This year, lean into the weirdness of the 2020 holiday season and make it as enjoyable (and responsible) of a celebration as possible. Many are planning to nix age-old Thanksgiving traditions and opt for short, small gatherings with built-in social distancing. But fear not—a COVID-safe Thanksgiving can still be fun! So grab your mask, put on your creative hats and start planning. These four tips should help get you started.
Host your festivities outside.
Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year, and Thanksgiving is a great time to take advantage of it. With COVID-19 making indoor dining more of a risk, try hosting an outdoor feast this year. Set up card or round tables six feet apart for proper social distancing, and give each “quaranteam” their own table. To mitigate person-to-person contact, make sure every table has its own wine bottle(s), ice bucket and serving dishes, and divide the food ahead of time. For both safety and convenience, put hand sanitizer at every table—it’s the hottest accessory of 2020.
With a whole patio or backyard at your disposal, there’s so much for you to have fun with. Go all out with the decorations and create a fun theme for each table. Set up hay bales for additional seating, make your own mini pumpkin patch, fill mason jars with fall-colored flowers and string white lights across the yard for more ambiance. If it’s cold where you live, put brand new scarves or blankets on each person’s chair and let them take it home as a party gift. End the night spaced out around a firepit, with Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” blasting through some outdoor speakers. After all, Thanksgiving does mark the official start of Christmas season!
There are no rules in 2020, so if you don’t want to cook, don’t! In fact, this may be a great excuse to kick back, relax and order the heartiest meal of the year from a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.
Here are two ideas: Commons Club at Virgin Hotel Dallas is offering full, Thanksgiving meals to-go for parties of four, eight or 12. Starting at $150 for a party of four, each feast includes a pecan-smoked turkey hen, a ham (for parties of eight or 12), mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and pie. Then, if you’re in Nashville, head to Commons Club at Virgin Hotel Nashville and grab a Thanksgiving to-go dinner for four. This $199+ package includes a 12-pound oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie. For every Nashville dinner package purchased, the hotel will donate one oven roasted turkey to The Mary Parrish Center, a support facility for victims of domestic abuse.
Have a Zoomsgiving.
Thanksgiving 2020 is all about limited travel and smaller guests lists. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with the friends and family you don’t get to see! Video chatting has been the backbone of 2020, and your Thanksgiving celebrations are another place where it can really shine.
If you’re used to cooking with your relatives, hop on Zoom and chat as you prepare your feast in your individual homes. If your parents or kids couldn’t make it this year, connect your laptop to the big screen TV during dinner and Zoom-pretend you’re all eating in the same room together. After dinner, but before the tryptophan sets in, Zoom with everyone who would normally attend (and maybe even a few new faces!) and play virtual games like “Name That Tune,” digital “Cards Against Humanity” or trivia. It might not be exactly like last year, but it’ll have the same lovable people and a whole lot of fun.
Give thanks—then give back.
The pandemic has made this year hard for everyone, especially those who have lost loved ones or jobs. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, help someone who needs it. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor who’s scared to go to the store. If you know someone who’s struggling to make ends meet, buy them a surprise turkey and leave it at their door. Is your neighbor celebrating alone? Bake them your favorite pie and attach a note that lets them know you’re thinking about them.
If you want to help on a bigger scale, consider donating the money you saved on hosting this year to a local food bank or a charity that’s meaningful to you. This year especially, let’s all share the wealth.
Written By: Jennifer Agress