Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and after the stress of the past months, everyone is excited about the holiday season! This year will have to look a bit different from most, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful holiday with your family and safely quarantined household.

Our recommendations are always to follow CDC guidelines and recommendations for keeping you and your family safe during the holidays. The lowest risk Thanksgiving gathering is, of course, a meal with only the members of your family that you are currently living with. To expand the dinner guest list a little, there is always the great option of timing dinner with extended or far-away family for a video call or a FaceTime call! 

If your family is set on not breaking tradition, we have some tips and guidelines below for lowering the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.



The first thing to do is to understand that traveling from out-of-state or from anywhere that requires an airport is automatically a higher risk and should be avoided if possible. The colder months will be the most difficult time of this pandemic, with seasonal allergies, the flu, colds, and the weather making everyone more susceptible to COVID-19. So avoiding this risk might be disappointing and make us miss our loved ones more, but it’s worth it to keep them safe.

The next step would be to do an honest risk assessment with your guests. How safe have they been? Do they work anywhere that has had recent outbreaks? Do they always wear masks and wash their hands? Do they have any symptoms? Have they tested positive in the last month?

If they can positively answer those questions, are they willing to get tested and then quarantine for the two weeks before the event? Testing is not the safety net that we all wish it were. Just because they tested negatively on the day that they got the test doesn’t mean that the next day they didn’t start showing symptoms and could pass the virus along. It may seem a bit extreme to ask people to be this diligent, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two times that involve the most members of our family in the highest risk groups. 


The safest way to eat Thanksgiving dinner together is just like the pilgrims…outside.  

Even though it may be a bit cold in Virginia on Thanksgiving, hosting a Thanksgiving lunch outside at the warmest time of the day is the safest option if you invite guests over from outside your household. 

Plan to have enough room outside to have six feet between households, masks on during the event except when eating, and separate utensils and serving tools for each table. Think about it like turning your porch or backyard into a restaurant: no shared items and plenty of space between everyone. 

Even though it might be cold, resist tempting to put up a tent, or create an enclosed space. You don’t want to create what is essentially an indoor, and therefore more risky, space outside. 


There will be rules that may not be as much fun as usual.

One of the biggest things the CDC recommends is to eliminate alcohol from your Thanksgiving all together. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and would make it harder for some to be as safe as they should be. If zero wine or beer at Thanksgiving is too harsh, try setting a glass or cup limit per guest. Remember, like a restaurant! 


Be prepared to cancel.

Everyone who is RSVP’ing to your Thanksgiving should be ready and willing to either cancel on you or have you cancel on them. Your family’s safety is more important than feeling like you might be rude to your guests. Everyone understands in these unprecedented times; plans need to be more flexible than usual. 

If you are the part of the family that usually travels and your family is putting pressure on you to attend Thanksgiving like usual, don’t worry! We have a couple of easy lines to help you say no without making anyone uncomfortable. 

Say something simple like “I’m not comfortable coming, I’m sorry. Maybe we can FaceTime or Zoom during dinner instead” or, “I really wish I could be there, but I don’t feel comfortable coming this year, we will really miss you.” These let your family and friends know that you aren’t coming without opening up the topic for further discussion.  


Things to do instead of a big Thanksgiving gathering. 

Like we said above, do a virtual dinner! Stream the big game together and watch it live with everyone, play virtual games, or do a quick video call while everyone is cooking in the kitchen to feel more like you’re together. 

Another fun thing to do during the holidays, especially if you are used to cooking for a crowd and won’t be this year, is to cook for your neighbors and high-risk friends who can’t see anyone this year. Drop off some tasty dishes on your elderly neighbors’ doorstep and share the holiday spirit! 

Speaking of dinner menus, why not use this year as the excuse to make that one Thanksgiving dish that you never get to have? Or throw out the rule book entirely and do something other than turkey! 

The last tip we have is to avoid any Black Friday shopping. Crowded stores and small spaces aren’t the safest options for this year, and that’s okay! Set up a virtual black Friday mall at your kitchen table! You can still stay up all night, eat leftovers, and scope out the best deals from home. 


If you or your family have any questions about Thanksgiving safety tips or questions about flu season and COVID-19, please call or portal our office, and we will be happy to help!