It may be safest to skip this year’s family holiday gathering if possible, public-health experts say — but the decision is a personal one, and there are ways to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission if you choose to forge ahead.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued detailed guidance for a pandemic Thanksgiving as coronavirus cases surged across the country and hospitalizations hit record highs that surpassed April’s figures, stressing that “the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household.” Potential alternatives include a virtual Thanksgiving meal with friends or loved ones and contact-free delivery of safely prepared traditional dishes to family and neighbors, the CDC suggested.
“If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer,” the agency added. Those steps start with properly wearing a mask, maintaining at least six feet of distance from people who don’t live with you, and washing your hands often (or using hand sanitizer in a pinch).
The CDC had issued earlier advice on how to navigate fall and winter holidays, noting that “unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.”
Sitting out this year’s big family gathering can help keep everyone safe — especially vulnerable family members — and avoid overburdening hospitals during flu season, he said.
“Unfortunately, the merriment we crave — eating, drinking and singing together in a cozy room — are among the highest-risk scenarios for transmitting COVID-19,” Delgado told MarketWatch. “I’m optimistic that things will be different next year, and we can give up this year as an act of charity to our friends, family and community.”
You can still make the holiday feel festive. Here are some fun ways to mix things up.
Make place cards and a seating plan
Let everyone choose a recipe to add to the menu Get “dressed up” I, like many of you, have spent most of the last seven months in pants with expandable waistbands.
Make the cooking a team effort
Have everyone “arrive” like you haven’t been living together
On Thanksgiving day, designate someone as the host, then have everyone else go outside and ring the doorbell when guests would normally arrive. Have the host greet them like they didn’t just see them five minutes earlier.
Pass around the appetizers.
Make it feel like the festive start to a special occasion.
Make a playlist
Have a signature beverage
Zoom with family & friends
We know we all have Zoom fatigue by now, but it’s still the easiest way to see people without getting together in person. And don’t just limit yourself to the actual meal; hang out over Zoom while you’re prepping the food. Talking to someone you don’t see every day is a great way to distract you while you’re peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes.
Do a dessert exchange with people you trust to do it safely
Plan a non-eating activity
Most turkey trots are cancelled this year, but you can always plan an epic board game throwdown or puzzle party. Or even better for this year, gather some notecards and stamps and have everyone write to friends and family you haven’t been able to see in person this year.
2020 Thanksgiving Guide: How to Thanksgiving
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