How to Thanksgiving and More in the Year of 2020
2020 is a year we will certainly not forget. Across the globe, we have learned to live, work, and socialize during a pandemic that just isn’t letting up. We have just entered the holiday season with no end in sight to social distancing. In the United States, arguably our most popular annual holiday is upon us—Thanksgiving. The month of November is usually filled with planning, baking, cooking, travel, and gathering for Friendsgivings, Thanksgivings, hometown happy hours, and more.
Before we start brainstorming on ways to celebrate Thanksgiving during this unique year, check out the official guidelines from the CDC here, these guidelines remind us which activities are low risk and which higher-risk activities we should avoid.
Keep it Fresh with an Outdoor Friendsgiving
The weather has definitely turned brisk and even cold in November, but for those able to host an outdoor gathering, this might be the perfect way to still connect with friends safely. Keep the invite list to only a few households and plan a casual picnic at a nearby park. Set up picnic blankets or tables at least six feet apart and for extra safety have everyone bring their own meals. If you do opt to share dishes, the CDC also has tips on how to minimize risk on this too.
Take the initiative to start new traditions to your gathering. Perhaps you can incorporate an outdoor activity or sport into the day? Play no-touch hide and seek or bring along a Corn Hole set and each household can have their own bean bags. Kick the soccer ball back and forth between households. Wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining your distance should keep these activities safe while being fun for everyone.
Bring Back the Virtual Happy Hours
Last spring as we all adjusted to the stay-at-home orders, Zoom happy hours were a popular way to stay connected to friends, family, and colleagues. Many, many months later, and after a workday filled with video calls, it’s no surprise that we are experiencing Zoom fatigue. This month, we recommend you make an exception and bring together your favorite colleagues, but with no meeting agenda. Or invite your college friends for a virtual catch up and reminisce on the days when you could be together! Perhaps Thanksgiving is a time that you usually get to see hometown friends that you aren’t in touch with by phone or text throughout the year. Reach out using Facebook’s Messenger Rooms for a free video chat option of up to 50 people.
For these virtual happy hours, add fun themes such as “ugly sweaters” or “crazy hats” to lighten the mood for the chat. You could send out a special cocktail recipe and encourage everyone to enjoy the cocktail while chatting. These virtual get-togethers really do help us maintain our connections to our community and it’s always more fun to spend the evening with friends!
New or To Go Dishes for Thanksgiving at Home
This year, the only way to stay low risk during your Thanksgiving celebration is to keep it small and within your own household. Of course, you have spent the past seven months or more with your household, so another meal together might not cause everyone to jump for joy. Get creative with this year’s Thanksgiving menu. Don’t roast the turkey, instead you could BBQ it, or serve Salmon instead— whatever inspires you! Maybe you’ve always wanted to try a meatless Thanksgiving, now is your chance. Check out recipes for plant-based mains dishes from the Lexington Cooperative Market in Buffalo, NY. You can also forget about slaving all day in the kitchen and just order in. The Fresh Market has 159 locations in 22 states from Oklahoma east to Rhode Island and they offer a complete prep-free Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings you can order ahead.
Sure, you’ve been home for months, but instead of your usual house attire of sweats or joggers, take things up a notch and ask everyone to get dressed up! Dress shirts, bow ties, cocktail dresses, chunky necklaces, cufflinks— give a forgotten item in your closet some love. Invite another household to join in for a virtual Thanksgiving cocktail hour before you eat and show off your fancy dress. Don’t forget to raise a glass to cheers across the screens and connect during the holiday.
Whatever version of Thanksgiving celebrations you choose this year—outdoor, virtual, or small— take a moment for yourself and consider all you have to be grateful for. This year has definitely been unlike any other, and although all of us are enduring the pandemic together, many of us may have also dealt with health, financial, or employment hardships too. Finding a way to still connect with old friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family is important to remind you of all the ways people can support each other and that ultimately we are stronger together.