The holidays are right around the corner, but with COVID-19 still in full force, the season will likely look different than normal. Just days away, Thanksgiving, a holiday where family and friends traditionally join together to celebrate, cannot look the same way as years in the past. However, just because there are restrictions in place does not mean the holiday is ruined. By following a few rules and tips from the CDC’s helpful Thanksgiving website, this holiday can still be a great celebration.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays, but this year, health and government officials are suggesting that people stay home. However, if you do choose to travel, make sure you take precautions and follow certain guidelines. It is a good idea to get your flu shot before going, and also check any travel restrictions that could impact your trip. While in any public setting and while utilizing public transportation of any kind, wear a mask, and stay at least six feet away from anyone who is not a member of your household. While traveling, wash your hands often, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content frequently if soap and water is not easily accessible. And, avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and mask!
Whether hosting or attending a Thanksgiving gathering, there are steps you can take to make the experience as safe as possible. As a host, consider holding the meal outdoors, and only invite a small group of local family and friends to prevent people from traveling far and risk exposure to the virus. If you must host the celebration indoors, open the windows to create a well-ventilated area. It may be a good idea to have a discussion with guests in advance to establish rules and set expectations to prevent any issues during the gathering. Suggest that guests bring their own food, drinks, and tableware, but if you shall be serving people, limit how many people are in the serving areas, and consider using single-use plates and utensils. Above all else, frequently clean and disinfect all high-contact surfaces, and make sure guests are following mask and social distancing guidelines. It might be hard to keep these in mind in a celebration, but it is important to follow these rules to protect everyone’s safety and health.
This might be the year to think creatively when planning Thanksgiving-related activities. Consider planning a virtual Thanksgiving celebration, where you pick a time to virtually share dinner together. Think of ways to make the event as close to normal as possible, such as sharing recipes or planning the same menus to replicate a traditional gathering. Also, consider making Thanksgiving a family day, and spend time with the members of your household. Watch the common sports and parades on television, or watch movies and play games together. Even consider getting an early start on your holiday shopping. Many companies will run online sales, so see what they have to offer and have a virtual shopping trip!
Through all of this, don’t forget friends, neighbors, and relatives whose circumstances might prohibit them from celebrating Thanksgiving even in these altered times. Prepare food for those who may not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving or have anyone to celebrate with because of social distancing guidelines. Organize meal drop-off to family and friends in a safe way that follows proper social distancing guidelines, such as leaving them on a porch to be collected after you are a safe distance away.
With a few adjustments, and maybe a few concessions, Thanksgiving will still go on. By doing your part to protect your health, as well as the health of those around you, we all can look forward to next year, when Thanksgiving will hopefully look a lot more normal than it will be this year. But still, remember to find time with your family and friends—whether virtually or safely in person—and remember all the things you are grateful for, no matter how big or small.
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