Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving During the COVID-19 Pandemic

November 20, 2020
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2

Health care professionals can continue to educate their communities about the importance of correct and consistent mask wearing, frequent handwashing, and social distancing.

Individuals are being urged by the CDC to avoid travel during the Thanksgiving holiday as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic persists throughout the United States, with more than 1 million COVID-19 cases reported in the United States in the week ending November 19, 2020.1 According to Johns Hopkins University, over 250,000 individuals have died from COVID-19 in the United States.2 The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with members of the same household, and there are a variety of ways to stay connected with family and friends during the holiday.1

The decisions that the public makes can have a huge impact on the trajectory of the pandemic in the upcoming months. Health care professionals can continue to educate their communities about the importance of correct and consistent mask wearing, frequent handwashing, and social distancing.

Thanksgiving Health Tips and Activity Ideas

Even though Thanksgiving may look different this year, it is a great opportunity to start new memorable traditions with loved ones. Hosting a virtual Thanksgiving meal with family and friends who do not live in the same household is a great way to celebrate the holiday in a unique and safe way.1

  • Recipes and Thanksgiving dishes can be shared and individuals can discuss what they are thankful for this year.
  • Members of the same household can watch parades, sports, and Thanksgiving television specials together.
  • Thanksgiving arts and crafts activities and themed books are great for children.

Curbside pickup or home delivery should be used for purchasing food for the holiday. Delivering Thanksgiving dishes in contactless ways, such as leaving them at the doorstep, to family and friends not living in the same household is a great way to start new traditions.1

For those planning to host a Thanksgiving gathering, it is extremely important to discuss health and safety measures with guests prior to the event.1

  • The meal should be held outdoors with guests limited to less than 10 individuals that are close family and friends who have followed social distancing practices.1,3
  • Everyone should stay at least 6 feet apart, and masks should be worn when not eating.
  • Guests should be encouraged to bring their own food and drinks.
  • If food is shared, then one person should serve all of the items and plastic utensils should be used by guests.
  • Frequent handwashing or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a must for hosts and guests.3


  • CDC. Celebrating Thanksgiving. Updated November 19, 2020. Accessed November 19, 2020.
  • Johns Hopkins University. Coronavirus resource center. Accessed November 19, 2020.
  • Infectious Diseases Society of America. Thanksgiving: What you need to know. Accessed November 19, 2020.