Thanksgiving might look a little bit different this year. Though it might be more difficult to get together in person (at least in the numbers you may be accustomed to!), there are still many ways you can enjoy friends and family on the Big Day. Whether you’re gathering in smaller groups, outdoors or virtually, you can still experience many of the same fun activities you look forward to each year. Yes, you can challenge your cousin to that annual game of chess, watch the football game with your Pops, and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together—even if you’re apart. Here’s how.
1. Think Virtual Celebration
If you don’t already have Zoom or another communication app on your computer or phone, now is the time to install one. It’s simply the best way to include anyone who might not be able to make it to your table this year, and it opens the door to enjoying not just the meal, but also crafts, games, and music together. Learning how to use it is easy, just follow our easy how-to guide. (Bonus: Download a Zoom background like the one below and you could just have the type of Thanksgiving spread you’ve always dreamed of!)
2. Give Thanks
- Preserve traditions that have meaning. What makes it feel like Thanksgiving to you? A round of gratitude? Saying grace before the meal? Sharing memories or roasting your best friends?
- Thanksgiving Tree: Send cut out leaves ahead of time to your guest list and encourage them to find a branch or plant or something to hang their gratitude tags on…then talk about what’s on your tree during the zoom.
3. Turn to Fun Printables
The first steps to enjoying yourself around the holidays? Making sure the little ones are entertained with engaging activities and dedicating yourself to some advance planning so you have more time for fun during the celebration. This printable Thanksgiving Workbook (below) is full of brain teasers and coloring pages for the kids, and loads of Thanksgiving preparation tips and techniques for you.
4. Cook Together
Even if you’ve made all your side dishes in advance, chances are you still have to accomplish the gravy or add a few finishing touches to your meal. Bring your phone into the kitchen and chat while you cook. No need to stress if you’ve left some of the cooking to the last minute. We have all the recipes and techniques you need here.
5. Make it a Movie Night
- Have a movie night. Invite everyone to curl up on their own sofa and watch a movie or binge a TV show after dinner. Use software like the Chrome extension Netflix Party, Amazon Prime’s Watch Party or the gaming platform Discord. Hulu also has a “watch party” feature for many shows. Chat and conversation features enable real-time commentary (and plenty of laughs).
6. Play Games (Online!)
- Get in the game. Games like Charades, Pictionary, Taboo, Chess and TableTopics are very adaptable to online play. Only one attendee needs to have the actual game on hand, and breakout rooms or muting allow strategic side conversations. Try online games like QuizUp or Jackbox; some have participant limits, so guests can take turns.
7. Watch Sports
- Football is back! There are three NFL games throughout the day and evening, so everyone can put on their fan gear, tune in on their own TV and watch together. (Bonus: Rivals can mute each other as desired.)
8. Go For a Little Friendly Competition
- Make up your own fun. Kids’ costume contest? Blue-ribbon dessert contest? Silly spelling bee? Poetry slam? Celebrity trivia beer pong? Scavenger hunt? Pie eating contest? There’s no limit to the possibilities.
9. Make it Meaningful
- Giving thanks can bring others who are less fortunate into view. Take advantage of your Thanksgiving gathering to initiate a conversation about how you can come together to benefit those in need. Consider organizations such as No Kid Hungry (which provides meals to children who need them) and St. Jude Hospital (dedicated to the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other deadly diseases).
- Canned Food Drive: Ask everybody to donate to a local food bank and send a picture to the group of them delivering their cans.
10. Listen to the Same Playlist
- Create a playlist everybody can access on Spotify. We have a nifty one to share right here.
• Then, when the meal is finished, you can turn down the lights, turn up the music, and dance together all night long.