This year, Thanksgiving just isn’t going to look the same. But, rather than saying ‘Let’s cancel Thanksgiving,’ we want to answer the question ‘How do we make it safer?’ If you’re trying to find ways to gather, but still protect vulnerable loved ones from COVID-19, here are some tips:
Alternatives to traditional gatherings
Instead of trying to have a big family gathering with all the trimmings, consider these alternatives:
- Virtual traditions--Find safer ways to enjoy cherished traditions, like holiday shopping online and watching local parades from home on TV. “The Thanksgiving meal may be the hardest time for your child to be apart from family members who aren’t in your quarantine group, like grandparents,” says Dr. Thu "Stephanie" Nguyen, Pediatrician at ARC Center Street. “So focus on activities that are easy to bond over from a distance. Schedule calls for family members to share a favorite recipe with your child or make suggestions for crafts, like napkin rings or place cards.”
- Keep it intimate--If you don’t live under that roof, don’t go into that house. Limit your festivities to your immediate household, those you live with and see every day.
- Zoom the meal—Share your meal with immediate family and then use video conferencing -- like Zoom -- to connect your meal to other branches of the family tree. “During your Thanksgiving video chat, have your child host “opening” and “closing ceremonies,” says Dr. Amanda V. Soza, Pediatrician at ARC Center Street. “Your child might want to kick things off with a song or prayer, and wrap up with a round of jokes or the latest Tik Tok dance. With old traditions on hold, the possibilities are endless.
- Spread it out—Have several small get-togethers over the space of a week or two in lieu of one big get-together-- group size has a big impact on a person’s risk of catching the virus.
- Just say no!--Don’t eat or drink at your gathering, so that everyone can leave their masks on. You can socialize without consuming turkey and pie—get creative!
Safety for gatherings
If you are planning a more traditional get-together with members outside your immediate household, try to keep celebrations as small as possible. Other safety tips include:
- Get tested first—A lot of families are coming together from outside “the bubble” because kids will be home from school and other circumstances. Ask everyone to get a COVID-19 test first. It’s not foolproof but will allow for a certain level of comfort.
- Mask up—Ask everyone to wear a mask when they’re not eating.
- Self-quarantine first if you are traveling--Prepare for your trip by locking yourself down for 10 to 14 days before you go. Order groceries. Limit your trips out of the house. Avoid close contact with others.
- Go al fresco!—Have your gathering outside if weather permits or open the windows if it’s too cold to go outside—but still keep it small.
Want to assess the risk?
If you are uncertain about the risk attached to your gathering, use this global event risk assessment tool-- https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/ --developed by Georgia Tech. It lets you enter your county and the number of folks attending to let you see how likely it is that someone will bring COVID-19 with them to your party. The risks are based on positive cases over the last two weeks in each county in the U.S. so wait ‘til two weeks before your company comes to assess your risk for a Thanksgiving get-together.
Don’t forget that is also flu season. Be sure to minimize your risk of being exposed to the flu by getting a flu shot at least two weeks before your gathering. Book your flu shot at ARC today.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, no matter what it looks like. And remember the health basics of this season--wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask, and limit travel.