The bad news is the CDC recommends against Thanksgiving travel this year and suggests limiting gatherings to the immediate household (meaning only those who have lived together in past two weeks.)
The good news is, for many people this means not having to deal with annoying relatives or pretending to like the green bean casserole.
So how might we celebrate Thanksgiving 2020?
Be Together, But Apart
Keeping the gathering small doesn’t mean not cooking for the extended family and friends. Consider whipping up your usual favorite dishes and offering portions to the rest of the gang for curbside pickup.
Keep it Outdoors
As we’ve learned, the virus is airborne so it’s safer to gather outdoors. Here are some ideas for an outdoor Thanksgiving:
1. Turn Up the Heat
You never know about the totally unpredictable weather these days, but it may be too chilly outside in your neck of the woods to dine outdoors. If it’s not too frigid, consider bundling up in warm layers and placing an outdoor heater by the dining table. Toss some cozy throw blankets over the backs of chairs. Maybe dine around the fire pit if you have one.
Australian Natural Wool Throw Blanket, $89.99. Purchase.
2. Create an Outdoor Dining Room
You don’t need to run out and buy outdoor furniture if you don’t already have some. Consider placing some indoor furniture, like comfy chairs, outside.
If the dining or kitchen table is too big or heavy to easily move, or there’s not enough room for it in the yard or patio, purchase or rent an inexpensive folding table and top with a festive tablecloth.
Paisley Tablecloth, $34.99 Purchase.
An indoor-outdoor folding serving cart on wheels is great for holding and passing serving dishes around, or as a mobile beverage center.
Indoor-Outdoor Folding Metal Serving Cart, $79.99. Purchase.
3. Cook Outdoors: Consider Barbecuing the Turkey
I’ve never done it, but have heard that cooking a turkey on a barbecue grill is a great option: Roast the turkey inside a covered grill for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (11 to 13 minutes per pound for unstuffed bird), adding 8 to 9 briquettes to each side of pan every hour to maintain a grill temperature of 325 degrees F on an oven or grill thermometer.
Weber, makers of various barbecue grills, stresses that indirect heat is essential for a moist, evenly cooked turkey. They suggest creating two beds of charcoal on opposite sides of the charcoal grate and leaving a wide area open in middle. Check out complete instructions for how to grill a whole turkey on a gas grill or how to roast one on a charcoal grill.
Adopt a Turkey
As the side dishes and desserts are my favorite part of the meal, I wouldn’t miss the turkey if it weren’t part of the feast. If you’re game to skip the turkey this year, think about sponsoring a rescued turkey instead of eating one. Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project encourages people to sponsor one of their “spokesturkeys” with a small donation.
4. Set the Table With Festive Linens
Go clean and traditional with white hemstiched placemats and napkins or a colorful vintage inspired tablecloth. And since we aren’t traveling for a while, transport your dinner to France with a Provençale style pattern.
Cotton Vintage-Style Tablecloth, $39.99. Purchase.
5. Maintain a Shatterproof Dinner
Ceramic plates heavily laden with food are heavy and breakable–and that’s one more thing you don’t need to clean up. Consider stocking up on some stylish, good-looking and unbreakable melamine dinnerware that mimics ceramics or set the table ablaze with modern dishes in bright colors.
Colorful Melamine Dishes Set, $21.00. Purchase.
Lacquer Serving Tray, $50.41. Purchase.
6. Set the Space Aglow
Warm lighting, including candlelight, is one of the most important things you can do to set the mood for a comfortable gathering.
Fatboy Hanging Rechargeable Lantern,
$119 $104.97. Purchase.
Portable hanging or tabeltop rechargeable lanterns and flameless battery-operated wax candles cast a soft glow that surrounds the table with warmth.
Fatboy Edison Petit Rechargeable Table Lamps, Set of Two, $169.99. Purchase.
7. Create a Centerpiece
Unless it’s your thing (as it used to be mine), no need to go all out with any sort of traditional centerpieces. My centerpiece from a few years ago included cabbages, eucalyptus, and various paper maché root vegetables that I sprayed gold (below.)
Silk Faux Autumn Leaves, 200 pieces, $7.99. Purchase.
Fill a natural wicker basket with mandarin oranges or apples. If you prefer flowers, place them in an unbreakable vase.
8. Pipe in Some Mood Music
Bring your favorite tunes outdoors with a portable water resistant bluetooth speaker. These small, but powerful little guys deliver deep high quality sound with true 360 degree coverage.
Bose Soundlink Portable Bluetooth Speaker, $299. Purchase.
9. Show Some Gratitude
It may be hard to this year to think about gratitude while there’s a pandemic raging, many have lost jobs or worse, their lives, and our democracy is in peril. I choose nonetheless to find things for which I am grateful. So please join me in passing the gratitude platter this year.
Volunteer Safely and Donate
Help your neighbors feed their families. Feeding America offers ideas for safe volunteering this year:
–Sorting and packing to keep shelves stocked by assembling boxes of food for distribution
–Assisting at mobile pantries, drive-thru pantries, and no-contact distributions
–Delivering meals to the many families sheltering place.
–Volunteering from home. Some food banks have moved their volunteer shifts online and are asking volunteers to help fundraise or spread awareness. Find your local food bank here.
Enjoy a safe Thanksgiving.