Gathering for Thanksgiving? Read these COVID safety tips

Wed Nov 18 2020

We have a lot to be thankful for, but one thing’s for sure: this Thanksgiving will be unlike any other because of the pandemic. And if you’re like most folks, this time of you has you wondering how to safely celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that gatherings with friends and family increases the chance of spreading COVID-19. It also warns against traveling, noting "Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19." If you’re planning on having a family gathering beyond your immediate household for a Thanksgiving feast, consider these tips to keep everyone safe during and after the holiday.

Thanksgiving safety tips

Before your family gathers, set expectations if you’re following CDC recommendations and social distancing guidelines. That way your family can prepare in advance, which can reduce friction during the feast.

Here’s what the CDC suggests.

1. Wear a mask

You’ve heard it a million times and you’ll probably hear it a million more, but wearing a mask is essential. The CDC recommends using cloth masks because they reduce the spread of the infection.

And it benefits everyone.

When you wear a mask, you have less exposure to infectious droplets. If you’re asymptomatic, a mask reduces the chance of inadvertently spreading the virus.

The bottom line: if you aren’t eating, wear a mask. When you aren’t wearing your mask, put it in a plastic bag in your pocket to prevent it from accidental exposure to germs.

2. Maintain 6 feet of social distance

Of course you’ll want to hug Grandma at the holiday feast, but if she isn’t part of your everyday household, that increases the chance of her getting sick.

Assume anyone can be a carrier of COVID and maintain your distance – both while socializing and eating. Spread chairs apart so that everyone has a safe personal space.

3. Wash your hands

The best way to avoid getting sick and spreading the illness is to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands. As the host, make sure there are plenty of disposable towels in the bathroom so that everyone isn’t using the same hand towel.

In addition to washing your hands in the bathroom or before handling food, wash them after touching high-contact surfaces and objects, like door knobs, keys, or belongings from outside your home.

It’s also smart to keep hand sanitizer in the bathroom, dining room, and kitchen.

4. Bring your own … everything

It may sound unfestive, but the CDC recommends that guests bring their own food and drinks so there’s less risk of contamination. We know that might not be practical for everyone, but if your family is willing, try it.

For example, it might be easier for family members to come with their own drinks or appetizers while you handle the main meal.

5. Pre-plate dinners

If your family usually does Thanksgiving buffet style, this might be the year to avoid it. The CDC recommends having one designated person to handle and plate the food to limit exposure. That limits the amount of folks touching utensils and potentially spreading germs.

6. Choose single-serve options

Purchase single-serve items where possible, including pre-dinner snacks (think: crackers or chips, soft drink cans rather than two-liter bottles, and single-serve condiments and salad dressing. That will reduce the number of people handling jars and bottles.

If you can’t provide single-serve options, assign one person to handle serving items out of jars or bottles to reduce how many people contact them.

7. Use disposable items

While “good china” may be for family feasts, this is the year to use disposable serving trays, paper goods, and plastic utensils. Not only will this help reduce virus exposure, but it will also make cleaning up easier for everyone. Maybe you can spend that time socializing instead – socially distanced, of course!

8. Host the meal outdoors (if possible)

There’s less risk of transmission when you’re outdoors in the free-flowing air. It’s also easier to social distance in a backyard. If you do need to stay indoors because of the weather, try to open as many windows as possible to keep airflow moving.

9. Limit guests

Limiting guests really means limiting households. While some cities say to limit guests to five or 10 at the most, think about limiting other households coming in. Everyone in a household has the same exposure level. By limiting the number of households, you reduce the exposure even when you have more people. For example, two households with five people each has less exposure than five households with two people.

All of us at Kin wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Stay healthy, and enjoy the time with your family, however you choose to celebrate.