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Let Howard County restaurants help alleviate the stress of a turkey dinner this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving holiday will likely be like no other for many people. With the threat of possibly inviting the unwanted guest — the coronavirus — to dinner, many are choosing to forgo feasting with family or friends and staying home this year. The question then becomes, to cook or not to cook?

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner is a daunting task to prepare. From cooking a perfectly browned, moist turkey to selecting and preparing a multiple variety of sides — mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, cranberry relish, creamed spinach — the meal is a challenge for even the most seasoned cook, let alone a beginner.

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For those wanting all the fixings and not the stress, there are still several options available in Howard County to order a complete Thanksgiving dinner that only requires reheating. While the dinners might not include the drama of past family feasts, they will provide a taste of tradition without all the fuss.

While not a new option for some, dining at a restaurant this Thanksgiving is also a possibility. Several restaurants were planning to be serving dinners on Thanksgiving. With government restrictions changing daily due to the pandemic, be sure to call ahead to confirm a reservation.

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Here are a few options that can provide a Thanksgiving feast for your holiday:

Seasons 52

After offering a successful Mother’s Day family-style to go meal, Seasons 52 in Columbia decided to offer a similar package for Thanksgiving. Featuring a choice of salad, roast turkey, gravy, Yukon mashed potatoes and more, each Thanksgiving dinner box serves four to six people and must be ordered in advance for pick up on either Tuesday or Wednesday. The prepared meals should be stored in a refrigerator before reheating (instructions are provided).

Individual turkey dinners and individual kid’s turkey dinners will be offered for takeout on Thanksgiving Day, too.

“With everything going on, you can have a great dinner at home instead of coming out for it,” said Kelly Flanders, a sous chef at Seasons 52, though the restaurant will be open on Thanksgiving, too. Reservations are required.

Boxed meals are now a feature at the restaurant, Flanders said, with customers having the option to choose different entrees and side dishes from the Green Box menu. All boxes require 24-hour notice.

Victoria’s Gastro Pub

Before COVID-19′s arrival in March, Victoria’s Gastro Pub in Columbia had never before offered curbside pickup or pre-ordered holiday feasts to go. To everyone’s surprise, the pre-orders for Thanksgiving sold out before the closing date.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Chrissy Murphy, general manager. “It was very successful. I can’t imagine we wouldn’t do this again.”

Fifty-five meals were ordered with scheduled pickups on Wednesday. While there will be no curbside meals available on Thanksgiving Day, the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for groups of six or fewer. The Thanksgiving menu offers either a two-course meal featuring a side dish and entree or a three-course meal which includes dessert.

“We have a decent amount of reservations,” Murphy said. “Usually Thanksgiving is one of our busiest days of the year.”

Kings Contrivance

This is also the first year Kings Contrivance in Columbia has offered a Thanksgiving Dinner for eight to 10 people to go.

“It did all right,” said Charles Giles, an administrative partner at Kings Contrivance, when asked about sales of the pre-ordered take-out meal. “We would have done better if it were four to six people now,” as people are encouraged to keep gatherings small this Thanksgiving.

The restaurant will be open for dinner on Thanksgiving and offer curbside meals, too.

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“We’ve always done Thanksgiving. It is the busiest day of the year,” Giles said. “It still will be probably.”

Curbside meals were first offered in June, and Giles believes they are here to stay.

“A lot of it depends how busy we get,” Giles said. “On Thanksgiving or Mother’s Day, when we get a full house, we are not able to do as much. When it is slow, we are able to do different things.”

For now, plans are already in the works for prepared family Christmas meals, Giles said, though the restaurant will be closed Dec. 25.

“Anybody should be able to heat it up,” Giles said. “You just have to present it to your guests. You don’t want to serve it in to-go containers.”

Turf Valley Resort

For over 10 years, Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City has offered its turkey-to-go package for six people, featuring turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing and more. Pre-orders for this year’s meal are due on Thursday with pickup scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’ve already surpassed what we did last year,” said Nicole Motsay, director of marketing. “Normally the majority of sales are done the last three days.”

Alexandra’s Restaurant will also be open on Thanksgiving Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will feature an a la carte menu, and reservations are required.

“We normally service hundreds of people on the property,” Motsay said of Thanksgiving Day. “This year, we will have almost 200. It is definitely not a normal year, but that’s OK.”

Wegmans

The catering department at Wegmans in Columbia has offered a classic turkey dinner to go since the store opened in 2012.

“They are very well received; customers love them,” said George Sauter, a catering associate. “We’ve done it so many years, we have it down to what most people like.”

While the catering department offers four prepared holiday meals — a classic turkey dinner, a hand-carved turkey dinner for six, a hand-carved turkey dinner for 12 or a ham dinner — the department has access to the entire store, too.

Dinners can be made for one to “whatever quantity the customer is willing to handle,” Sauter said. “There are a lot of different options.”

The holiday meals will be available throughout Thanksgiving weekend, Sauter said. A minimum of 24 hours is required for orders. All meals require reheating.

Other options

Here are some other Howard County restaurants offering Thanksgiving specials/to-go ordering:

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