Emily Gordon, 49, who works in media relations for the Yale School of Management, is joining her friend, the writer Annie Murphy Paul, and Ms. Paul’s two sons for dinner at their house. Everyone invited has been asked to take a coronavirus test first. The plan had originally been to crack the windows open wide, but the weather is looking cold. Before this, Ms. Gordon and Ms. Paul had only been getting together outdoors.
Fran Keller, 52, an entomologist in Davis, Calif., will also get tested. She’s hosting the first Thanksgiving she can remember — she usually goes to her eldest sister’s, also in Davis, but this year the crowd felt too large for comfort because several family members are high-risk. At Ms. Keller’s dinner will be her son (who lives with her), her daughter and her daughter’s family, though they will sit at separate tables because her daughter has asthma. (Ms. Keller is jokingly calling the second table “the Covid table” instead of the kids’ table.)
“I will hug my daughter, but only if it’s OK with her,” Ms. Keller said.
For many, instead of a celebration with relatives, this year will be spent with a chosen family, whether that’s with a pod or with friends — and sometimes both. Podsgiving (or Friendsgiving) still preserves the spirit of the holiday, with favorite dishes and the feeling of belonging.
Instead of going home to Templeton, Iowa (population: about 300), Chezney Schulz, 28, a hair colorist who lives in Manhattan’s East Village, will host a Podsgiving on her apartment’s rooftop for a dozen friends she’s been hanging out with during the pandemic. (Three of them are her roommates.)
The plan is to buy a cooked turkey (“my oven is too small to fit a turkey,” she said) and make stuffing and traditional — for her — holiday salads. These include an Oreo salad made with the crushed cookies, Cool Whip, and instant vanilla pudding, and an apple Snickers salad (apples, Snickers bars, Cool Whip, caramel, vanilla pudding). There will be space heaters and decorations — maybe a cornucopia — from one of her crafty roommates.
Ms. Schulz, who describes herself as “a silver linings person,” said she’s happy with her holiday plan.
“I feel like because of Covid our friend group has become very close and I’m truly surrounded by people I actually care about,” she said.