shorter dinners. You can cut down on the hours your guests linger around the table by adding a finish time to your invitations.
Attending and hosting a dinner
Whether attending a Thanksgiving dinner or welcoming dinner guests into your own home, follow the CDC’s general guidelines for reducing the risk of contagion.
Set up a sanitizing station for guests to use upon arrival or offer to bring one to your host’s home. Include an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for guests’ personal items that may land on the dinner table, such as phones and purses.
If possible, space the seating so there are several feet between each chair.
It can also be a good idea to serve individualized portions instead of passing around a large platter for the entire table to share.
Finally, don’t forget to follow basic hygiene practices at Thanksgiving dinner, such as covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow and scrubbing your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food.
According to the CDC, anyone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be near others, currently has symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or is considered high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should not attend any in-person holiday celebrations.
Here’s how to keep the holiday festive with a virtual celebration:
- Plan a shared dinner experience in advance. The next-best thing to sitting around a Thanksgiving dinner table together with your loved ones is sharing the same dinner experience on Thanksgiving Day. Sync your dinner plans with the plans of the people with whom you’d be sharing the dinner in non-COVID times. This can include a shared menu or even lighting the same scented candles.
- Prep together. Video chat with your virtual guest list as you all prep your Thanksgiving dinners in your own homes.
- Send care packages. If you usually host a dinner, you can drop off a basket of Thanksgiving treats at each of your virtual guests’ doorsteps.
- Video chat your “shared” Thanksgiving dinners. Eat your Thanksgiving dinners at the same time as your virtual guests. To make it special, you can create a program for the evening with highlights, like opening and closing remarks, a shared song and a short slideshow of family pictures.
Wasatch Peaks wishes you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving.