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Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving


  1. Make the same meal or dishes together with family or friends - just virtually. 
  2. Try something new - spend the day cooking from a new cook book or a fancy recipe you’ve been eyeing online.
  3. Engage multiple senses together with family/friends, even if you’re not in person - listen to the same playlist, use the same candle scent, cook the same baked good, etc.
  4. Host a small gathering outside (if you can handle the cold) - use a fire or other heat source, have guests bring lap blankets and serve warm drinks.  Follow distancing and mask wearing precautions.
  5. For virtual gatherings, look into ways of broadcasting your video feed to your television or larger screen.
  6. Organize a potluck meal exchange for a couple households - each family could make a few dishes and divide them into smaller portions to share with others.  Follow careful sanitation precautions in your preparation and delivery.
  7. Organize a neighborhood, socially-distanced parade.
  8. Instead of a traditional family photo, have family members send pictures of the household members to one person who can make a collage of all the photos - a new, 2020 version of a family photo. 
  9. Send letters or children’s artwork to family you can’t be with - or neighbors or friends.
  10. Participate in a virtual Turkey Trot or organize your own for family and friends.
  11. Donate to local food shelves - check critical needs beforehand or donate cash.  Consider making a regular commitment to yourself to donate in the coming months, not just Thanksgiving.  Food insecurity is likely to increase in the coming months and has already increased during the pandemic.
  12. Host a virtual talent show with family or friends.
  13. If you haven’t already, take time to connect with those in your neighborhood, especially those who may be isolated and not supported locally by family.  Approach in a socially distanced manner, perhaps in an old-fashioned letter.  Get a sense of who might appreciate receiving a pie, etc.
  14. If you’re trying to hold an in person gathering, consider using a Holiday Bubble Checklist, like this one to minimize risk and coordinate with others:  https://www.bcm.edu/pdf/covid-19/Baylor-Holiday-Bubble-Checklist.pdf
  15. Help children decorate the home - and stay occupied - with crafts.  Just search online for Thanksgiving crafts for kids.
  16. Jump-start virtual family conversations by using questions like the ones here:  https://cdn.aliceandlois.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/08140930/thanksgiving.game_.free_.printable.pdf  You can print them and send to family members ahead of time or just read them from online.
  17. Watch a movie together - either just with those in your household or with family virtually - some apps allow you to sync your movie and even chat online during it.
  18. If you don’t want to stay on Zoom (or other apps) all day, plan for specific moments to gather together - hold a toasting session where everyone gives a toast, have just dessert together, or gather for the reveal of everyone’s main course.
  19. Skip the Black Friday shopping (many stores won’t be open and it’s not safe regardless).  If shopping is part of your Thanksgiving tradition, consider online or catalog shopping.
  20. Go for a walk or hike post-dinner.
  21. Spend part of your virtual gathering time sharing family stories.  Stories are a powerful way of binding us together - even when we’re apart.  See this website for more on family storytelling:  https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/familynarrativeslab/family-narratives/
  22. For a non-virtual way of sharing stories, consider writing down a family story of your own (children could help create accompanying artwork).  Send to one family member who then adds their own story and sends all the stories on to the next family member.  At the end, have the last person put together copies of all the stories and send to everyone.  You could do many variations of this.
  23. Have a virtual competition for best decoration or centerpiece.
  24. Hold a virtual scavenger hunt - just search online for ideas.
  25. Appoint a virtual Thanksgiving host - not just in name - the host can prep questions, make sure everyone gets a chance to talk, and segue to another moment - like toasts or a group game.
  26. Bring some formality to your virtual gathering - send invitations (online or paper) with a set start time and even a schedule of events for the gathering.
  27. Create a family slideshow either of past gatherings or of the last year - watch it together to share in the experience.
  28. Take time to reflect on family traditions and get some of them recorded - put together a family Thanksgiving cookbook to share with other family members.  Consider soliciting recipes from family.
  29. Spend the holiday writing thank you cards.

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