Everything has looked and felt incredibly different in 2020, and unfortunately the same will likely hold true for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. While the CDC has issued some stringent guidelines with regard to hosting the holiday at home, one way you might mitigate the risk is to host your event outdoors. It’s a way to surround yourself in the vibrant colors of the season while still spending time with loved ones – even if it’s at a slight distance. These are historic times, ripe for creating a memorable gathering. Here are a few suggestions of ways you can observe the holiday while taking special precautions to protect the ones you love:
- Table for Four?: While everyone sitting elbow to elbow at the long dining room table with the extra leaf from the attic may be a Thanksgiving tradition at your home, to be on the safe side, you might want to set up several tables to accommodate family members from different households. You can still decorate each table to give it a cohesive feel and make place holders, so everyone knows where to sit. Be sure to set the tables at a safe distance of six feet or more apart.
- A Different Kind of Place Setting: You may want to set each table with antibacterial gel at centerstage, along with a dedicated set of plastic serving tongs, spoons and forks, so they can serve themselves from the buffet without everyone using the same serving utensils. Although reusable plates are the green alternative, for this occasion, you may want to use heavy duty recyclable paper plates and single-use utensils. You can break out the good china again NEXT Thanksgiving. Have the tables visit the buffet one at a time to encourage social distancing. If a family member wants to bring their own food for added safety, don’t feel offended. These are unprecedented times and it’s clear that they still want to be part of the celebration.
- Drinks Anyone?: Have individual beverages set on ice in a decorative drink cooler. For those who wish to have an adult beverage, you may want to supply 50ML bottles of their favorite or ask them to BYOB.
- Goodbye Goosebumps: One of MANY benefits to living in Georgia is our milder temperatures. Although it will be chilly in late November, if you can sit in the stands at a high school football game, you can spend a couple hours outdoors to celebrate this beloved family holiday. Plan your meal around the warmest time of the day. You could invest in a firepit (if you don’t already have one) or in a patio heater – then place the tables around it. Make sure everyone knows you’re hosting this event outdoors so they can dress appropriately. The prepared food can be kept warm in aluminum pans above chafing fuel cans.
- Share Your Blessings: To encourage a sense of fellowship among guests at different tables, you can take turns going around the tables sharing those things for which you are all most thankful. Assign the person with the best penmanship to jot all these things down on a small pumpkin in black sharpie. It’s a great visual to see a pumpkin filled with so many blessings. You can also go around the tables and ask guests to share their favorite memories of Thanksgivings past.
- Zoom in Loved Ones: For those unable to attend your gathering – due to high risk factors or distance, you may want to make a Zoom or Facetime call part of your festivities. You can travel around the outdoor celebration space with your cell phone – keeping a safe distance yourself – collecting greetings and Happy Thanksgiving wishes from all those in attendance.
- Add Ambiance with Music: Having music playing in the background will enhance the festive atmosphere, so create a playlist that either fits a theme like love or family or reflects all the different age groups represented. You can also string lights and add lanterns at each of the tables to enhance the mood further.
- Potty Breaks: Encourage your guests to take turns going into the house when nature calls. Consider investing in a no touch soap dispenser and have paper towels in place of hand towels. You can also post tips for bathroom safety – such as use a paper towel to flush the potty and another to open the door.