How to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Will you need to cancel Thanksgiving due to COVID-19? Of course not! From hosting at home to taking the whole shindig virtual, we’ve got plenty of ideas for you!

It’s turkey season! But this year, due to the COVID-19 environment we’re experiencing, the holiday festivities will look a bit different than before. With some precautionary measures and careful planning, though, you can celebrate Thanksgiving in the era of the coronavirus without compromising on your health or safety. Here’s how:

Planning a Thanksgiving dinner

If you plan on hosting an in-person Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s best to take steps to ensure your day is as safe as possible.

First, consider hosting your dinner outside. If the weather is still relatively mild and you have the space for it, moving a Thanksgiving dinner outdoors greatly reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus, according to the CDC. If an outdoor dinner isn’t possible, make sure your home is well-ventilated during your Thanksgiving dinner by opening some windows and doors.

Second, try to limit the number of attendees. The CDC currently does not impose a limit on the number of attendees at any indoor gathering, but cautions that larger gatherings, by default, pose a greater risk of spread. Keep in mind that you may have state or local laws that do limit the number of attendees, so be sure to review these regulations before creating an invite list. You can look up state and local laws here.

It’s also important to consider your guests’ hometowns when drawing up an invite list. The CDC recommends keeping this year’s Thanksgiving dinners to local guests only. The risk of infection increases when there are guests in attendance who are coming from areas currently experiencing an outbreak.

Finally, while traditional Thanksgiving dinners can last for hours, the CDC cautions that longer gatherings pose a greater risk than shorter dinners. You can cut down on the hours your guests linger around the table by adding a finish time to your invitations.

Attending and Hosting a Dinner

Whether attending a Thanksgiving dinner or welcoming dinner guests into your own home, follow the CDC’s general guidelines for reducing the risk of contagion.

Set up a sanitizing station for guests to use upon arrival or offer to bring one to your host’s home. Include an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for guests’ personal items that may land on the dinner table, such as phones and purses.

If possible, space the seating so there are several feet between each chair.

It can also be a good idea to serve individualized portions instead of passing around a large platter for the entire table to share.

Finally, don’t forget to follow basic hygiene practices at Thanksgiving dinner, such as covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow and scrubbing your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food.

Going Virtual

According to the CDC, anyone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be near others currently has symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or is considered high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should not attend any in-person holiday celebrations.

Here’s how to keep the holiday festive with a virtual celebration:

  • Plan a shared dinner experience in advance. The next-best thing to sitting around a Thanksgiving dinner table together with your loved ones is sharing the same dinner experience on Thanksgiving Day. Sync your dinner plans with the plans of the people with whom you’d be sharing the dinner in non-COVID times. This can include a shared menu or even lighting the same scented candles.
  • Prep together. Video chat with your virtual guest list as you all prep your Thanksgiving dinners in your own homes.
  • Send care packages. If you usually host a dinner, you can drop off a basket of Thanksgiving treats at each of your virtual guests’ doorsteps.
  • Video chat your “shared” Thanksgiving dinners. Eat your Thanksgiving dinners at the same time as your virtual guests. To make it special, you can create a program for the evening with highlights, like opening and closing remarks, a shared song and a short slideshow of family pictures.

USAgencies Credit Union wishes you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

5 Online Resources for Autumn

Crisp breezes, breathtaking displays of fiery-colored foliage, pumpkin spice lattes — what’s not to love about autumn? To help make the season that much better, here are five online resources that can help you enjoy it to the max.

Fall Foliage Prediction Map (website)

If you’re planning a road trip this autumn or just wondering when the foliage around you will hit its peak, you need to check out this map. The foliage prediction map uses statistical models to predict when the foliage will be most striking in every county in the country. It’s all you need to enjoy the best of fall.

Corn Mazes America (website)

What better way to spend a cool fall afternoon than by getting lost inside an enormous corn maze? This incredible website has taken all the guesswork out of corn mazes with its massive database of corn mazes from all around the country. You can browse corn mazes by state or town, find one on a map and download directions for easy travel. Corn Maze America will help you find the maze you need for an epic autumn adventure.

KOA (iOS) (Android)

Get ready for the camping trip of a lifetime! With its wide selection of campsites, complete with search tools, directions to each location with built-in navigation and several filter options for each search, the KOA  (Kampgrounds of America) app will help you bring your fall camping trip to the next level. Many of the app’s features function offline as well, including campground information, search tools and driving directions, making the app the perfect accompaniment for a trip out into the deepest wilderness. The campgrounds await you!

BigOven (iOS) (Android)

The dwindling sunlight and falling temperatures of fall make it the perfect time of year to break out the mixing bowl and whip up some hearty homemade goodies. And if you need some tried-and-true recipes to make it happen, there’s an app for that! Download BigOven for access to more than a half-million recipes that will help you bring autumn into your kitchen. On the super-popular app, you’ll find the secret to making delectable pumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes and gravy and so many other fall favorites. Don’t forget to check out the other fun features; like money-saving hacks for using up your leftovers, a grocery-shopping organizer and so much more.

LeafSnap (iOS) (Android)

Are you a genuine tree-hugger who always wants to learn more about the beautiful foliage around you? The info you need is just a download away! LeafSnap  is a free app that can identify 90% of all known species of plants and trees. Just snap a photo of a leaf and the app will identify the kind of tree it came from in seconds. Your nature walks will never be the same!

The Importance of Being Financially Fit

Are you ready to stretch those financial fitness muscles? We hope so, because it’s time to get financially fit!

Being financially fit means living a life of complete financial responsibility. The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), also known as the Financial Health Network, defines four basic components of financial health: Spend, Save, Borrow and Plan. These components reference everyday financial activities. As such, every choice you make in terms of these four activities either builds or detracts from your financial fitness. Like physical fitness, you can beef up those fitness muscles a little bit more each day.

Being financially fit is crucial for a well-balanced, stress-free life. Here’s why (and how):

Expand your financial knowledge

A financially fit person is constantly broadening their money knowledge. They read personal finance books and blogs, attend financial education seminars and are aware of the evolving state of the economy. This enables them to make monetary decisions from a position of knowledge and power, leaving much less up to chance or luck.

Stick to a budget

A financially fit person knows that tracking monthly expenses is key to financial health. They are careful to set aside money from their monthly income for all fixed and discretionary expenses and to stay within budget for each spending category.

Minimize debt

A financially fit person is committed to paying down debts and seeks to live debt-free. Constant budgeting, ongoing financial education and planning ahead enables them to make it through the month, and through unexpected expenses, without spiraling into debt.

Maximize savings 

A financially fit person prioritizes savings. In fact, savings is a fixed item on their monthly budget instead of something that only happens if there’s money left over. This allows them to think ahead and build a comfortable nest egg or emergency fund. In turn, having a robust safety net means sleeping better at night knowing there’s money available to cover unexpected expenses or a change in life circumstances.

Maintain complete awareness of the state of your finances

A financially fit person knows exactly how much money they owe, the accumulated value of their assets and the complete sum of their fixed and fluctuating expenses. This awareness takes the stress out of money management, allowing them to make better financial choices.

Maintain a healthy credit score

A financially fit person knows that an excellent credit history and score is a crucial component to long-term financial health. They are careful to pay all bills on time, hold onto their credit cards for a while and to keep their credit utilization low. This enables them to qualify for long-term loans with favorable interest rates, which saves them money for years to come.

Help your money go further

A financially fit person does not waste large sums of money on interest charges for purchases made using borrowed funds via credit cards or loans. They live within their means and only use these resources for purchases they can actually afford, or for large, long-term assets, like a car or a house. This means they have more funds at their disposal to help build their wealth through savings and investments.

Create concrete financial goals

A financially fit person has long-term and short-term financial goals. This enables them to keep their focus on the big picture when making everyday money choices, empowering them to actually realize their financial dreams.

Achieve financial independence

A financially fit person is independent. They don’t rely on loans from friends or family members to get by, and they don’t need to pay with plastic at the end of the month because they ran out of money. Their well-padded emergency fund means they don’t depend on their monthly income to put bread on the table, either. By sticking to a budget, prioritizing savings and maintaining an awareness of their finances, they are strong, secure and completely independent.

Being financially fit means living a life without battling anxiety about getting through the month or stressing about the future. You can achieve financial fitness by committing to making choices in each of the four components of financial health (spend, save, borrow, plan) that are forward-thinking and help to build your financial wellness.


Are you looking for more financial tips? What if you could get paid to learn about finance? Well, now you can. USAgencies Credit Union has partnered with Zogo, an app where users earn money while they learn about money. Download the free app using code “USACU”, and earn while you learn about finance!

Connect with us today at 503-275-0300 or email info@usacu.org to learn more.

Can Halloween be Celebrated Safely This Year?

Q: With COVID-19 still disrupting all kinds of plans, I’m wondering about Halloween celebrations this year. Is there any way to safely celebrate Halloween in 2020?

A: How to safely celebrate this year is a question that’s frightening Halloween lovers all over the globe. Fortunately, the answer is not all that scary. With some flexibility and wise precautions, Halloween can still be a frightfully fun day for the entire family.

Here’s all you need to know about celebrating Halloween safely in the era of COVID-19.

Should I take my family trick-or-treating this year?

According to many medical health professionals, the answer depends largely on where you live.

“In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread and circumstances haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea,” says Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group. “In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s OK to plan to trick-or-treat, but it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year.”

What safety precautions do I need to take when trick-or-treating?

If you plan on taking your kids trick-or-treating this year, or making the rounds yourself, here’s how you can keep safe from infection:

  • Stick with family: The risk of transmission grows exponentially when people spend extended time with members of another household. It’s best to keep your trick-or-treat group to family only this year.
  • Keep it small: If your child insists on trick-or-treating with neighbors or friends, keep the group as small as possible. Kesh recommends limiting groups to three or four members and, preferably, sticking with families that are also careful about social distancing.
  • Mask up: Halloween costumes make following this coronavirus precaution super-easy.
  • Keep face-to-face exposure to a minimum: If possible, trick-or-treat from a distance. Knock on doors and then retreat down the steps. The homeowner can toss you your treats instead of handing them over. The less close interaction you have with others, the lower your risk of infection.
  • Sanitize often: Keep some hand sanitizer with you at all times and soap up after touching germy surfaces, like doorknobs or communal treat baskets. It’s equally important for everyone to wash up once you get home, especially before digging into any treats.

How can I safely invite trick-or-treaters to my home?

The thought of hordes of kids traipsing through your doors and reaching grubby hands into a communal basket of candy might scare you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock your doors on Halloween night and be the neighborhood party-pooper.

“The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible,” says Molly Hyde, an infection control practitioner. “If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy.”

If you’d like to be extra cautious, you can avoid face-to-face interaction with trick-or-treaters by setting up a bowl of candy outside and letting your visitors help themselves. Keep a bottle of sanitizer nearby, or a box of disposable gloves, with a helpful sign to remind kids to keep their germs to themselves. You can also choose to ditch the bowl and space individual treats out on your front porch with a sign instructing kids to take one.

At the end of the night, it’s best to disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers, outdoor railings and any other surfaces that might have been touched by dozens of trick-or-treaters.

Can I throw a Halloween party this year?

Crowded indoor parties are out, but with a bit of creativity, you can still celebrate Halloween with friends. Here’s how:

Choose an outdoor venue, such as a local park, and invite your friends to your Quarant-een bash.

Have everyone bring along their Halloween costumes, comfortable lawn chairs, hot autumn beverages and individual party bags, or packaged treats, in their trunks.

At the party, have everyone park so the trunk of every car is in full view. Set up the chairs at safe distances and let everyone show off their costumes.

Pop open the trunks for “trunk-or-treating,” corona-style!

Don’t let COVID-19 scare all the fun out of Halloween this year. With the proper precautions, you can spook the entire neighborhood this Halloween and still keep it safe.

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