This year has been the longest decade most of us have ever lived through, each month presenting new reasons to prioritize self-care and employ an arsenal of mental health tools. This holiday season, global health crisis and ongoing social and racial uprising will result in new holiday traditions, bringing problems, more questions, and changes to every aspect of American life.
From now until the New Year, it’s a time of reconnection, celebration, and abundant generosity. It can also be painful, challenging, and lonely. The 2020 holiday season requires new, creative solutions and a flexible attitude.
How Thanksgiving is executed this year will set the tone for the balance of the season. There is a presidential election, travel restrictions, a variety of COVID-19 responses, and a rise of economic and food insecurity to navigate. Some will hardly be affected by these challenges; others will eliminate the Thanksgiving holiday from their annual celebrations.
Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle. Thanksgiving 2020 means fewer plates at the dinner table, smaller turkeys, first-ever Zoom celebrations, Thanksgiving takeout, or an al fresco feast.
Here are four ways to celebrate.
Thanksgiving via Zoom
Connecting through Zoom and other platforms present challenges like a bad WiFi connection, terrible video quality, and those people who don’t know how to mute their microphones, ever. How does this work for a holiday meal? Two words: good planning. Make sure the plan includes a designated leader, a shared theme, menu, and timeline. This strategy works for a Friendsgiving as well. Choose a virtual “head cook," such as an auntie, and have a preholiday cooking session so everyone can ask recipe and cooking questions.
Pro tip: Do a little early prep to reduce day-of stresses. You can prepare menu items like gravies, soups, and most desserts a day or two ahead.
» READ MORE: How to host a virtual wine tasting
Al fresco Thanksgiving
With new CDC Thanksgiving guidelines and Pa. Health Secretary Rachel Levine advising that you keep your Thanksgiving guest list to those people who live in your household, an outdoor feast may be a preferred alternative. If you typically have a full house for Thanksgiving, you’ll still need to reduce the number of diners to provide six feet of separation between family groups. An outdoor feast is an option for most gatherings, even in colder weather. Give your deck or patio a scrub, consider purchasing a fire pit or outdoor heating lamps, and polish up your hot toddy recipe.
Pro tip: Set up a hot beverage station! Hot apple cider and hot chocolate are crowd-pleasers that stay warm in a slow cooker or large thermos. Offer adult and kid-friendly mix-ins like marshmallows, whipped cream, bourbon, and rum.
Cases of COVID-19 are increasing nationwide, so many of us will opt to stay home and host smaller gatherings with just people in their household. A smaller meal with fewer people is an opportunity to flex creative muscles and experiment with new recipes, new techniques, or even become more lavish with your menu. Smaller celebrations also mean figuring out how to turn down the volume on some of your go-to dishes. For example, roast a turkey breast or drumsticks instead of a whole turkey or switch out the turkeyfor a roasted chicken.
Pro tip: Taking the time to review a recipe is a great habit to adopt, so before you do your shopping, spend a little time reading through to scale down your recipes. You won’t want to try to shrink portions while you’re cooking on Thanksgiving Day.
If the idea of staying in your favorite pajamas and watching Netflix appeals to you, then ordering your Thanksgiving dinner through a delivery service is likely the best fit. Take this as an opportunity to explore and support your local restaurant scene and eat something new without experimenting at home. With the addition of alcohol delivery, you can order everything from wine to tequila to pair with your meal. If it’s dinner for two or three, then think about adding a signature cocktail and making your own sweet potato pie.
Pro tip: Splurge.