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7 Low-Risk Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Gathering with extended family for Thanksgiving during COVID-19 may be too risky.

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It has become obvious that COVID-19 isn’t going away in time for Thanksgiving 2020. That means the traditional Thanksgiving festivities may be high-risk activities, such as gathering with your extended family, attending large parades, or “Black Friday” shopping. Luckily, there are safer ways to celebrate Thanksgiving during the pandemic.

The Risks of Traditional Thanksgiving Activities

Many Thanksgiving activities bring together people from all over. If one person is from an area with a more active spread, they may unknowingly transmit the virus to others, leading to an outbreak. In fact, experts are warning that many COVID-19 outbreaks are coming from small gatherings.

For example, gathering with your extended family often involves traveling to other cities—or even other states. Unless you’re in a warmer climate, you probably have to crowd inside since winter weather is setting in. Plus, you’ll need to take off masks and cloth face coverings to enjoy the feast.

A Safer Thanksgiving During COVID-19

When picking ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, consider size, the space, and the duration. Fewer people, bigger and more ventilated space, and shorter time is safer than large groups, small and enclosed spaces, and several hours together.

Try these safer ways to celebrate Thanksgiving during COVID-19 to keep you and your family healthy:

1. Having a dinner with people in your own household

You can still do the big Thanksgiving dinner: Just narrow the attendance list to just your household members.

2. … or have a virtual dinner to include friends and extended family

Include the whole fam using video chat. One perk is that each family can eat what they want, so if nobody else likes your famous brussels sprouts, you can keep them all to yourself.

Of course, having a small family dinner might mean that it’s too much work to make a massive roasted turkey and all the beloved sides. Consider simpler (but still impressive) alternatives, like pot pie or a savory tart.

3. Watch events from home

Avoid mass gatherings like parades and sporting events. The density of people allow easy transmission of COVID-19, even if they’re outside. Luckily, many of these events are always on TV for safe viewing at home.

4. Prepare Thanksgiving recipes for others

For some people, part of the joy for Thanksgiving comes from cooking and feeding loved ones. It might be disappointing to lose that opportunity when you’re not gathering with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

One way to feel connected with others through food is by cooking for neighbors or loved ones at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, or people who live alone. These people may not be able to spend the day with family. Bringing them a dish of stuffing or sweet potato casserole that they can heat up may mean a lot to them. (Just use contact-free delivery to keep them safe.)

5. Have a small outdoor picnic, if weather allows it

If you choose this route, be strict about the guidelines. Households should stay 6 feet apart, wear masks when not eating, and consider bringing their own food. Be cautious with alcohol, since people tend to slack on social distancing guidelines as they imbibe. As hard as it is, avoid hugs, kisses, and handshakes.

6. Have kids prepare Thanksgiving-themed crafts

Your kids might be used to spending the holiday with their cousins, so it might help if they have fun activities to celebrate the day safely at home. Have them color the placemats for the family dinner, make pine cone turkeys, or make sugar cookies in Thanksgiving shapes. If your kids are old enough, have them help with the dinner preparations.

7. Take advantage of online shopping

If you’re the kind of person who wakes up early to go “Black Friday” shopping, skip the stores and enjoy the online deals instead. Many sites offer the exact same sales online—without the aggressive crowds and high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

It might be hard to ditch your usual Thanksgiving traditions, but a healthy holiday season is something to be thankful for.