How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely During COVID-19

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  • Despite the pandemic, there are ways to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for a safe Thanksgiving.
  • You should avoid travel and large dinner gatherings, according to the CDC.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, family, and football all bring about the nostalgia of Thanksgiving for many people. However, with the pandemic underway and COVID-19 cases increasing in many areas, it’s difficult to imagine this year’s celebration like those of the past.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert, recently told Yahoo News, “I think we need to realize things might be different this year, particularly if you want to have people who are going to be flying in from a place that has a lot of infection — you’re going to an airport that might be crowded, you’re on a plane, and then to come in — unless you absolutely know you’re not infected — there are many people who are not going to want to take that risk.”

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in its for Thanksgiving that travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. However, if you must travel, consider the risks involved first.

In addition to traveling, the CDC also suggests avoiding the following activities to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

  • 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, which can cloud judgment

There’s good news, though. There are ways to celebrate Thanksgiving without putting yourself or others at risk.

Health experts share a few ideas and their level of risk, according to the CDC.

1. Revise your dinner plans (low/moderate risk)

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Since eating a grand meal together is the essence of Thanksgiving celebrations, finding an avenue to enjoy food together is one way to keep the vibe of the day alive. Safer alternatives include:

  • Dine virtually (low risk)
  • Eat with your housemates (low risk)
  • Host a small outdoor dinner (moderate risk)

2. Visit your favorite fall farm (moderate risk)

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To get in the Thanksgiving spirit, research pumpkin patches or orchards where people are expected to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, and use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples.

Taking in the experience and enjoying that it’s possible during the pandemic may make the adventure all the more worth it. Finding a spot on the farm or orchard to sit and reflect with those you are with can bring meaning to the season.

“This year, when gatherings might not be possible or advisable, we can still enjoy the benefits of holidays like Thanksgiving. We can take time to reflect on the value of gratitude and the meaning of our lives.”

3. Get your TV fix (low/moderate risk)

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Getting good TV time is a must for many on Thanksgiving. While it might not be possible to watch football, events, parades, or “A Christmas Story” with a bunch of your favorite people snuggled on the couch as the smell of turkey fills the room, you can still do this with those you live with.

“Feelings of belonging counteract loneliness and provide the advantages of social support. Even from a distance, people can enjoy a sense of community. For example, friends and relatives can watch a favorite film at the same time and exchange comments in real-time.”

If you decide to venture out to a small outdoor sports event with safety precautions in place, the CDC considers this a moderate risk and suggests following these guidelines.

Since shopping is such a big part of Thanksgiving and the day after if you feel like you’ll miss out, shop online with those you live with. You can all browse together while eating seconds from Thanksgiving dinner.

Celebrating in some ways is good for your well-being

Part of living during this time means dealing with constant change, which is a double-edged sword.

“Holidays serve as society’s agreed-upon opportunities to attend to our need to stay socially connected. Get-togethers with family, friends, and co-workers remind us of our importance to others and preserve our sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.


Author: Devika

Devika, M.Sc, NET Qualified is passionate about helping people discover the power of nourishing real food. She specializes in weight management, therapeutic nutrition, food allergies and intolerances, inflammatory diseases, gut health, and functional nutrition. Her approach blends a conventional health care and nutrition background with natural and science-based therapies.