Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us. Since spring, we’ve been learning to adapt to celebrating on smaller scales as COVID-19 remains a serious concern in the United States. We were all hoping that by Turkey Day this would all be a memory, but we still have to adapt for this year’s winter holiday season.
While some of you may be rejoicing to be able to avoid the large family gatherings complete with "passionate" politics or that one relative who always hits the Thanksgiving martinis a little too hard. Others are likely missing their mom’s pumpkin pie or their grandfather’s after-dinner stories. Whatever your holiday traditions are, it is likely you’ll need to make some new ones for this year. Don’t forget to include your four-legged friends in this year’s festivities.
Plan out your day
If you’re going for a low-key celebration at home, plan in advance what groceries you'll need and how you'll get them to help you avoid crowds and long lines at the store. Since your party will be smaller, this is a good time to try out some new, inventive recipes. Have a food allergy or a picky eater in the family? Consider some non-traditional recipes. You might even find a new favorite to include on your table for years to come. If you want to skip the cooking altogether, you can consult your favorite local restaurant to see what they’re offering for takeout. Remember to order enough for some leftovers!
If you want to spend time with family or loved ones and can do so safely, you can make a plan to do so. You’ll need to keep up with your handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing before and during your visit. If you are hosting a small gathering, communicate with attendees in advance and let them know what you expect. This could include:
- Everyone washing their hands as soon as they walk in the door
- Wearing a mask indoors when not eating or drinking
- Keeping 6 feet from other attendees from other households
- Staying outdoors or eating in a tent
- Using disposable utensils
- Asking people to use a clean plate and plasticware for seconds
This is also a good time to double down on the rules for your pets. Remember that not everyone knows raisins and onions can make dogs sick. You can also remind guests of your rules for feeding from the table, keeping dogs off the furniture and making sure that there is always an adult supervising small children around the dogs.
Focus on your furry friend
Since your gathering will likely be smaller and in your own home this year, it’s a good time to get your pup more involved in the festivities. While gravy and green bean casserole should remain off-limits there are plenty of thanksgiving foods that are totally appropriate for your pup.
White meat turkey (no bones or gravy), Plain steamed or sauteed green beans, roasted sweet potatoes, and pureed or roasted pumpkin are all great for dogs so feel free to fix your pup a special plate to enjoy with you.
A less complicated meal also means more time to bake your buddy a special thanksgiving treat. Grab some festive cupcake liners or a turkey cookie cutter and try a new dog treat recipe. We’ve rounded up 15 recipes for you to consider or if you’re looking for a way to use up some extra pumpkin puree here are 9 recipes that star our favorite squash variety.
If you want to celebrate with your best friend in a way that doesn’t involve food, we have a few more ideas for you.
1. Zoom with friends and family
Make plans to catch up with friends and family while the turkey roasts or after your meal. To keep your pup engaged, you could have them show off a trick they’ve been working on or a new toy you got for them. If they’re sleeping off their turkey, allow your pup to relax on the couch with you or on their bed at your feet.
2. Cozy up for a movie night
Since black Friday shopping has started early this year, you may have some extra time on your hands after dinner or on Friday. Grab your favorite and most comfortable blankets and start a movie marathon or Netflix binge as a family. You can choose something even your pup will enjoy. If you want a movie with plenty of dogs in it we recommend Disney+ Lady and the Tramp, A Dog’s Purpose (and the sequel), or the ever classic Marley & Me.
3. Head out for an extra-long walk
If the weather is fairly mild where you are consider taking your pup on an extra-long walk. This will help you both burn off some of the delicious turkeys. Try taking a different route than your usual walk and give your dog extra time to sniff and wander. If your walk route may have other folks on it, remember to wear a mask if you can’t keep enough distance. If you have a small dog or one who is sensitive to cooler weather, you might want to grab them a jacket or sweatshirt. When you get back from your walk, remember that you both need to hydrate. While your dog should have cool, fresh water, you can consider your favorite festive beverage.
4. Start planning or setting up your holiday decorations
We know some folks have had their Christmas trees up since right after Halloween (no judgment - what is time this year, right?). If that isn’t you or you celebrate another winter holiday, Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to decorate your home. Skip the long lines and crowded stores and order your decorations in advance for curbside pickup or delivery. Remember that some decor can be a hazard for your dog so keep cords bundled neatly and any candles away from curious noses, tails, and paws.
Take time to give thanks
Although this year will look different than Thanksgivings past, don’t forget that in addition to being a time for turkey, Thanksgiving is also about being thankful for everything we have. That includes our dogs. At Ollie, we’d love to hear your stories about why you are thankful for your pups this year and every year. Share your dog tales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From all of us at Ollie, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.