Top 5 Tips for Handling Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Thanksgiving during COVID
Stock photo courtesy of Tatiana Syrikova.

Thanksgiving is historically one of the most beloved of American holidays where large groups of extended family and friends get together to feast, talk politics, catch up, and maybe even take in some football. Unfortunately, this year should be very different due to COVID. The CDC and Governor Whitmer advises that we do not get together in large groups, limit travel, and, if we do get together with people outside our household, to lessen the gathering size and the duration of the visit. 

We got input from people in the community about what they were planning to do to have a safe Thanksgiving. Here are the top five tips for Thanksgiving during COVID times.

  1. Celebrate with Immediate Family Only

If possible, hold a very intimate gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving with only people in your household. This is definitely the safest strategy to not spread the virus further and reduce the risk of exposing you and your loved ones to the virus. The benefit of this is you don’t have to wear masks, be six feet apart, or eat outdoors to be safe. Those invited are the same people you have been quarantining with for eight months now, so they are the safest for you to interact with. Another advantage to having a smaller group is that you can also purchase a smaller turkey. 

The wrong thing to do would be to get together with a very large group indoors, where masks would be off while eating, laughing, shouting, and physical contact. That would be a recipe for a super spreader event and potentially deadly for the more vulnerable and at-risk populations. So please be as safe as you can.

  1. If You Must Get Together, Only Gather with One Other Household

If you absolutely must get together with other people during the holiday for whatever reason, limit it to one other household and have the overall number of people be 10 or less. While experts are stating that it is better not to gather in a large group, many Americans are scheduled to do exactly that and will even be traveling as they would for any other Thanksgiving. If you can, limit travel by public transportation, such as by airplanes or trains, and opt to travel with one’s own immediate family in the car. Ideally, you could travel to a warmer climate where people can more safely eat outdoors and stay six feet apart if they are gathering with another household. 

Remember, there should be no handshakes, hugging, or really contact of any form. If sick, cancel all in-person plans. If anyone in your household is showing any symptoms of COVID at all, it is better to not go to anyone else’s home. Such symptoms may include sore throat, sneezing, fever, and difficulty breathing. 

  1. Eat Outdoors/Wear Masks

The weather, at the time of submission of this article, should be close to 50 degrees in the Ann Arbor-area. So you can potentially eat outdoors. Alfresco is supposedly how the Pilgrims and Native Americans ate, so it aligns perfectly with tradition. If you are eating with those outside of your household, consider bundling up with winter hats, coats, and scarves (in addition to the COVID masks) and sitting outside along with being six feet apart. Some people are reportedly holding an event with outdoor heaters and fire pits in order to allow their meal to be even more comfortable outdoors. 

Also, when you are not actually eating, people should be wearing their masks and staying six feet apart. 

  1. Go for a Gratitude Walk

Bundle up and go for a gratitude walk on Thanksgiving to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the beauty that nature still provides. Many of the leaves have fallen off of some trees and you can enjoy the spectacular shapes of the branches. Evergreens remind you that Christmas is coming soon, and there are some homes that have even already begun decorating and putting lights up for the holiday season. 

  1. Hold a Virtual Thanksgiving/Movie Watch Party

One thing people may wish to do through the Internet together, such as through Zoom, is to eat a meal on camera at the same time or to watch the same holiday movie. One person stated, “A Zoomsgiving is better than an ICU Christmas.” After a meal, one could even chat or participate in an email exchange while watching the same holiday film — commenting on funny scenes or lines together. 

Some family-oriented holiday movies, where Thanksgiving or the start of the holidays Is part of the film include: “Alice’s Restaurant” (1969), “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973), “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987), “Trading Places” (1983), “Rocky” (1976), “White Christmas” (1954), “Miracle on 34th Street (1947), “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946). There are also quite a few other Thanksgiving movies to get you into the spirit!