Digital Exclusive – Party planner’s tips for low-risk, outdoor Thanksgiving dinner

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – Thanksgiving time is around the corner, and this year is a good opportunity to think ‘outside’ the box and get creative with how we spend the holiday.  

The pandemic is unfortunately still a part of our reality, despite roughly eight months of restrictions and precautions.  

With numbers once again rising in our community, it is imperative that we continue to use the same practices we have been using all year to keep ourselves, and those around us, safe.  

Among those practices are those we’ve heard over and over: maintaining six feet apart during social interactions, continuous handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, and wearing facial coverings.  

While gatherings at this time are not ideal and even discouraged, as we have seen with pervious holidays this year, Thanksgiving is sure to bring people together. 

Roughly 3,200 people did not make it to the holiday season so far, in the Rio Grande Valley.  

For survivors and those who mourn a loss (or multiple losses), there is still room to be thankful, and health experts say that it should be done safely

Cameron County Health Authority Doctor James Castillo says there are ways to lower the risk of spreading the virus. “Have open window letting fresh air through the room or even having the gathering outside does a lot to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” he said.  

For those striving to spend the holiday safely, this Thanksgiving may be one full of nuance, but keeping loved ones safe may be worth the extra creative effort.  

Owner of Glitzy Glam Party, Carrie Fullerton of Harlingen, offered us some ways we can rethink how we spend the holiday and practices we can use to replace those that may be contrary to those we use to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  

She started her business in 2000 and like many in the country, she was affected by the pandemic. She had to give up the building where she did business out of, but she says a service she started up right before the pandemic has been steady.  

Photo of rental sleepover tents.

Fullerton rents out sleep over tents and delivers them to homes where children can safely spend some time with immediate family and friends who have also been in quarantine. “Instead of having the big, big, big party, it’s just a little something special that they can still do during the pandemic,” she said.  

As a party planner, she is creative in her thinking and believes this holiday can be modified to fit the needs of the times.  

“It is suggested, of course, that if you’re high risk, that you do it virtual. The second is if you [option] is just do it with your immediate family,” said Fullerton.  

For starters, moving the traditionally indoors meal outdoors can significantly reduce risk. The weather can certainly make or break this plan, but you can stay up to date with the forecast right here on Valley Central

Fullerton arranged three rectangular tables in her front patio, each tastefully adorned with a chic thanksgiving themed piece, demonstrating how one could make the most of the outdoor space they have.  

She suggests having family members who live together sit at the same table, six feet apart from the rest. “If you put your tables six feet apart, you really can still have a lot conversation, still keep distance and still have somewhat of a family Thanksgiving,” she said as she stands between the spaced-out tables.  

The table she placed in between the other two serves as a buffet table, where she recommends only one person serve the plates, so that multiple people do not touch the same utensils.  

Speaking of food, if a full thanksgiving spread feels like a big endeavor this year, she says you shouldn’t feel guilty for changing the menu.  

“If you want to order pizza, order pizza. But If you want a hot meal order it from your local restaurant that are struggling, or if you’re gonna do thanksgiving, make sure it’s done in the aluminum pans so that you can keep them hot and keep putting them in the oven if you need to keep them hot. And then serve snacks and deserts and beverages in the individual cans and the individual packages, just to eliminate risk,” said Fullerton.   

Making cleaning easy can also help. The Glitzy Glam Party owner’s creative eye didn’t let her replace her China décor with disposable plates, but it is recommended that you do.  

Fullerton suggests spraying everything on the table with a disinfectant like Lysol once everyone is done so that you can pick up everything up and throw it away. For added protection, wear gloves.  

Finally, she adds if an outdoor holiday does not do it for you, there is no shame in staying home and not doing anything at all.  

“If you’re an introvert, this is your year,” she laughs, “you get to decide how much you want to get involved with people this year.” 

If you would like to contact Fullerton about her services, you can visit her website, Facebook, or watch her Youtube channel.

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