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Virtual Thanksgiving: 8 Ways to Connect This Season

Simple ideas to spread holiday cheer and be together with family and friends

Allison Holm
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Published on: November 13, 2020

Family-Zoom-Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been a time to gather together with family. A time for love, laughter and high hopes. While this year had been anything but traditional, and the word “gather” feels much different, love and family has yet to be defeated. We are always finding new ways to connect, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Here are eight special ways to celebrate the holiday, 2020-style.

Thanksgiving in a box

It’s like the best of Thanksgiving in a to-go box. Have your kiddos decorate care packages and stock them full of Turkey Day favorites: pumpkin spice-scented candles, drawings, photos, handwritten recipe cards, and DIY table centerpieces or napkin rings. Toss in some homemade cookies and game day snacks, and you’ve created a little slice of Thanksgiving from your table to theirs.

Pre-funk

Part of Thanksgiving fun lies in the preparation. Schedule a phone call or video call with family members and brainstorm holiday menus and table décor ideas. Kids can practice outlining shopping lists, researching fun recipes, and getting the inside scoop on Grandma’s secret stuffing recipe.

Make a book

Before the age of Pinterest and Hello Fresh, there were good old cookbooks and recipe boxes, stocked with dog-eared favorites and soup-stained 3x5 cards. Bring back the nostalgia and make a family cookbook or recipe box. Ask relatives and friends to jot down their favorite recipe and email or snail-mail them to you. Photos of or stories behind special recipes are a plus! Use your favorite online photo printing service to create your very own family cookbook. Printed copies will make perfect Christmas gifts! 

Share the cooking

For so many of us, Thanksgiving conjures up cozy memories of cooking together. Kids perched on the counter while grandma whips up batches of cookies, in-laws and family friends peeling potatoes or mixing craft cocktails. While we forgo large gatherings this year, we can still cook together. Schedule a family cooking class, pandemic-style. Ask a relative or friend to don their chef’s hat and walk your Zoom group through a favorite recipe. Who knows, maybe “Uncle Barry’s Pumpkin Soufflé” or “Cousin Carol’s Cookies” will end up being an official Thanksgiving tradition for years to come!

Give thanks

Gathering around the table and naming what you are thankful for is a longtime tradition in many families. Keep it going this year with a virtual gratitude toast. Schedule a time to gather around the table (er, iPad), grab a drink to toast with, and take turns stating what you are thankful for this year. Being 2020 and all, finding things to be grateful for may feel like a tall order, but taking the time to collectively share gratitude sure helps illuminate the silver linings. 

Give back

Volunteering and giving back are surefire ways to warm the heart and encourage the spirit. Make it a family affair; kiddos can help pick out canned goods and other non-perishables at the grocery store to drop off at a food bank. Surprise your neighborhood fire station with homemade cookies, or sign up to volunteer at the local animal shelter and make a date to walk Fido.

Be neighborly

Keep your neighbors in mind this season, and surprise them with a porch drop-off. Crafty kiddos can make festive table centerpieces or handmade cards. Fresh flowers always bring a smile, or double up on baking day and share the pumpkin and pecan pie love. Your neighbors will appreciate it, and you never know who might really need it this year. 

Mark the occasion

This year has been unlike any other in recent history, and it’s important to record our feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Because, believe it or not, there will be a day down the road where the world feels closer to normal, and the year that COVID came might feel more like a fading dream than a living nightmare. Bring some creativity to the table and make a Thanksgiving 2020 scrapbook of sorts. Have family and friends jot down a little snapshot of what it was like: The hard things, the good things, the silver linings, the new things learned. Then tuck it away for another year. One where family members are once again gathered around the table, where laughter is free-flowing, and where hopes are high.

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