How To Celebrate Thanksgiving During The Pandemic

How To Celebrate Thanksgiving During The Pandemic

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Thanksgiving is all about close and distant people we care about and want to have nearby. It’s a holiday we celebrate by showing thankfulness, sharing food, and love. However, this year, many of our habits have changed, and so have holidays. Affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the way we gather is a lot different than before.

By avoiding crowds, we protect ourselves and the others and foster new quieter traditions. Adjusting to the newly arisen circumstances is our best shot right now. Read our ideas on how to celebrate Thanksgiving in the circle of your closest family members intimately and safely.

How to Celebrate Pandemic Thanksgiving

Households filled with family members and bars flooded with chatty people are a pipe dream this year. We have to come up with new, safe ways to cherish traditions and festivals. Before anything, we must follow the CDC’s guidelines for a safe celebration regardless of the location. 

Health authorities have assessed the virus spread risk at holiday celebrations to be extremely high. We’re particularly prone to exposure if mingling with numerous people in closed spaces. Therefore, focus on gatherings with the immediate family only and avoid contact with people beyond your household.

It’s imperative to stay indoors this year and spend time watching movies, sports events, or playing games. Have a virtual dinner with family and friends, and adjust the holiday accordingly. Last, if you still want to invite some people over, make sure you apply all safety measures. When possible, arrange the meal outdoors, prepare single servings, and practice social distancing.

Stay At Home

First and foremost, limit your exposure outside during major holidays this fall. Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, make sure you’re staying indoors with a limited circle of people. CDC has concluded that staying indoors is the easiest way to protect yourself and the community.

Going to restaurants and bars is entirely off-limits for now. CDC strongly advises against alcohol and spirits’ consummation to decrease people’s risky behavior in such troubled times.

Moreover, it’s best to postpone your travel plans for less crowded times later on. First, there are restrictions and limitations for traveling to some countries beyond the states. Second, travel is a high-risk activity that exposes you to many people, confined spaces, and commonly-touched surfaces. Last, if you still opt to travel, adhere to all guidelines and safety measures prescribed.

Virtual Dining

Traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving with family can be a challenging thing this year. Still, this doesn’t have to mean you can’t get together and have a joint feast. The answer is, have a virtual gathering! With so many apps, such as Zoom, Messenger, and Skype, your options to connect with your beloved ones are limitless.

First, you can coordinate your menus and have similar dishes to feast on for the night. You can then focus on the decorations and make them match to feel like you’re celebrating in the same room. Needless to say, ensure you find the right spot for the computer to be able to chat without effort during the meal.

Having a remote gathering doesn’t have to restrict you in any way. You can still use some online board games such as Ticket to Ride or play cards and chess virtually. Another great hack is to share a presentation or a slide show of what you’re thankful for this year. Finally, you can share some anecdotes and memories of past Thanksgiving occasions that you’ve spent together.

celebrating thanksgiving in pandemic
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova

Reduce Guest List

Health authorities have asked the US citizens to avoid gatherings of above ten people. Of course, the more considerable the crowd, the higher the risk for contracting the virus. If you live in a state with spiking cases, organize a gathering in the circle of your closest people.

Keep the guest list small to family and friends that you regularly communicate with. It’s even better to stick to the people in your household only. Also, skip going to somebody else’s home if many people got invited as this can quickly boost transmission rates.

Celebrate Outside (If Possible)

Inviting a large crowd indoors is a dangerous plan this Thanksgiving. So, if the weather allows it, think of fun activities and entertainment outdoors. For instance, you can place a projector outside and watch your favorite movie. Or if you’re a sports fan, watch a football game instead.

When kids are involved, hold a competition or tournament outside and enjoy this special day from early in the afternoon. Consider safe games like croquet, badminton, or corn hole to get together this fall. You may also want to visit a pumpkin patch or orchard as such activities carry a moderate risk of infection. Still, ensure you wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

Thanksgiving this year is particularly poignant as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, many people have lost their jobs or their loved ones and are in the middle of financial hardship. If you have time and means, consider volunteering and donating food and money to those in need.

Probably the best way to help the community and the poor is to act online and avoid any contact at all costs. Today, there are many charities and organizations dedicated to fighting the pandemic, so it’s up to you to decide. Moreover, consider donating to the local food bank instead of organizing an enormous feast that might endanger everyone’s health.

Start New Traditions

There’s no time for despair if your plans for this fall festivities cannot come to fruition. It’s high time you adjust to the new reality and break free from some burdensome traditions. We encourage you to experiment with some cheap meals that you always wanted to prepare and inspire you. Now that you have a smaller crowd to please, you can undoubtedly alter the usual menu. Still, keep the turkey and the pumpkin pie to maintain the spirit of the holiday.

When celebrating with kids, make paper crafts like a Thanksgiving wreath or a DIY handprint turkey hat. Make a board with leaves or notes containing family members’ thoughts about what they’re grateful for in life. Last, plan some outdoor entertainment like a nature walk or a hiking adventure.

Avoid Buffet-Style, Do Single Servings

Serving a buffet-style dinner during the pandemic is not a smart idea at all. In short, you don’t want others to stand next to you and speak while you’re putting food on your plate. Such close contacts break the social distancing rule, so it’s better to avoid serving all the dishes on a single side table.

Experts suggest that you should arrange the food in single servings while practicing social distancing. Even better, one person can serve while people are at a safe distance and enjoy the meal. Or you can go with grab-and-go-meals. Remember that the CDC asks US citizens explicitly to avoid potlucks, salad bars, and drink stations.

When preparing the food or serving it to the guests, make sure you wear a mask. It’s best if one person handles the serving utensils, too. Last, don’t forget to disinfect the reusable items such as seating covers, linen napkins, and tablecloths after the gathering.

Avoid Shopping, Order Food

In tough times like this, it’s understandable why you might not feel like cooking. Indeed, most of us have hundreds of other obligations throughout the week. So, ordering food from a restaurant or a local chef seems a fuss-free option. Many restaurants across the country are offering various catering and takeout, so your possibilities are practically limitless.

If you want to prepare some of the dishes yourself, order the side dishes from a grocery store. Moreover, you can even find specialty Thanksgiving meals or even regional dishes. At some places, you may find an excellent cherry-wood smoked turkey or even get a free turkey for Thanksgiving. Plus, by purchasing food from a local chef, you show gratitude and support them financially in times of crisis.

family celebrating thanksgiving in pandemic
The best way to protect your closest family members is to celebrate the date with them only.

Shop Online Rather Than In Person

Refrain from the Black Friday frenzy this year and do your planned shopping spree from the comfort of your home. Don’t worry; there is no need to wait until Cyber Monday to do the shopping online. This year, most Black Friday sales will be available online, too.

According to health officials, Black Friday shopping is on the no-go list this year. Retailers like Amazon and Target will start their annual sales before Thanksgiving and then extend the deals beyond the holiday. What matters before you start ordering online is to compile a detailed shopping list of items you need and stick to it.

It’s essential to avoid massive crowds at the mall this Thanksgiving. We understand it’s a kind of tradition, but health is paramount. Even if you decide to visit the nearest mall, go in the off-peak hours when fewer people hit the stores.

Watch Sports And Parades From Home

Sports fans should skip watching their favorite game live this year. It’s better to limit your exposure to high-risk areas with a lot of people. Organize a special sports night and watch the event on TV or online with your household members. Alternatively, if you’re a movie addict, turn Thanksgiving into a movie night and cuddle under the blankets. What’s safer these days than staying inside with the closest ones in your comfy home?

The same goes for parades, too. Avoid attending large gatherings outside at all costs as they are off-limits for now. Companies like Macy’s have already altered their plans for this year and are holding TV-only presentations. You can be part of smaller outside activities and events only if all safety precautions are in place.

Bring Fall Festivities To Your Backyard

Indoor gatherings that involve multiple generations are much riskier than socially-distanced celebrations in the backyard. Gatherings out in the open, on the other hand, reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19. For maximum protection, break up the seating into smaller groups by household for a safer mealtime.

You can organize the entire event as a picnic with everybody bringing in their food. Alternatively, set up a grill or an open fire and do the cooking below the stars. Last, think about celebrating in a local park if you live in a flat. Avoid alcohol and serve hot drinks and fresh juice to boost your immune system.

Don’t forget the decorations and a pretty centerpiece for maximum impression. Dress your patio with pumpkins and gourds, and consider a pop-up canopy in case it rains. If the weather is chilly, put some outdoor heaters or cozy throws to make everyone feel comfortable and warm.

table set for thanksgiving dinner outside
table set for thanksgiving dinner outside

Volunteer Opportunities (Virtually)

It might seem trivial, but you can cut the cost even for a big holiday like Thanksgiving. We always have tips that’ll help you enjoy your time in an altered, cheaper way. So, why don’t you skip your dinner and help someone else instead? Prepare a hot meal for people who need to feed themselves safely or offer to do their shopping.

Sign up for Meals on Wheels, for instance, and help this organization deliver free meals to seniors. Consider other volunteering options that don’t involve foodstuff, too. These include StoriiTime, where seniors read stories to children, or the Trevor Project, which offers troublesome youth support.

If you deem it risk-free and abide by the safety measures, consider delivering food and supplies in your community. Contact a local homeless shelter or kitchen and ask whether you can be of any help. You may get surprised at how many people are desperate for your assistance these days. Plus, this can turn into a new Thanksgiving tradition for you!

Check In On Senior Citizens

Don’t forget to offer assistance to the elderly and people with chronic conditions in your neighborhood. If you’re within the low-risk category, reach out to your community members and neighbors, and see how they’re coping. Ask whether they need their prescriptions taken or maybe, you can pick up the groceries for them.

Share your famous Thanksgiving pie with your closest neighbors who are alone for the holidays. Deliver it in a contact-free way for maximum safety. Above all, higher-risk people can be lonely this time of the year, and a little chat can be of much comfort. Try talking to them and sharing your holiday plans and ideas to help them feel less isolated and concerned.


Limiting direct contact and avoiding large groups doesn’t have to be the end of Thanksgiving. On the contrary, we must stay connected and dedicated to each other like never before. Luckily, there are ways to celebrate the fall holidays without having your home packed with guests.

Have you already got plans for this Thanksgiving? What are your hacks to stay safe and still gather with your dearest ones? We’ll be delighted if you share your ideas with us in the comment box below. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more suggestions on frugal living.


What is the best way to celebrate holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic?

First, stay at home whatever intentions you might have for the holidays. Limit all activities and gatherings to the comfort of your home. Organize a feast with single servings and make it a movie or sports night. If your family lives far from you, organize a virtual gathering, and prepare some games to play along. Last, don’t forget to check up on elderly neighbors and help the local community by online volunteering or donating food and money.

What are safe Thanksgiving activities during COVID-19?

CDC has announced a list of activities they believe are safe and advice against some other high-risk ventures. Generally, a small dinner with your household members is the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Alternatively, you can organize a virtual dinner if you have a longer guest list and don’t want to neglect anyone. Doing the shopping online is what authorities suggest for this year’s Black Friday. Finally, organize the holiday around home activities such as playing board games, cooking together, watching movies, and enjoying online parades.

What is the CDC recommendation for safe capacity for holiday gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The more people at the holiday feast, the higher the risk of getting sick. Therefore, it’s best to keep gatherings small based on limiting contact and spreading the virus between the attendees. CDC doesn’t specify an exact number, but they advise people to celebrate with their closest family and friends. Ten people would be the optimum number for any gathering this holiday season. Consider asking invited guests to avoid close contact with other people about two weeks before the dinner.

How safe is it to travel for Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Traveling for Thanksgiving this year is not safe and involves significant health risks. Even if you don’t manifest any symptoms, you may be contagious and spread it to your family. Or you may contract it from somebody else during flights, on public transportation, and while standing in long lines. Still, if you’re traveling, maintain frequent hand hygiene, keep a safe distance, and wear a surgical mask. Be particularly careful at gas stations, hotels, and food stops.




    23 thoughts on “How To Celebrate Thanksgiving During The Pandemic

    1. Raphael says:

      Yep, online shopping is the best way for this year

    2. Karim says:

      With the crisis and everything we can not make big feasts so it’s better to celebrate Thanksgivings at home and with the closest family.

    3. Jacques says:

      As I am working from home I am used to communicate online, but you have to admit that it is not the same. The celebrations and holidays should be time that you spend and hang with your family in person and celebrate

    4. Werner says:

      A couple of weeks ago I asked the question how much we are addictive of social medias for one of my researches. The response was huge and the results were devastating. Most of the people admitted that they use social media one way or another. We can not even go to the park if we are not “attached” to our phone and browsing the web in the meanwhile. Thanksgivings and other holidays should not be spent online. Yes we have to avoid crowds but having a Thanksgivings online is a nonsense.

    5. Daniela says:

      I am a single mom and I can not go out very often as I can’t leave my child. So last New Year’s Eve I spent with my friend online chatting and hanging. I avoided crowds, spending a lot of money and it was very good time spent. Radio and music, chatting, making jokes from the comfort of your home.

    6. Jurgen says:

      With this pandemic everything that we considered normal is now not. Every day we became more and more addictive from the social networks and we will forget how to communicate in person.

    7. David says:

      The holidays are about sharing with the less fortunate. So it is a good idea to provide some food for the shelters and things that we don’t need and declutter our homes. It is the main idea of the holidays.

    8. Bruno says:

      I think with the pandemic and everything, nobody wants to celebrate this year

    9. Laura says:

      This pandemic makes me think for what I am thankful for. And we all wish to stay healthy so maintaining the social distance and healthy measures is the most important right now. If we don’t want to spend another holiday in isolation.

    10. Roman says:

      A friend of mine was staying safe and at home. His ex-wife wasn’t. So she is positive now and he and his sun are in self-isolation. So it doesn’t help if some of us are responsible and the other are not.

    11. Manuela says:

      If you are not happy with celebrating the thanksgivings with your closest family then you have to ask yourself what is wrong with you.

    12. Beat says:

      Buying online and celebrating online is a good option for this year

    13. Joseph says:

      Black Fridays are potential risk for spreading the virus. I think they should keep it only online for this year.

    14. Armin says:

      Ordering food is not in the tradition of this holiday. On the other hand staying at home is also not. So as you have said we should start new traditions.

    15. Peter says:

      We have to think about all the people that will be at work for thanksgivings. Especially for the hospital staff. And we have to stay safe to show them our respect.

    16. Paolo says:

      This Thanksgivings I will celebrate with my closest family. I will prepare food at home and I will go shopping where there is no crowd. I just want to stay healthy, me and my family and all of us. And we should all think this way.

    17. Jochen says:

      I was there and I was tested for COVID. I am negative and I want to keep it this way. I keep my contacts on minimum and now I work from home. This Thanksgivings I will stay at home with my family.

    18. Bela says:

      The traveling is not an option now so we will have to celebrate at home and get the best of the holidays.

    19. Eva says:

      We all have to follow CDC guidelines for staying safe and maintain social distancing. It is in our best interest to stay healthy and be able to celebrate all the holidays as we used to.

    20. Alesia says:

      I was never a fan of shopping online but I get used to it to avoid the crowds

    21. Lea says:

      We can all contract the virus so it is better if you can stay close to the people you know and not to visit restaurants and bars even stores without masks. This way you do not only take care of yourself but for the whole family too

    22. Claudia says:

      Great article, we should all think about pandemic and the impact that it has on our lives.

    23. Leslie says:

      I think it is a smart idea to close bars and restaurants to avoid the risky behavior of the people drinking alcohol

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