Skip to main content
Family Files

Celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020

Man, woman and child playing on phone

The holidays are fast approaching, and what is usually a fun time of preparation and anticipation for many is now clouded by uncertainty with COVID-19. With the surge in cases and the severity of the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, suggests celebrating Thanksgiving with members of your own household who consistently take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or with others virtually to lower the risk of spread.

The CDC cautions against hosting or participating in any in-person gathering if you or anyone in your household has been diagnosed, has symptoms, has been exposed to someone with the illness or is waiting on test results. They also include those who are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus – which is an older adult or person with certain medical conditions that put them at risk, or live or work with someone who is at an increased risk of severe illness. With that being said, the CDC also has a list of safety guidelines for those that may still plan to gather.

There are many ways to enjoy the upcoming holiday – we just have to be a little more creative and flexible in our thinking.

What is really important is to have open and honest conversations with family members about each person’s comfort level about getting together and whether they have been and/or will practice safety precautions prior to gathering and during. The main goal during this time is to connect with others but in a safe way that will preserve everyone’s health so we can continue to celebrate in the future.

So, how can we make the most of Thanksgiving in 2020?


There are many things you could do virtually with family and friends through platforms like Zoom or Facetime including:

  • Having your Thanksgiving meal or actually cooking some of the items together. Like an interactive cooking show, maybe Mom can walk you through the steps to making her famous turkey dressing.
  • Playing games like Would You Rather, Things They Don’t Teach You in School, or just challenging each other with riddles and trivia. Maybe engage in a virtual scavenger hunt and see how creative you can be. 
  • Reading books or telling stories to children about Thanksgiving or sharing with each other what we are grateful for.
  • Tune in and watch parades, sporting events and holiday movies together from the comfort of your home. You could easily have others join virtually so you can watch together if that is your tradition.

Reaching Out

There are other ways to connect with each other over the holiday.

  • Send a letter: In addition to picking up the phone and calling or texting loved ones, also consider sending a card or letter – people still love to receive notes in the mail. You may even consider sharing recipes ahead of the meal or after seeing some really great dishes.
  • Meal deliveries: Safely cooking, packaging and then delivering food to others (especially to those who have been more isolated) can be a good alternative to eating at the same table – and will benefit all involved.
  • Fall decoration drive-by: Activities for the family could also include driving around and looking at any fall decorations that might be on display. Pumpkins, gourds - and I know I have seen those blow-up turkeys in a yard or two! Have the kids make simple decorations like hand turkeys and put them in the windows for everyone to enjoy.

What about Black Friday shopping?

And speaking of tradition, maybe you have always participated in shopping on the eve of Thanksgiving or the day after. Skip the crowds and shop online this year. Anymore, the deals seem to happen for a much longer period than just one day. For local businesses, call and see about getting curbside pickup service or delivery.