Celebrating Thanksgiving During A Pandemic

Despite or perhaps because of the long months of isolation this pandemic has put us all through, people are very eager to see their loved ones this year as the holiday season approaches. Right about now, during a normal November, families would be gathering in preparation for a hearty Thanksgiving dinner together. However, as COVID-19 cases rise all over the country, families are coming to terms with the idea they may spend this holiday season as cut off from loved ones as they’ve been since mid-March.

While hospitalizations, deaths and positive test rates rise once again, at the same time, people are requesting time off work or school this week and traveling en masse to spend the upcoming days with family and friends. Even if we avoid another massive uptick in cases next month as a result of these forays, a lot of people are finding creative ways to spend the holidays safely apart instead.

Here are a few ways your family can balance COVID-19 precautions with their usual brand of revelry.

Virtual Thanksgiving

It wouldn’t be a social distance checklist without the acknowledgment that everything is safer over a video calls. Brainstorm ways to make yours as close as possible to your usual Thanksgiving traditions: Share recipes to cook at the same time, try out a new side dish you’ve never had before, make it a competition to see who can create the most unique dessert, or find another interesting way to incorporate how you usually spend time together into this much safer alternative.

Socially Distanced Thanksgiving

If you’re determined to have an in-person celebration, you can stay more compliant with regulations and recommendations by ensuring that everybody stays socially distant at your home. Keep six feet apart and host the gathering outside to best avoid a super-spreader event.

The way you serve food also matters. Perhaps you’re used to having dinner family-style, with loaded platters on the table and everybody taking their fill. All putting hands on the same dishes and silverware is a surefire way to spread COVID-19 if someone in the party is asymptomatic, so it’s best to designate one person to cook, serve and handle food. Using gloves and plastic cutlery will also keep your family safer and make cleanup afterward a breeze.

Support Local Restaurants

All your favorite spots to eat around town have been hit hard by this pandemic, like small businesses in general have since March. This Thanksgiving, support a local restaurant in need and get the added bonus of making the holiday season a little bit easier on yourself.

A lot of restaurants, aware of the difficult financial bind they’re in, offer Thanksgiving specials for this opportunity. Find free takeout in the area for easy pick-up, and if you and your family live close by each other, you can even order from the same restaurant to get that feeling of sameness you miss out on by being apart.

If you decide to opt for delivery over free takeout, that’s still safer than a buffet-style dinner even if you gather in the yard. Have one person dole out the plates and it’s better than everybody reaching into the middle of the table to serve themselves. If you decide to support local businesses, consider thanking them on your social media so they know that customers appreciate their hard work during this week. User-generated content, or UGC, is word-of-mouth advertising for businesses who could really use the shoutout; you never know, they might offer free desserts or loyalty points for the pleasure of your patronage.

As foodservice workers do their jobs so you can spend much-needed quality time with your family, think about leaving them a hearty tip for their troubles as an added thank-you for making the holiday so great. We’re all struggling through this pandemic together and despite celebrations abounding recently, we can still get this devastating virus under control.

Your favorite restaurants are finding innovative new ways to put Thanksgiving meals on your family’s table. As you and your loved ones develop safer traditions this year, you can still find creative ways to integrate old habits and have a great family dinner to remember.

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