As of Today, November 23, there are 179,420 COVID cases in the state of Utah and numbers continue to climb. With Thanksgiving just a few days away (a holiday quite literally built on the idea of being in close quarters of friends and family) we wanted to share some tips and recommendations inspired by the CDC and the World Health Organization to celebrate the holiday safely.

The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is at home with the people you already live with. The CDC states “Gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase the chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu.” 

Have a virtual Thanksgiving: I know this sounds kind of strange. I am from Pennsylvania and my entire family is on the east coast which makes getting to them safely incredibly difficult. But instead of dwelling, my family and I have come up with alternative ways to make Thanksgiving fun. We’ve scheduled a time to have a meal together over video chat and are sharing family recipes so we can feel closer while being so far apart. We’re also doing a virtual decoration competition: My sisters and I are virtually showing off our holiday decorations to the judges (our parents) who will choose a winner. Winner gets to rub it in our faces for the next year that they’re the best at decorating.

Virtually watch a show/movie together: Like I said, I am from Pennsylvania, so watching the annual Philadelphia Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade with my family is very important to me. It’s something we do every year together. Luckily, this year I’ll be able to stream the celebration live and virtually watch along with my family. If you’re not from Philly (an easy assumption) you can watch any other annual Thanksgiving celebration, such as Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or whatever football game is happening that day. There are so many ways to watch along with your family. Use Google Hangouts, Facetime or Zoom– which is lifting its 40 minute limit on free calls for Thanksgiving day. Which means endless virtual time spent with loved ones. Oh and, DISNEY+ offers “group watching” on their streaming platform, which means you and your long distance family can watch any Disney movie together this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving COVID Friendly Activities: Celebrate Thanksgiving with the people you already live with. Watch a movie/show (see above!), attempt cooking a Thanksgiving day meal together, and have a game night! May I offer Charades or Pictionary? (Two of the easiest, most fun games to play). If you live close by to family or friends, safely prepare them a holiday themed dessert to drop off at their door, or vice versa.

Host a virtual food drive through the Utah Food Bank: Register as a team captain and encourage your friends, family and coworkers to fill a virtual grocery cart! This is a fun way to stay connected with family while helping others. Or register to run (by tomorrow at 5pm) in the Utah Human Race. All proceeds from the Utah Human Race go directly to help feed Utahns facing food insecurity.

If you are hosting a gathering: Follow the precautions advised by the CDC and the World Health Organization, wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart, wash and sanitize hands often, have guests bring their own food, drink and dining needs (cups, utensils, plates, etc). Keep windows open to help with air flow. If you can, try and have the gathering outside of your home, make it a Thanksgiving bonfire in your backyard! Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.

Look, Thanksgiving, and the Holidays in general, are going to be different this year. While I am heartbroken that I can’t travel home to see my family, I know the risk of traveling and gathering with people I don’t already live with is far too great. We all have to do our part to keep ourselves, our families and our community safe.

To learn more about the CDC’s guidelines to celebrating Thanksgiving and the holidays safely this year, click here.

For more health and wellness, click here.