Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For many, that means turkey, family, and football. No matter your traditions, one thing is certain, this year’s festivities will be unlike any other. With the ongoing pandemic continuing to disrupt daily life, Americans are wondering what that means for their holiday plans.
Family gatherings this year may put loved ones at risk, especially vulnerable and older adults. It is better to miss one family holiday so all can celebrate together next year. The safest way to celebrate this year is with people in your household. If you’re planning on spending the holidays with people outside of your household, there are ways to make the celebration safer.
What to Avoid
Overall, the CDC suggests avoiding the following this holiday season:
- Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household.
- Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race.
- Attending crowded parades.
- Shopping in crowded stores around Thanksgiving.
- Using alcohol or drugs can cloud judgment.
Of course, this isn’t always possible, and people yearn to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Below are just some of the ways to ensure a safer celebration.
Not traveling is the safest option, but for those who must travel this Thanksgiving, consider all of your options. Short trips by car are the lowest risk, while longer flights, especially those with layovers, are the highest risk.
If you find yourself traveling long distances by car or on a lengthy flight with layovers, take the following steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
- Wear a mask when in public settings, including airports and stations.
- Remain at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not from your household.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Prepare to Quarantine
One of the safest ways to reduce risk is to quarantine for two weeks after you travel. That is not possible for everyone, but for those who can, public health experts advise quarantining for 10-14 days before engaging in Thanksgiving festivities. The 10-14 day time frame is based on the virus’s incubation period. Quarantining is a way to ensure that you do not have the virus, and therefore cannot spread it to others.
Revise Your Dinner Plans
For many, the full-day preparation of the feast is as important as enjoying the grand meal together. Food is at the core of Thanksgiving, so this year it is important to find avenues and safe alternatives to keep the festivities alive.
Have a virtual dinner
This is the safest option for those who aren’t comfortable gathering in groups or who have vulnerable family members. You can practice all of the same traditions together over a virtual space, even if you’re cooking in separate spaces! It is also beneficial to reach out to loved ones and stay connected to your friends and family if you cannot all be together on Thanksgiving.
Eat with your housemates
Having an intimate Thanksgiving with those in your immediate household is another way to ensure a safe Thanksgiving. The CDC even suggests preparing traditional family recipes for friends, family, and neighbors and delivering them in a way that doesn’t involve contact with others. This is a great way to stay connected with loved ones and strengthen empathy and gratitude, which is the essence of Thanksgiving!
Host an outdoor dinner
For those who plan on getting together with friends and family outside of your immediate household for Thanksgiving, hosting an outdoor dinner is the safest option. This is especially true if guests have been traveling considerable distances. As the weather gets colder, this is increasingly hard in certain areas, so creating the right environment with space heaters, fire pits, appropriate attire, and other methods is extremely important.
Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving
For those of you who plan on hosting a Thanksgiving celebration with people outside of your household, the CDC suggests the following:
- Have an outdoor meal. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is lower in outdoor settings.
- Limit the number of guests.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
- Keep windows open if celebrating indoors.
- Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
- Consider having guests bring their own food and drink.
- Have one person serve food with single-use options, like plastic utensils.
Tips for Attending a Thanksgiving Celebration
If you’ll be attending a celebration with people outside of your household, the CDC recommends the following:
- Consider bringing your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
- Wear a mask and safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
- Avoid areas where food is being prepared.
- Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
Communicate With Your Friends and Family
Communication is key, and as debates continue to rage across the country over mask-wearing, we must communicate with our loved ones about whether or not it is safe to get together for Thanksgiving. Start having those tough conversations now, and remember to avoid making judgments. Everyone’s comfort level is different, valid, and should always be respected. As long as we’re having conversations with our loved ones about what we are and are not comfortable with, we can help ensure a safer holiday season.
Celebrate in Other Ways
With the continued uncertainty in the world, now is the perfect opportunity to create new holiday traditions or celebrate in nontraditional ways! Try cooking a new dish, decorating or doing some arts and crafts, writing letters of gratitude, or simply binge-watch a new show. Just because festivities look different this year does not mean you shouldn’t take this time to celebrate with your loved ones in safe ways that make you all feel good!
Thanksgiving isn’t always a celebration for everyone. We understand that the holidays can be a hard time for people, especially this year. As always, Jefferson Center’s Colorado Spirit Team is here for you. Offering free and confidential support, we can help you with counseling tips and strategies to cope successfully and referrals to additional mental health resources. Call us if you need to talk at 720-731-4689
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call 1-844-493-8255 or visit our 24/7 crisis walk-in center at 4643 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033.