Thanksgiving is the time when family and friends gather together for a festive meal and to catch up on the happenings in each person’s life. Celebrating Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for most families to rethink how they can keep their family tradition if they are not able to be with each other. This can be an especially lonely time for seniors and those who are at high risk for infection due to underlying health conditions.

Social distancing from loved ones for safety and health concerns may present a great opportunity to be creative by adding fun things that families can do together while being in separate locations. Look over the following suggested fun activities to find one or more ideas to keep everyone involved and connected for the holiday.

Five Fun Things for a Thanksgiving Celebration
Today’s electronic age lets family and friends visit with each other whether they are living locally or across the country.

1.  Menu Planning:
There is usually a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu that involves a lot of side dishes set on the table around the main dish whether that is a turkey or other featured dish. When we were young, our mothers made everything for the meal. As we got older, the family grew to include in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and other extended members. This means that several family members are making traditional dishes and desserts that they bring to the home where everyone gathers to celebrate.

When families are not able to be in one place for the holiday, the meal can still be enjoyed by everyone at the same time. Each member can still make their side dishes and desserts a day ahead of time and then wrap the food and deliver it to family members who live in the local area. Rather than one person baking one large turkey or another main dish, each family can bake a smaller dish that will feed the number of people in their household. Loved ones who live out of the area can make their own main dish, with the traditional side dishes and desserts. When everyone can have the same menu, the Thanksgiving meal will continue to be a tradition.

2.  Baking Party:
Cookies, cakes, and pies are the final touches to any holiday gathering. Baking these sweets is a labor of love. Those who will be making the treats can schedule a Zoom baking party where everyone is making their special desserts for the traditional meal. Everyone gets to visit and chat with family while baking, and this is an excellent time to include the younger family members. When finished, everyone can divide up, wrap up the treats, and deliver them to each other’s homes to have for the holiday meal.

3.  Dining Together:
The best way to enjoy a traditional holiday meal is when everyone can come together in one location. However, during a pandemic, a family get-together may not be possible. But families can still have fun and celebrate together with a Zoom dinner party. Everyone can see and talk with each other as they enjoy the same food at the same time.

4.  Grateful Lists:
One favorite Thanksgiving tradition is for each person at the table to say one thing that they are thankful to have or feel. You and download a Thanksgiving notecard and email it to each family. Ask each person to write down their thankful thoughts to be read during the Zoom inner party. Then collect the written notes to make an album of the cards. This can become a new tradition if continued each year in the future. It would be fun to see how each person’s thoughts change over the years.

5.  Entertainment:
When families get together, they always find ways to entertain each other. When circumstances prevent loved ones from being physically connected, the entertainment can continue. Here are some ideas for fun activities to entertain people of all ages.

• Zoom Bingo – You can make bingo cards on a computer and email them to each family. Each person playing will need a crayon or felt pen to mark off the numbers called. One person will be the caller and there can be prizes for the winners. Prizes can be small items from a dollar gift shop or a small gift card for convenience shops like 7-11, coffee shops, or pizza parlors.

• Zoom Movie – Select a favorite holiday theme movie that everyone can watch at the same time. Ask everyone to make a bowl of popcorn to munch on while watching. After the movie, ask each person what their favorite part of the movie was.

• Favorite Memory – Ask each person to talk about their favorite holiday memory. It can be a funny story or just a happy memory. It can be about where and when the memory happened, who was there, and why it was a special moment in their lives.

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