These pandemic Thanksgiving ideas will help you make the most of your Thanksgiving celebration this year.
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Some states have stricter social distancing requirements than others, and you might be in one of them that strongly discourage large groups right now. You might also have family or friends that you would love to celebrate with, but have to keep themselves quarantined because of being in a high-risk group.
You might consider including the following regardless of how you decide to celebrate:
- COVID-19 tests 2 days before the celebration
- Thanksgiving Themed Masks (I love these designs!)
- Hand sanitizer
- Social distancing
- A simple menu
These are the best pandemic Thanksgiving ideas that I could think of, and hopefully they will help you to have a safe, fun-filled Thanksgiving celebration even if you are immunocompromised or separated from your loved ones!
1. Celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner Virtually
Host your Thanksgiving dinner on Zoom, Facebook Rooms, Messenger, Video Call, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. All of these platforms have varying requirements, including limited number of participants. But they are all great ways to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with your family while keeping your distance.
One Person Cooks All
If your family is in the same general locale, one person can cook and deliver (or have people pick up) boxed meals so everyone can enjoy the same meal.
Turkey Dinner Scavenger Hunt + Show & Tell
Alternatively, each participant can help come up with a menu that everyone agrees on. Each person can shop and cook each item on the menu, and have fun sharing what they are having.
2. Celebrate Thanksgiving Outside
Studies are showing more and more that COVID-19 mostly spreads while inside. It spreads through air and generally when you are in an atmosphere with COVID-19 droplets for 15 minutes or more.
Additionally, observing social distancing and wearing masks when you must be closer than 6-ft greatly helps reduce the potential viral load you take in. Frequent hand-washing and observing other practical measures to reduce the spread of disease also helps greatly.
For this reason, opting to celebrate Thanksgiving outside can be a great way to get together with family and reduce the potential of getting sick.
Decorate your backyard and make it possible for each person to observe social distancing measures. Brief each person that social distancing guidelines will be observed and have a plan for serving food. You might consider having one person designated to serving food, and using disposable dishes and cups and individually wrapped utensils.
You might consider having designated seating for each person/family unit stopping by.
Keep the celebration short and opt to share your Thanksgiving meal with each other, play games that work while social distancing, share a dessert then go your separate ways.
Thanksgiving Picnic At The Park
Your family might consider celebrating with a Thanksgiving picnic at a local park. Parks offer plenty of space for social distancing.
While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 due to fecal-oral spread, the virus has been found in feces. This makes it important to do your due diligence and follow the best protocols for food safety. Consider avoiding potlucks or stressing the importance of frequent hand-washing and careful food handling to each person.
Alternatively, the “safe person” (or people) in the family can make the main dishes like Turkey and sides. Every family has these neat freaks who observe every little food safety guideline, right?
Others can bring desserts and beverages.
Have each person bring their separate picnic blanket to share with their immediate family.
3. Start New Thanksgiving Traditions
Your family likely already has Thanksgiving traditions that have been well-loved for generations. While this year might throw a damper in some of them, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it and have a great holiday!
You might consider beginning a new family tradition.
Here’s a list of Thanksgiving gratitude ideas for kids. Some of these would work well for the entire family! I especially love the rock painting activity and think every family should make it a tradition!
Additionally, consider beginning one of the following traditions:
Pumpkin carving contest
Each person can have their own pumpkin to carve and have fun actually carving it or decorating it with a mix of permanent markers, glue, and odds and ends.
Scarecrow drawing contest
Each person can take their time drawing a scarecrow, and once everyone is done everyone can choose their favorite. The person with the most votes wins!
Everyone can write on a small piece of paper a list of 5 things that they are grateful for, along with their name. Roll it up or fold it neatly and drop it in the Thanksgiving jar. Help children who cannot write but can verbalize what they are thankful for.
One designated person should keep the jar for review the following year!
I love these little origami sheets for this activity, but you can also cut printer paper in 4 equal pieces!
This jar is perfect, and you can make a decorative label for the top so you know it’s from Thanksgiving 2020.
The Thanksgiving jar is probably one of my favorite pandemic Thanksgiving ideas. It, as well as all the other activities in this section, can be done virtually. Each person can submit their list virtually (orally or via chat/text/e-mail) or mail it to the designated person. It will be so much fun to look at these the following year!
4. Play Socially Distant Games
There are many games your family can enjoy while observing social distancing recommendations! Think baby shower-esque games, except with a fall theme.
Some games you might consider include:
- Pictionary (check out this free printable of ideas)
- Bingo (Try this one or this one)
- Turkey Scratch Off (be sure to have prizes for the winners, such as these adorable Turkey Christmas ornaments they can use and adore for years to come!)
- Make A Turkey Sticker (for the kids)
- Bean Bag Toss (super fun for kids AND adults, have adults stand further back than the children)
- Potato Sack Race + other games
For activities that require guests to share materials, such as charades or the bean bag toss, keep them at a designated station with hand sanitizer available. This way each person can sanitize their hands before taking their turn to help reduce the chances of spreading disease.
There are many things you can do to ensure you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I hope these pandemic Thanksgiving ideas have helped you to see that!
If you do choose to celebrate in person, be sure to have a virtual option for family members/friends who would like to attend but have to keep their distance because of health concerns.
Try not to look at social distancing requirements as a hindrance to loving and appreciating your family this holiday season. Instead, think outside the box and be creative to come up with safe ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that will work for everyone.
If you think of ideas that I haven’t thought of, I’d love to hear them! Just leave a comment below.