Thanksgiving is coming and the celebration is likely to be anything but traditional this year. Maybe that’s OK with you because in a divisive year, the last thing you want is to dance around sensitive topics with your extended family.
“Having an excuse to keep two family members from being in the same room at the same time should make for a safer holiday itself,” Actively Northwest Insider Samuel said.
If you are less excited about missing out on the usual family gathering, there are plenty of ways to make the holiday special while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Because COVID-19 cases are so high right now, gathering with loved ones outside your home is not recommended.
The team at Actively Northwest urges you to play it safe this holiday, so we can all have a happy and healthy new year. Here’s how some Actively Northwest Insiders are giving thanks this year.
Actively Northwest Insider Amy has been taking her celebration outdoors for years. She likes to pack a Thanksgiving-themed lunch and hike somewhere.
“Even if the weather wasn’t ideal (done Thanksgiving in rain, Christmas in sideways wind, and Easter in the snow), there was something very peaceful about being in the moment,” she said.
Whether you head out solo or choose to bring a few loved ones along, the CDC reports that outdoor gatherings are lower risk than indoor. To make it a little safer, bring separate picnic blankets and pack food for your own household rather than sharing.
Taking it to a park
Elaine and her brother rented adjacent cabins. Their families can keep their germs separate, but they can still spend time together outside around the campfire. To reduce risk, they will each plan meals for their own families.
“Many state parks are open year-round for camping. Some even have cabins or yurts with heat,” she said.
Several Insiders told us they are planning a virtual Thanksgiving dinner. Each household will make their favorite dinner and set their own dining table. They’ll prop the computer at one spot and gather with loved ones remotely.
Insider Brenda has high-risk family members in assisted living. Her plan is to make the traditional dishes and deliver them to her parents, brother, and sister-in-law.
If that is too much, you could consider following Christine’s Canadian Thanksgiving idea and deliver a one-pan lasagna to loved ones’ doorsteps. They can just heat and the whole family eats the same meal together–from their own homes.
Keep the traditions you can
Robynn is skipping the family dinner but keeping the tradition she loves.
“My plan is to skip it because the CDC is warning that small household gatherings are increasingly to blame for COVID infections,” she said. “I love my annoying family too much to put any of them at risk. To keep one tradition going, my sister and I will still be turkey trotting in the virtual Seattle Turkey Trot to support Ballard Food Bank.”
If your family loves watching football or the Thanksgiving parade together, you can still do that from the comfort of your own living rooms by phone or video chat. Unfortunately, we don’t have great ideas for a virtual game of touch football. Maybe via Xbox?
First, the CDC suggests checking your local health department for information on the number of COVID-19 cases in your area. Since cases are high across the country, you might consider delaying your get-together until spring.
If you do decide to gather,
- Know that indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor. Gather outside if you can. If inside, open the windows to get some ventilation.
- Try to keep the gathering short in duration. More time together is riskier.
- Limit the number of attendees to allow people to space out.
- Reduce contact between people as much as possible. Avoid hugging, hand holding, and close contact.
- Try to keep it local. When people travel longer distances, they can increase community spread in the gathering location or bring it home with them.
- Wash hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart, and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cancel if you or anyone in your household has been exposed to COVID-19 or has any symptoms.
- Consider asking all guests to strictly avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.
- Consider asking the host about any safety plans they have and bring your own masks, hand sanitizer, tissues, utensils, or anything else you need to stay healthy.
Serving food and drinks
- Make sure everyone washes hands before serving food or handling utensils.
- Rather than sharing food, have each household provide their own.
- Limit access to food preparation areas.
- Have someone serve food rather than buffet-style where everyone handles utensils.
Tips for clean up
- Clean and disinfect any commonly touched surfaces between use.
- Use touchless garbage cans if possible.
- Consider using compostable plates, cups, and silverware.
- Wear gloves to wash dishes or handle garbage.
Finally, after a gathering, consider keeping to yourself for the next 14 days—just in case. If we all take precautions this year, we can look forward to celebrating in a less virtual way in 2021.
Image by franckreporter
Also: The pandemic is impacting mental health