Safe, Socially Distanced Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19
Around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and introduced a “new normal” of working from home, diligently wearing face coverings and frequent hand-washing. It’s also significantly changed the outlook for the coming holiday season.
According to top doctors, there’s no way to host a totally safe Thanksgiving during COVID-19 – at least, not in the traditional sense of a large, indoor family celebration. But if you’re still intent on getting together this holiday season, you can take steps to lower the risk of celebrating on Nov. 26.
1. Celebrate Virtually
Amid the escalating COVID-19 crisis, public health experts from Dr. Anthony Fauci to CDC officials have cautioned against in-person gatherings. That’s especially true if the people you want to invite are older, have underlying health issues or would have to travel from out of town to attend.
A digital celebration doesn’t have to be dull. Using a service like Evite, design and send an on-trend invitation. Ask invitees to not only RSVP, but to also share a favorite holiday recipe anyone can make for dinner. As the organizer, you can compile all the recipes into a list and email them to your guests. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, enjoy a shared meal.
2. Take Things Outdoors
By this point in the pandemic, it’s probably been several months since the last time you saw most of your family in person. If you have your heart set on planning an in-person get-together, be smart about where you host it. The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through microscopic aerosol particles we release when we talk or laugh — both of which are in ample supply when most families get together. These droplets can linger for as long as three hours, especially in indoor settings with inadequate ventilation.
Because fresh air is continuously moving and can disperse infected droplets, moving the gathering outdoors is the safest way to enjoy the holiday this year. While this may be challenging, depending on the autumn weather where you live, the added safety is worth the extra effort. For example, if you expect it to be cold or rainy, rent a large tent and a few heat lamps. Provide extra blankets for guests to bundle up if things get chilly.
3. Plan Your Guest List Carefully
Keeping your in-person gathering small is ideal. Indeed, the safest option for Thanksgiving during COVID-19 is to limit your guest list only to people in your immediate household. If your family members would have to travel from other states or cities, encourage them to stay home — especially if they’re coming in from a hotspot that doesn’t have a mask mandate. Capping your get-together at 10 or fewer guests will allow you to give everyone more space around the dinner table.
4. Clean Thoroughly
You’re probably already cleaning and sanitizing more carefully than usual to keep everyone in your home healthy. For extra safety on Thanksgiving during COVID-19, disinfect high-touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, countertops and faucets. Do a comprehensive deep cleaning, both before any guests arrive and after they leave. Ask attendees to clean their hands with hand sanitizer before they enter your home. Then, provide hand sanitizer at each table and in high-traffic areas of your house.
5. Don’t Share Utensils
Many hosts serve a buffet-style Thanksgiving dinner where everyone loads up their plates with their favorite dishes. However, one experiment conducted with fluorescent paint and a black light proved how quickly germs can spread in a buffet setting.
To mitigate this, provide each guest with a separate, disposable serving spoon they can use during dinner. When they’ve eaten their fill, they can throw these single-use spoons away. For a more environmentally responsible holiday celebration, encourage your guests to bring their serving utensils from home.
Staying Safe on Thanksgiving During COVID-19
While you may balk at the idea of taking so many precautions and steering clear of your traditional large Thanksgiving dinner, it’s paramount to observe safety standards to prevent the transmission of illness throughout the nation, especially as cases continue to skyrocket.
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