Thanksgiving During COVID: Tips for Staying Festive and Safe

By VICTORIA BALTZ

Let's face it, Thanksgiving 2020 is going to be peculiar. As we face the challenge of staying socially distant during the holiday but not missing out on our aunt's famous sweet potato casserole, we must get creative in order to stay safe. Even with downsizing our gatherings, we still need to think about how to minimize contact at our Thanksgiving festivities. 

In search of helpful holiday tips, Alexis Willis, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at the Chattanooga Chamber, sat down with Amanda Nelson Varnell, Founder of DishT'Pass and Cooking for Your Week, on Nov. 11 for the INCubator's program, Experience Talks. Experience Talks is a monthly program hosted by the INCubator at the Hamilton County Business Development Center on the first Wednesday of each month at noon. The INCubator invites successful entrepreneurs and business leaders to share their expertise with local entrepreneurs and small businesses owners.

Though Nelson Varnell's large event-catering business had to permanently close its doors this year, she remained a resilient entrepreneur through her love for food, and has started a new business that focuses on enriching the family dinner experience. She specializes in creating recipes and coaching people to systemize their dinner table through grocery lists, seasonal recipes and creativity. Her book, Cooking for Your Week, comes out in January 2021 and will aim to help family dinner gatherings enjoy flavorful and memorable meals. In November's Experience Talks, Nelson Varnell shared her experience as a chef, mother and entrepreneur in 2020.

In addition to sharing her tremendous entrepreneurial journey, Nelson Varnell put the focus back on food and provided tips for celebrating a safe and festive Thanksgiving:

  • Lean on local businesses to cook part (or all) of the meal  
  • Make a plan and shop early 
  • Pre-package sides or desserts for individual servings  
  • Avoid buffet style serving and consider lunch box style meals 
  • Have a designated masked and gloved food server  
  • Eat in a well-ventilated area or have a picnic outside
  • Wear a mask when not eating and wash your hands

Watch the full video of Nelson Varnell's talk above or at this link.