When you picture the ideal Thanksgiving, you may think of family and friends gathered around a dining table filled to the brim with turkey, sides, and desserts. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, reimagining our gatherings is something many households are faced with this 2020 holiday season.
The CDC has released its guidelines on celebrating the holidays as safely as possible, with the safest gathering being a virtual holiday. However, if you are committed to hosting an in-person Thanksgiving, there are ways you can mitigate risks to yourself and your attendees.
While there’s still time, take a few days to think through your to-do’s. Do you have enough serving utensils and dishes? Do you need to buy some extra cookware? Do you have hand sanitizer? Can your guests eat with enough space to allow for social distancing? Sit down and make a checklist.
- Minimize your guest list: only invite guests that you have quarantined with, or who you know have been vigilant in their day-to-day lives. Ask them to prepare for the holiday by being as safe as possible and limiting travel and in-person interactions two weeks in advance of your gathering.
- Elderly and immunocompromised guests: unfortunately, the only way to be as safe as possible is to ask them to join you virtually. Set up your laptop or even TV to include them in the festivities.
- Prepare an invite to remind everyone of the safety precautions. For example, guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
- Make sure all your holiday dishes are prepared and served in a contactless way as possible. Wear gloves and/or wash your hands frequently, trying to avoid handling the food.
- If possible, host outdoor rather than indoor gatherings. Even outdoors, require guests to social distance and/or wear masks – or both!
- Map out a timeline of how and in what order you’ll need to cook certain dishes?
- Assess your apartment or home square footage and available space to see how many guests you can entertain.
Invite Your Guests
After you’ve mapped out your space, you can start making your guest list. Who are you inviting? And here’s the most important rule on this front: Be honest and don’t over-invite. Not only will it be stressful for you, but it’ll be uncomfortable for everyone during the occasion. Be realistic with how many guests you can truly entertain and enjoy the camaraderie comfortably!
When you have your guest list outlined, then you can assess your seating. Be sure to make separate tables to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Thaw and Cook in Advance
This one is probably the most obvious, but defrost that turkey early! According to the USDA, to safely thaw your turkey, you need around 24 hours of defrosting in the refrigerator per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. So, if your turkey weighs around 16 pounds, it’ll need about four days to thaw. Now, ask yourself:
- What are some dishes you could prepare ahead of time? After all, there is only so much time on the morning of Thanksgiving. Try to narrow down the day-of cooking as much as possible.
- How much oven space do you have, especially while the turkey is staying warm? Will you have room for guests’ dishes when they arrive?
- Are there dishes you could cook on the stove or in a crockpot instead of the oven? Sautéed vegetables instead of roasted, maybe? If possible, use the stove to free up oven and counter space.
Short & Sweet
Scientists say the longer you are together, the higher the risk. Keep your gathering shorter – under two hours or so and keep an eye on the time. And consider this – you can get tested for the virus before getting together. It’s not foolproof, but it helps!
Prior to prepping for the Thanksgiving meal, you’ll want to prep your apartment.
- Deep clean and “guest-proof” your apartment: Are your guests bringing children? Consider putting valuable items and personal items, such as medication, in your bedroom.
- Rearrange your layout: To accommodate a group of people, you may need to rearrange your furniture. Moving things around is totally normal for entertaining in an apartment. After all, it’s not so much about living in the space on this day. It’s about entertaining as safely as possible.
- Stock up: Make sure your apartment is stocked with the essentials, such as plenty of bathroom tissue, air freshener, paper towels, hand soap, face masks, and cleaning products.
Relax and Dine
When the table and ambiance are finally set, it’s time to wine and dine your loved ones in your own space. Enjoy making memories in your apartment home with those you care about most. Happy Thanksgiving!
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