Many of us were hoping that the ongoing pandemic wouldn’t still be happening by the time the holiday’s rolled around, but here we are, amid our second wave, being encouraged to not go out and see high-risk family members like our grandparents and older relatives. However, gatherings with friends and family are still going to happen, so they should at least happen safely. Keep reading to learn more about how to stay safe this Thanksgiving, keeping you and your family safe. 


Consider Avoiding Family Gatherings

If you’re like many other people, most people in fact, then the anxiety of the year has gotten to you, and you can’t believe that you’re being encouraged to not see the friends and family that you love dearly. You’re not alone, and any feelings of frustration are valid. This is an extremely frustrating time because we cannot do the things we want to do and live our lives the way we want to live them. The risk of going to see anyone this year means you will be increasing your chances of contracting or spreading the virus. Public health officials are pleading with people not to gather in celebration of Thanksgiving with friends or family outside of their immediate household. With the rate of community transmission so high, everyone becomes at risk of contracting COVID-19.


Share the Experience Remotely

As lame as it sounds, gathering with friends through video conferencing apps, like FaceTime and Zoom, may have to be the bridge between families and friends this year. If it helps ease the pain, next year’s Thanksgiving is going to be off the charts and cause for a well-earned celebration.  A year when there is no six-week semi-lockdown in place when more than 10 people from different households can be in the same room.

Plan a Drop-Off Potluck and Socially-Distanced Thanksgiving

If you still want to share favorite dishes with others, prepare family recipes for nearby loved ones and neighbors, especially those at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and deliver them without direct contact. This is a great way to share great food with friends and family without exposing yourself and them. If you live in an area that has great weather during this season, then a socially distanced, front yard gathering is a great way to celebrate the holiday. Grab a cozy blanket for the ground and pack a picnic basket with some of the holiday essentials, like paper plates, forks, knives, spoons, and, of course, Tupperware of your cooked Thanksgiving food while distanced from your loved ones. 


Know the Risks of a Mixed-Household Gathering

If you are deciding on in-person gatherings with people you don’t live with, which increases COVID-19 risk, these steps can help make it safer:

  • Keep the gathering small and short – Keep your guest list as small as possible and reduce the amount of time you would ordinarily visit. 
  • Wear cloth face coverings and keep your distance – People from the same household can sit together, but arrange for those who don’t live together to stay six feet apart, especially while eating. Remind everyone to wear cloth face coverings whenever they are not eating or drinking.
  • Open windows and stay outside when possible – If you are indoors, open windows for better ventilation if possible. If weather permits, gather outdoors. Consider cooking your turkey on the grill or in an outdoor turkey fryer. Remember to maintain physical distance and wear cloth face coverings, even outside.
  • Safer serving – Choose one person to do the serving to avoid everyone touching serving utensils. Remind children to wash their hands often, keeping hand sanitizer readily available.



Traveling increases the chance of spreading COVID-19, and while the CDC recommends postponing your trip and staying home for Thanksgiving this year as the pandemic worsens, if you are going to travel, here are some tips to keep yourself safe: 

  • Drive with family members in a private vehicle, or a family car, avoiding ride-sharing, to avoid exposure to people outside your household if possible.
  • Wear a mask when you leave your car at gas stations and rest stops.
  • Make meals ahead of time and avoid restaurant stops if possible.
  • If you must travel by air, remember to maintain physical distance in security lines and concourses and wear masks in airports and planes.


Bottom Line

Remember that if you or anyone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are still at risk of spreading it to others; have had any coronavirus symptoms within 48 hours of the gathering; is waiting for viral test results; could have been exposed to someone in the last 14 days or is at high risk, then avoid gathering with those people. 


As the year comes to a close, it is going to be easy to throw caution to the wind and make plans to see people this holiday season. With the ongoing pandemic, it is still crucial to do what you can to keep yourself safe and keep those you love safe. To read up on more tips, look at the following links: