Like so much of life this year, the upcoming holiday season is going to look a lot different than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Different doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad – there are still plenty of ways to celebrate and connect with family and friends while staying safe this Thanksgiving. Perhaps you will develop new traditions to incorporate in future years.
10 Fun and Safe Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19
1. Save a (Virtual) Seat at the Table
Thanksgiving is normally the busiest travel time of the year. This will change this year with COVID-19 cases increasing, and travel restrictions in place. But this doesn’t mean you have to spend the holiday alone. Connecting with loved ones is more important than ever and thankfully technology can make it easier. FaceTime a parent or friend and prepare a meal together. Once dinner is ready, setup a Zoom call and have your loved ones join in. You can still enjoy Thanksgiving during COVID-19 with wonderful food and lively conversation while staying safe.
2. Plan and Order Food Early To Stay Safe
You should plan out your Thanksgiving Day food menu early so you can order your groceries online or mask up and head to the store with your list. Keep in mind that you’ll likely be cooking for fewer people than normal, so you’ll want to buy smaller amounts of food (while still making sure there’ll be enough for leftovers). A couple of turkey breasts might suffice instead of a 20-pound bird for example.
And for those of us whose culinary skills don’t go beyond making popcorn and toast, many restaurants are now offering family-sized meals-to-go. Ordering in is a delicious way to support local small businesses that have had a tough year due to the pandemic.
3. Get Outdoors and Get Moving
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where it won’t be too cold or wet, take advantage and get outdoors for a bit before the big meal. Most organized Turkey Trot races have been cancelled, but you can organize your own amongst your own pod or bubble. If running isn’t your thing, try tossing a football in the backyard or plan a masked bike ride around your neighborhood.
4. Arts and Crafts for the Whole Family
There are plenty of fall-themed arts and crafts projects to keep kids of ages entertained until dinner is ready. Enjoy Thanksgiving during COVID-19 at home with paper bag turkeys, pumpkins made from yarn and painted rock centerpieces.
5. Scavenger Hunts Aren’t Just for Easter Anymore
Another way to keep kids occupied while you’re busy cooking is by planning out a scavenger hunt. Hide items like mini pumpkins, acorns and small candies around the house and leave clues out as well. Add prizes that are unique to your family to make the stakes even higher – maybe the winner gets out of doing dishes, trash duty or other chores for a week to celebrate their triumph.
6. Let the Games Begin
What’s a family get-together without a little friendly competition? There are plenty of game platforms and apps that are easy to play via Google Hangout and Zoom, like the Jackbox Party Pack or Kahoot! for trivia and quizzes. Xbox Live and other video game platforms also allow kids to stay connected online.
7. Lights, Camera, Couch
Although several upcoming movies have been delayed until 2021 due to pandemic, there are plenty of new releases from streaming sites or cable to enjoy this holiday season. Apps like Netflix Party make it easy to chat with family and friends while everyone watches along from home.
8. Take Advantage of Black Friday Deals at Home in Your Pajamas
We may need to stay home and avoid crowded malls and big box stores this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great deals to be had as you begin your holiday shopping. Many retailers have started their Black Friday and Cyber deals early and online, so there’s no need to set an alarm at 5 a.m. or camp out in the cold. Also make sure to check out local retailers like bookstores or clothing boutiques, as their business has been severely impacted by shutdowns and other restrictions.
9. Deck the Halls
You’ve probably spent more time at home this year than any before. Breaking out the decorations, whether you embrace a fall aesthetic or jump straight ahead to the Christmas tree and holiday lights, is a fun way to refresh your home. Heat up some cocoa and cider, snack on some leftovers and haul out the holly to get in the holiday spirit.
10. Give Thanks
We’ve all faced a myriad of unprecedented challenges this year. Working from home, virtual learning, employment changes, isolation, illness, social justice movement – life in November 2020 looks drastically different than life in November 2019. This makes a holiday like Thanksgiving more meaningful. Take time of the busy day to reflect and practice gratitude for the blessings you might normally take for granted. You can also donate to your local foodbank, send pizza to the staff at a local hospital or simply buy coffee for the person in line behind you at the drive thru. Doing something special for others is the best way to spread goodwill and cheer this holiday.
3 Things to Avoid This Thanksgiving During COVID-19
1. In-Person Gatherings
Parties with people from outside your immediate household or bubble present a serious risk this year. Indoor gatherings should be avoided at all costs, while outdoor meetings should employ social distancing, masks and hand hygiene.
2. Buffet-style Serving Setups
Consider using single-use utensils or designate one person (wearing a mask) to serve food so that multiple people do not have to touch the same plates and utensils. Make sure to have plenty of soap and hand sanitizer are available for people to use before and after preparing, serving and eating food.
3. Public Transportation Centers
Airports, train stations and bus stops are often crowded and can increase the risk of exposure to the virus. If you must travel, driving is the safest option, but you’ll want to take extra precautions like wearing masks and using hand sanitizer at rest stops and gas stations.