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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving Safely in Delaware This Year

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Adobe Stock/By Rawf8

Even if Thanksgiving looks a little different this year, there are still ways to celebrate the holiday season safely.


Ready for Thanksgiving, Delawareans? As families and friends across the state prepare for Turkey Day, questions about everything from how many people to invite to what sort of menu to prepare arise. After all, the holiday is full of changes this year. To help you celebrate as safely as possible, here’s what you need to know about the dos and don’ts of Thanksgiving across the First State.

On Nov. 23, Gov. John Carney enacted several new regulations as part of an executive order. Rising cases of COVID-19 throughout Delaware—including hot spots in New Castle and Sussex counties—have prompted the governor’s office to take added precaution.

According to Delaware’s coronavirus website, Delaware has seen an increasing trend of current hospitalizations and percent of persons testing positive. To help lower that figure, restaurants are limited to 30 percent capacity and gatherings at private residences cannot exceed 10 people. While plans for Thanksgiving will have to be altered this year, there are several ways to retain the tradition while being both safe and compliant with Gov. Carney’s executive order.

Low Risk Activities

Thanksgiving is often a time to celebrate gratitude and family bonds. Throughout the pandemic, the safest people to spend time with are the people quarantining together in the same house.

“Cases are spreading most often during social gatherings when people eat, drink and chat with others who don’t live with them – without face coverings or keeping a safe and social distance,” according to the Delaware Division of Public Health’s (DDPH) website. DDPH urges families to have a smaller meal this year and lists a dinner with one’s own household as the safest way to celebrate.

Traveling to celebrate the holiday is strongly discouraged by the state. “Traveling from different locations increases the likelihood that the virus will spread,” according to the DDPH. College students and those returning home for the holidays are advised to get tested before and upon their return, wear a face covering at all times—even around family and friends, and maintain a social distance, especially when eating or drinking.

Try New Recipes for a Household-Only Dinner

With a smaller number of guests, this year is the perfect time to experiment with recipes. Try your hand at making some alternative versions of Thanksgiving staples or take your dinner into a completely different theme. Local chefs from Delaware restaurants offer tasty options like oyster stuffing, smoked turkey with maple and sage and more.

Cook Alongside Family and Friends Virtually

Adobe Stock./By shintartanya

Another way to limit the number of people at a Thanksgiving celebration is to spend quality time with them online. In other words, celebrating from afar is the safest. Setting up a video call to cook alongside your relatives, share recipes, and pass the time can make the altered holiday feel more normal.

Take a Drive to Deliver Food

Sometimes you make a dish so delicious, your family simply cannot go without it. This year, even the act of driving to a nearby relative’s house to deliver a homemade meal can mean a lot. The governor’s office suggests non-contact delivery by putting food in reusable containers and leaving them at the recipient’s door. Of course, wearing a mask and standing six feet away from the door allows for you to catch up with the lucky individual who gets to sample your culinary efforts as well.

The DDPH also recommends conducting a virtual food drive for the Food Bank of Delaware or other charitable causes to give back safely this season.

Of course, if you’d rather take a break from the kitchen this year, several restaurants can fill in for you. Hudson Valley eateries are cooking up traditional delights across the region, with options for contactless delivery and safe pickups.

Moderate Risk Activities

If your holiday plans involve being around people outside of your household, the DDPH recommends not letting your guard down. Wear a face covering in public and around people you don’t live with—even around family. Exchanging air hugs and kisses is safer than the real thing. Remember: you’re just as likely to get COVID-19 from friends and family members as you are from strangers.

Organize an Outdoor Dinner

If you want to host a meal with family members from outside your immediate home, the DDPH suggests setting up a dinner outside. That being said, outdoor celebrations are still limited to 10 people, and duration matters, too. The longer people are together at an event, the higher the risk. The state suggests monitoring your health closely before joining anyone’s table through either a self-diagnostic test or a visit to a testing center just before the holiday.

In terms of the actual event, spacing guests properly can allow for an outdoor meal to be enjoyed safely. It’s an opportunity to get creative with décor and even try things that would not be possible with your normal arrangement. A Pinterest-worthy, nature-themed tablescape would accent the outdoor dining experience perfectly.

Visit an Orchard or Pumpkin Patch

Outdoor spaces are ideal for socially distant fun. If you need some fresh air after a hearty meal, Delaware is filled with orchards and farms that adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

Shop Safely

Black Friday crowds are not ideal this year, so the DDPH recommends shopping online sales, shopping during hours when fewer people will be out and using contactless services like curbside pickup. Shopping in open-air markets while staying six feet away from others and wearing a face covering is also suggested.

If you want to support smaller businesses this year that have been hit hard by the pandemic, consider shopping safely at one of these local stores on Small Business Saturday.

High Risk Activities

Hosting or attending a party with members outside of your immediate household poses a risk of spreading the coronavirus, especially if it’s a large group of people indoors. Large sporting events and crowded stores are also recommended against this year.

While many of the larger holiday events in Delaware have already been canceled or modified to comply with guidelines, it’s still a good idea to heavily research any programming before attending to ensure it complies with the social distancing protocol in place.


Raphael Beretta and Kaydee Hynson contributed to this article.

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