In 2020, we perfected the art of virtual gatherings. Holidays like Thanksgiving were no exception. But, as is true of our working lives, many of us are not returning to exactly the way our lives (and holidays!) were pre-2020.
Many of us may be fortunate enough to be able to celebrate Turkey Day with loved ones this year. If there are some that can’t make it to your table, however, they needn’t miss out. Let’s set aside time to celebrate with faraway friends—even if a virtual Thanksgiving means we celebrate twice this year.
Yes, you can challenge your cousin to that annual game of chess, watch the football game with Pops, and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with everyone you love—even if you’re apart. Here’s how.
1. 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? You do you!
- 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.
2. Stay Connected
If you don’t already have Zoom, WhatsApp or another chat app on your computer or phone, now is the time to install one. It’s the best way to include anyone who might not be able to make it to your table this year, and it allows you to enjoy not only the meal, but also crafts, games, and music together. Learning how to use it is a snap: Just follow our easy how-to guide. (Bonus: Download a Zoom background like the one below and you could have the luxe Thanksgiving spread of your dreams!)
3. Turn to Fun Printables
Keep kids’ hands and brains occupied until feast time! (It’s a long day.) Make sure tots stay entertained with engaging activities and advance planning so you have more time for fun during the party. This printable Thanksgiving Workbook is full of brain-teasers and coloring pages 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. If you have loved ones who can’t join you this year, bring your phone into the kitchen to chat with them 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 snd muting allow strategic side conversations. Try online games like QuizUp or Jackbox; some have participant limits, so guests can take turns.
7. Watch Sports
- Nothing like “shaking down the meal” by rooting on your favorite football team! As of this writing, there are three NFL games scheduled 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 one another as desired, which we are not able to do in real time!)
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. If it’s nice enough outside, let the scavenger hunt be all around the neighborhood, to work up an appetite!
9. Make it Meaningful
- Thanksgiving should be about those you love in your own home, and those less fortunate you are keeping close to your heart. Take advantage of your gathering to initiate a conversation about how you can help 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: Though most hunger-fighting organizations prefer monetary donations, if there are those unable to do so in your group, that’s fine. Ask guests to donate to a local food bank or 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 (with special treats for the boomers and members of the Greatest Generation in your crew) to share right here.
• Then, when the meal is finished, turn down the lights, turn up the music, and boogie together, staying close even from far away.