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Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020

Like just about everything in 2020, the holidays are going to look a little different this year. The CDC is recommending limiting travel and indoor gatherings which will really affect how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Switching to a virtual celebration seems to be the safest bet.

If the idea of celebrating Thanksgiving virtually makes you sad, you’re not alone. However, there are some things you can do to connect with your family and friends virtually and you might make a new tradition along the way. We’ve gathered 7 easy-to-incorporate virtual ideas to help you have an almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Care Packages

A good way to include everyone from far away in the festivities is to drop a care package in the mail. Think of things you would normally put on the table to include in the box.

  • Festive napkins (think turkeys and pumpkins)
  • Fresh spices or other special ingredients for family recipes
  • A sweet treat (fall trail mix packs well)
  • A homemade centerpiece from the kids (you know the paper bag stuffed turkey)
  • Name cards made by the kids

Gratitude Toast

Designate a certain time to gather on Zoom and raise a glass to toast. Send prompts out ahead of time so participants don’t feel awkward sharing. Stick with the old standby of saying something you’re thankful for or try something new.

Send a signature cocktail recipe to everyone ahead of time and you could be toasting with the same libation. You could even include the ingredients and recipe in your Thanksgiving care package!

Watch Something Together

If no Thanksgiving is complete without watching the big game or the Macy’s parade, do a virtual watch party. There are some great apps out there where you can watch something together and use the chat function to interact with everyone. Try Airtime or NetflixParty.

Game Night

Once the feasting is over, how about a virtual game night? There are fun online games you can play together over your Zoom call:

  • BINGO—send cards ahead of time or a link to printable cards like this one. For younger kids, make a Thanksgiving-themed card with pictures.
  • Scattergories—this is an easy one good for all ages. Use a free category generator and then use a timer while participants record unique ideas for each category starting with the chosen letter.
  • Trivia—dust off the Trivial Pursuit cards or use a free trivia generator. Participants can put their answer in the Zoom chat or use the honor system.
  • Drawing—Remember Pictionary? Everyone love drawing games and Pictionary is easy to do virtually, especially if you can share your screen and have a drawing app on your computer. Also, Jackbox has lots of online games that are easy to play over Zoom.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Households compete to find items around the house. This is also a great excuse to get the kids outside to enjoy the last bits of fall.

Recipe Swap

A few weeks before the big day, get together virtually with friends and family and agree on a menu. That way, everyone will be eating the same thing, including your traditional family recipes. You could even plan to cook together virtually—sometimes we still need those little tips from Mom!

Or, divvy out family recipes and draw names out of a hat so each person makes a different thing. Then, on Thanksgiving, everyone shares what they made and how it turned out.

Look Ahead

This is a great time to plan ahead to the next holiday when you will be able to get together. Talk about next year, who will host, what dishes you’ll try, and plan as much as you can.

You can also get a jump on those December holidays by decorating the house and turning on the holiday music! Since you have a captive audience, why not plan your Secret Santa swap. You can load everyone’s name into a wheel app like Secret Santa App, which does everything for you. Then, let the shopping begin!

Family Photo

As things wind down, don’t forget to snap (or screenshot) a family photo. The quality might not be great but it will be a great reminder of how crazy 2020 was and you’ll hopefully look back with a chuckle.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your Thanksgiving, there is hope. Maybe during this off year, we’ll get back to basics, spend time with our little unit, and come up with new fun traditions to bring to next year’s celebration.

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