News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Thanksgiving ideas for a disrupted 2020

Thanksgiving is only a week away. But this year celebrations are likely to be far different from those in the past. Because of COVID-19 and the new restrictions in place, most of us won’t be able to gather with those close friends and family for this special meal.

If you’ve decided not to cook for Thanksgiving this year — or at least not to cook much — you’re not alone.

With the CDC saying that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others, many of us will be observing a day of gratitude that’s smaller, quieter, and, if you think about it, less stressful.

This Thanksgiving is an opportunity to think outside the box. It may inspire you to throw out your traditional playbook and opt for an entirely new menu.

Try preparing scaled-down meals for your household rather than prepare jumbo turkeys, loads of stuffing, pounds of mashed potatoes, and two or three pies.

You can still make Thanksgiving memorable — even extra special — by serving a unique and tasty meal for those in your home, even if it’s just two of you.

It’s the year to break free of familiar traditions and choose something different to cook. If you have a growing stack of recipes you’ve saved or a new cookbook you’ve yet to try, now is the perfect time to rummage through them and choose dishes that inspire you. It’s much easier to try new recipes when you have fewer people to please.

This Thanksgiving could see a popularity for turkey breasts, which are a smaller serving option. A whole turkey can be a ton of food for one or two people. Other main dish options could be Cornish hens. For the traditionalist who wants a whole turkey, why not get the smallest turkey you can, and have the butcher separate the breasts from the legs for two meal options?

As far as desserts go, instead of a whole pie, try making your favorite pie into single-serving cupcakes that you can also freeze and enjoy later. (See Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes recipe.)

This year try a virtual dinner with family and friends. If you live close to them, a fun way to piece together your Thanksgiving dinner is by organizing a meal exchange between households. After deciding on a menu together, you can add all your recipes to a shared spreadsheet (or something similar). Each household signs up for a dish or two to make in quantity, divides them up into equal portions and delivers them to the other households on Thanksgiving morning. The spreadsheet helps keep everything organized so no one accidently makes the same dish twice. You can also add a column for allergies or dietary restrictions, which is helpful when you’re juggling multiple dishes.

Once the drop-off is complete, everyone can enjoy their meals together on a video call.

This holiday is especially poignant due to the pandemic, as many people have lost loved ones or are experiencing financial hardships. Consider volunteering your time or donating money to an organization or nonprofit that’s meaningful to you instead of having a family feast.

Preparing food for friends and neighbors (especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19) and delivering it to them without person-to-person contact is another great way to help others this holiday.

While the ongoing pandemic has canceled or postponed events, there are some annual traditions that will still take place — although with a new twist. One such event is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The beloved parade is going to be pre-taped and on TV without spectators.

Many of us will miss our family and friends, but maybe this is going to allow us all to create some new traditions!


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