Many things have changed this year, including the way we are supposed to celebrate the most important holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you have been hosting the Thanksgiving dinner for years or were looking forward to sharing a new recipe with your loved ones at a family dinner hosted by your parents, chances are you’ll have to take a raincheck. Due to COVID-19–related safety measures and travel restrictions, most of us will not be able to visit our families or hold onto some of the traditions in the past years.
But just because you cannot see your loved ones in person, doesn’t mean you cannot transform this Thanksgiving into a memorable one and show your family and friends that you care about them. Whether you can celebrate together or miles away, here are 8 easy ways to celebrate Thanksgiving safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. Also, make sure you find out What Are Superspreader Events? (And How You Could Attend One).
Have virtual Thanksgiving dinners
If your family or friends live a few blocks away, an easy and entertaining way to organize a nice Thanksgiving dinner is to have a meal swap between households. You can all decide the menu together, share recipes, secret ingredients, cooking tips and tricks and get things started. Each family will be responsible for preparing one or two dishes (taking due account of the number of people in the other households, so there’s plenty of food), place them into containers and deliver them to the other families on Thanksgiving day. Speaking of recipes, here’s something to get you started: 7 of the Best Thanksgiving Recipes to Be Grateful For.
If you want to keep things organized, you can also create a spreadsheet for everyone to see the assigned recipes and tasks. Once the meal trading is complete, you can all start a group video call and enjoy the delicious meals together in a safe but pleasant way.
Bring your family to life by broadcasting on your TV
Thanksgiving is the time people reunite with their families, cook and spend quality time together. This year, you might not be all in the same house, cooking and whatnot. However, there is one way to recreate that joyful atmosphere and bring your family or friends closer to you. Two, actually.
Although nothing can really replace your loved ones, preparing the same recipes, will still bring you some sort of comfort. So, start stuffing the turkey you and your mother used to prepare together or the cranberry sauce that made everyone lick their fingers. Having a virtual dinner with family and friends might feel awkward from the small screen on your mobile phone or computer. To turn the viewing and dining experience into an unforgettable one, try broadcasting your computer display on your TV. You will you be able to stay connected and see your loved ones in bigger sizes, making them seem like they’re in your kitchen or dining room. You could also use smart devices such as Amazon Echo to help you stay in touch, devices that can be easily used by children and seniors. Speaking of which, check out 13 Creative Ways Seniors Can Stay Connected While Social Distancing.
If you’re not exactly the best cook out there and are looking to take out the dread from preparing dinners, here’s a nice suggestion: order food instead of cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal yourself. Of course, you can still prepare some of the recipes you know and like best and supplement them with some fully cooked dishes such as turkey breast, creamy mashed potatoes and a delicious dessert. You can find ready-made dishes in grocery stores, or better yet, at local restaurants. The hospitality industry has been affected the most by the pandemic and needs all the clients they can get in these hard times.
To make things even safer, you could just order your food online. There are various websites such as Goldbelly, which allow you to order food from famous eateries and even have it sent to your loved ones. This brings us to our next section.
Ship food to family and friends
There’s no better time than Thanksgiving to show your appreciation, gratitude and love for everything good in your life, for your family and friends. What better way to do just that than by sending them a lovely gift basket or something you know they will surely appreciate. If you like to cook and bake, you can ship some of your Thanksgiving dishes to your family and friends and celebrate together once they receive the shipment.
Banana bread, pumpkin bread, bars of chocolate and cookies that don’t crumble easily are the best desserts to resist shipping. To make sure they don’t shake around during transport, wrap them up in packing material or put them in tins or plastic containers. Are you Eating Turkey This Thanksgiving? Here’s What You Should Know.
Reduce the number of guests
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a list of safety measures and recommendations for Thanksgiving. One thing the CDC recommends is to limit the number of people at gatherings. According to the CDC, “gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability to reduce or limit contact between attendees, the risk of spread between attendees, and state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations”.
Given that the number of people attending Thanksgiving dinner is smaller, you will probably need to reduce the size of your menu. After all, why cook for 20 people, when you’re only going to be less than half of that number? For this reason, you should also make fewer sides or order some from your local restaurant. What’s important is to be able to safely see loved ones and enjoyed a peaceful holiday.
Celebrate in the open air
If you live in a place with warm autumn, or in a state with a warmer climate, then consider yourself lucky. With the weather on your side, you can easily throw a small, outdoor party, whether it’s in a park or your own backyard. It’s the safest way for families to gather and celebrate while maintaining the safety and distancing measures imposed because of this pandemic.
To make things even safer, you could have a designated food station where each family could serve their food or portion the food in advance and put it into containers for each family attending the gathering.
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Say goodbye to old traditions and hello to new ones
Since this year everything is so different, perhaps it’s time to ditch old (and annoying) traditions and begin new ones. Start with your Thanksgiving menu. If you’ve been wanting for some time to try a new turkey recipe but have been afraid that your guests might not like, you could try it now, especially if you’re planning on having a virtual Thanksgiving dinner. Even if you have some guests, the fact that they will be fewer will take away some of the stress of preparing a never – before- tried recipe. Don’t feel bound to stick to the same old turkey and cranberry sauce recipes. When it comes to recipes, sky’s the limit!
Speaking of Thanksgiving recipes, you might find some inspiration here: Celebrity Recipe: The Ultimate Gordon Ramsay Thanksgiving Staple.
Donate to the less fortunate
This year’s Thanksgiving is even more emotional and poignant as many people have lost a friend or a family member to the coronavirus. More than that, thousands of people have been laid off and are suffering financial hardships because of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Needless to say, they need every help they can get to overcome these troubled times. If you can help them, this is your chance.
You can research online and find a charitable organization that helps those in need, such as The New York Times’s Neediest Cases Fund which has been raising money for the needy since 1912. You could also help out your elderly neighbors with various errands, especially if their children live in a different state and are unable to come for Thanksgiving.
Related: 13 Things You Shouldn’t Purchase During a Recession