Are You Thinking About A Virtual Thanksgiving?

To say that this year has been unconventional is a tremendous understatement, and why should the holiday season be any different. But this year, we need a celebration, gathering together and letting know how much family and friends are loved. While this is definitely the time for this, it might take a little creativity to make bring everyone together in an unconventional way. This is the time for safety and protection, and Thanksgiving will look quite different this year.

virtual meeting

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that families not travel to the homes of their loved ones this year, but spend a cozy evening with your family at home. The CDC has suggested that we only celebrate with those in our household and have the celebration outside. It is also suggested to have only one person serving the food while wearing a facemask and gloves and practicing the six feet distance policy. This will certainly be a different type of holiday season, but with a little creativity and technology, families and friends can still connect and be together although it might be in a virtual sense.

2020 should be the year of virtual gatherings and celebrations so that we can show our love and thanks and still remain safe. You might wonder how that can happen, and we have a few suggestions of ways that we can still stay protected but gathered with those that we love. Here are a few suggestions that might work for you and you can even make a few tweaks or changes to these ideas. Try to keep as many family traditions alive as possible and make this a time of true celebration.

Ideas for a virtual Thanksgiving:

  • Stay home and watch parades or festivities and share the experience with your loved ones through Facetime, Facebook Messenger, or whatever form of communication you use to see friends and family. It’s always been a tradition in my family to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade together and of course, wave at Santa Claus and yell out what we’d love to see under our tree Christmas morning. As families are scattered around the country, they can still enjoy watching the parade together through Facetime or creating a group on Facebook Messenger to invite the others to share the experience with you. It’s not quite safe but at least it is a chance for friends and families to share this tradition together.
  • Another family tradition for us has been to have a Thanksgiving bonfire, and the CDC has even suggested if you can, enjoy your dinner outside and bring those that don’t live with you into the celebration through virtual devices.
  • Many families enjoy getting together and cooking a grand feast and enjoying each other’s company. While you’re basting that turkey or making the dressing prop up your laptop, phone, or tablet and enjoy cooking together even though we may be miles apart. It’s also great in case you might forget what ingredients or spices go into your dishes and this makes it easier to ask how certain dishes are prepared and how to make that meringue just right on your icebox lemon pie (a feat I have only been able to accomplish once since I lost my Mom).
  • If you’re a football fan, Thanksgiving always offers great matchups on the gridiron. Start a group chat or Facetime during the games while you cheer on your favorite team or let the rivalry and trash-talking begin.
  • Have a virtual scavenger hunt through Zoom as each group is given a clue and gets points when they beat their opponents. This is a great way to get the family up and moving and maybe getting rid of some of those calories from the rich food while you’re at it.
  • Many websites have virtual bingo cards that you can print out for those competitive members of the family. Some of the squares may contain such things as having seen a turkey before, racing through the house to search through the pantry for a can of turnip greens, or whatever is on the printables or the bingo cards that you can make yourself. Just make sure to have fun.
  • Another family tradition for us was to have a “thankfulness can” that one of my nephews had decorated American Indian style. We’d each write something we were thankful for on a piece of paper and slip it in the can. After giving it a good shake, we’d take turns pulling out a slip, reading the “thankful” note, and trying to guess who wrote it. This is definitely the year to count our blessings and show our thanks for each other and for first-line defenders and others putting 0their lives at risk to try to keep everyone safe. We should count our blessings every day, and this year, that seems more important than ever.
  • Volunteering at local soup kitchens or handing out food to families in need is an exceptional way to show your thankfulness. You can also volunteer to shop and deliver groceries to elder family members or neighbors to keep them safe at home and not having to venture out into the crowds, putting themselves in danger of catching diseases.
  • Have a remote Thanksgiving trivia game as you learn more about this special holiday and the history behind it. It’s a great way for a little history lesson to go along with the holiday.
  • This can be a great time for a recipe swap and don’t forget to draw those traditional hand-traced turkeys. This is a fun event for the young and old.

But most importantly, don’t let this holiday go by without connecting with family members, neighbors, and others while following safety guidelines. There has never been a year quite like this that we need to show how thankful we are for our family and blessings and show them how much they are loved. Although we might not be together in person, there are so many forms of technology that we can use to bring our families and friends together in a time of Thanksgiving.



Written by Judy Smith

Judy Smith has been a freelance writer and photographer for several magazines and publications around the South, including Social South Magazine, Our Mississippi Magazine, DeSoto Magazine, Deep South Magazine, Country Roads Magazine, among others. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Paralegal Studies, Master’s of Science in Mass Communications, and PhD in Communications at the University of Southern Mississippi. And Judy Smith is proud to forever be a Mississippi Girl.


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