How to celebrate Thanksgiving safely


Art by Cat C-D


The year 2020 has been a long and difficult time for everyone around the nation and the world. Although COVID-19 cases are spiking across the country, many families still hope to get together to celebrate the holidays.  

This Thanksgiving Governor Charlie Baker and The Department of Public Health have offered guidelines to celebrate Thanksgiving safely. They have classified gatherings in two categories: lower risk and higher risk celebrations, with recommended guidelines for each. 

Lower risk celebrations are gatherings with people you live with or a small group of people you regularly see. The time spent at the gathering and the amount of people there should be limited. Indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. 

Higher risk celebrations are gatherings indoors with people who are not part of your household. During these celebrations they say you should wear a mask when not eating or drinking, wash your hands with soap and water, socially distance by staying at least six feet apart from others, have a proper ventilation, such as opening windows and doors, and take extra precautions for people who are at higher risk.

Also for higher risk celebrations they recommend you:  

  • Do not share food, drink, or any utensils.
  • Encourage your guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only. 
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household. 
  • Think about having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils, 
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments. 
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. 
  • For 14 days before and after holiday gatherings, minimize  contact with other people, and leave home for essential services like going to work, buying groceries, and appointments with doctors,
  • Obtain a negative result from a molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test, on a sample obtained within 72 hours of the celebration.
  • Seat people with plenty of space from one another while dining.
  • Consider small seating table arrangements in multiple rooms with plenty of spacing, instead of a large family table.

For anyone planning to have people traveling to them, Massachusetts has instituted a set of travel guidelines, which you should be aware of. The state is requiring the Massachusetts Travel  Form be filled out prior to arrival and has a 14 day quarantine requirement or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in fines up to $500 a day.

With all of these guidelines and restrictions in place families may want to consider hosting a virtual holiday dinner with family and friends or preparing Thanksgiving meals to deliver to loved ones, for enjoyment without risk. 

For more information about COVID-19 and Thanksgivings guidelines in Massachusetts please visit these sites: