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We Asked 5,000 People What They’re Actually Doing for Thanksgiving, and 79% Are Doing the Smart Thing

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Back in March, when stay-at-home orders were put in place all around the country, most of us probably didn’t think things would be so grim nine long months later. And yet, here we are. There have been more than 252,000 coronavirus deaths in America alone, and the daily number of positive cases continues to rise. Which means that gathering is still not safe. Nope, turns out, the virus doesn’t care if it’s a national holiday or not.

A few weeks ago, we spoke with a handful of people to find out what they were doing to safely celebrate the holiday; we heard of people planning small dinners in open garages, organizing virtual potlucks, and forming properly quarantined holiday pods. But we wanted to hear from even more of you — as many Kitchn readers as possible. Because Thanksgiving is usually the biggest travel time of the year and the holiday really centers around gathering and sharing big plates of food, we wanted to know how all of this was impacting your holiday plans. (Note: The CDC did just officially ask Americans NOT to travel for Thanksgiving this year.) Thousands of you filled out this survey and, yes, things are looking a different this year. Also, yes, the word “sad” did come up quite a bit.

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We’ve honestly been a little worried that a lot of people would be throwing caution to the wind and getting together anyway this year. So even though it’s not what anyone wants, we were relieved to learn that 79% of respondents are spending Thanksgiving at home this year. It’s not festive or ideal, but it’s the best way to keep people safe. “I’m so sad to not host my family members from all over, but I would much rather do this than risk their safety,” one reader said.

“We will miss having my 92-year-old mother with us,” said another. “I don’t know how many more Thanksgivings we will have with her. I feel sad about this but very thankful that we all have remained healthy.”

The next biggest piece of the statistical pie (13% of you) said you’ll be going to someone else’s home nearby. While that is not without its risks, it’s less risky for those of you who happen to live in a part of the country where daily positive cases are relatively low. (Compared to places where it’s surging.)

Read more: The CDC’s Guidelines for Celebrating Thanksgiving This Year as Covid Cases Surge

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Most of you (63 percent!) said you’ll be celebrating with the people in your household. Some of you (26 percent) have a COVID bubble — people who you have agreed to see throughout the pandemic, who you’ll be celebrating with. But wait until you see this next number …

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Two! That’s the average number of people celebrating Thanksgiving together in our survey. “My husband and I will be by ourselves,” said one reader. “Our son and friends who usually come won’t be here. I’m sad, but I hope it is only for this year and thankful we are all well.”

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And 55% of you say that’s much fewer people than usual.

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Turns out, half of you are all still making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner — you’re just scaling it down a bit. (Close to 10 percent of you say this will be your first time ever cooking for Thanksgiving! We can help!) Almost 20 percent of you are making non-traditional Thanksgiving dishes, five percent of you are getting takeout from a restaurant, and another five percent plan on getting the meal catered. (We’re not totally sure what the rest of you are doing, but we hope it involves pie.)

Related: Here’s How to Scale Down Your Thanksgiving Dinner, According to Chefs

This post has been a bit somber, we know. And we don’t want to end things like that, so we’re going to close out with something that Alexander Smalls said this past weekend during Kitchn’s Thanksgiving Food Fest: “Go small in a big way.” He said this on a whim and we found it so inspirational. Do what you can to make this year special for your scaled-down group. Make the stuffing. Open the wine. Set the table. Do what you (safely) can to make the day feel a tad special.

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What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? And is it different than usual? Tell us in the comments below.