scorecardresearch Skip to main content

To celebrate or not to celebrate: What are the CDC guidelines for safer Thanksgiving travel and gatherings?

istock photo/iStock

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the coronavirus pandemic still going strong, many are wondering how — or even if — they should celebrate the holiday with their family and friends.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the safest way to have Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people you live with. Once other family and friends get involved, the chance of spreading COVID-19 and the flu increases.

If you’re going to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, CDC officials say you should take precautions to make the celebration safer.

If you’re attending a Thanksgiving gathering, CDC officials say you should bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils. They suggest using disposable plates, utensils and containers, and single-serving products, such as packets of salad dressing and condiments. They also recommend avoiding going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, have a small meal outdoors and limit the number of guests to family and friends who live in your community. If you must celebrate indoors, be sure to open the windows.


Have guests bring their own food and drinks; restrict the number of people allowed in food preparation areas; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.

If you’re sharing food, have one person serve the food and use disposable plates and plastic utensils.

They recommend wearing a mask with two or more layers that fits snugly against the side of your face; stay at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.

It’s important to have conversations with guests ahead of time so everyone is on the same page and follows safety protocols.


CDC officials are urging people to stay home, and if you must travel, be sure to get a flu shot and follow travel restrictions before you go.

CDC officials are also asking the public to consider other alternative options to celebrate Thanksgiving, such as sharing a “virtual Thanksgiving meal” with family and friends who don’t live with you; watching TV and playing games with people in your household; or safely preparing dishes and delivering them to family and neighbors without contact by leaving them on their porch.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.