Retro Woman with Turkey - © unknown via Pintrest

COVID-19 Holidays: The Family Feast Will Change This Year

Here in Canada, we’ve already had our Thanksgiving celebration (always the second Monday of October), but the annual observance in the U.S. is still to come. And we’re starting to see indications that the menus and other details of the traditional Thanksgiving feast are going to change this year, thanks to the COVID-19 crisis….

Extra Turkey Legs - ©

Because our Thanksgiving comes earlier than the U.S. version, I can share some changes that attended our annual fall holiday that might well show up south of the border, too. And some retailers are already responding to anticipated changes in your plans for the big family feast.

Giving us the (smaller) bird…

Walmart, among other big food retailers, has confirmed that it’s already made plans to stock in a different selection of Turkeys reflecting the downsizing of the annual Thanksgiving feast in accordance with ongoing / reinstated pandemic group-gathering prohibitions.

A recent post to the Walmart Corporate website explains:

“COVID-19 continues to reshape how people shop, and in turn, it’s sure to reshape traditions this holiday season. In fact, according to Butterball, the number of consumers who plan to host extended family and friends for Thanksgiving has dropped from 30 percent during a typical year to 2percent this year while those who plan to celebrate only with immediate family has risen from 21 percent in a typical year, to 31 percent.

“With more customers planning for smaller groups, we anticipate a higher preference for smaller turkeys. As always, we’ll have plenty of whole turkeys, but this year, we’ve increased our assortment of bone-in and boneless turkey breasts by 20-30 percent in stores across the country.”

A logical, most-appreciated move. But Walmart stresses that there will still be lots of larger birds available, for those who have large families or who traditionally freeze lots of Turkey leftovers for later use.

And, after a survey of sales figures from this past Easter, the department store-come-supermarket is also extending its holiday specials over a longer period than usual. Another thing the Walmart planners noticed about Easter was that an increase in the number of customers who opted for a Ham rather than a Turkey (perhaps because there were not enough smaller birds available back in the spring to fill the increased demand.

Some other considerations

If you’re roasting a smaller bird, or just a Turkey Breast with no cavity to stuff, make sure you make an appropriately-sized casserole of Stuffing. Make outboard Stuffing anyway, I say, because I just don’t like the goo that passes for Stuffing that comes in pre-stuffed ‘Breast Roasts’.

If a Turkey Leg is especially coveted by one or more of your diners, you can get any number of those you want from the supermarket at the same time you get your bird, and roast them up in the same pan (see photo, above, left).

If you usually make a regular family-sized batch of menu items that only a few of your diners consider truly ‘special’, consider making a smaller amounts of those. At our house they would include Brussels Sprouts, Green Bean Casserole, Baked Squash and a couple of others. With prior consent from your diners, some minor players may be dispensed with altogether.

Do you usually make two or even three different desserts for festive feasts? Reduce that to just one (or two; if one of the usual items is, say, Ice Cream, don’t sacrifice that!).

DO use the special china and flatware is usual. No reason to skimp there! It IS a special feast day after all, and this aspect of respecting that fact doesn’t cost you anything, nor does it waste anything.

Do allow enough time to make your feast and all its parts, even if you have scaled back. No need for you to knock yourself out, trying to make everything on the day of if you plan ahead, and make ahead as usual. You might even find you have more free time throughout the process to spend with your family!

So do make Thanksgiving Day as special as usual – even if it’s smaller and more intimate then usual…

~ Maggie J.