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This time last year, my family and I were still living in Miami, and as the editor and publisher of a local publication for families, I had already published my Thanksgiving family fun and events guide packed with tons of ideas to celebrate the holiday. If you had told me that fast forward 12 months I would have been at our new home in Texas, writing an article about how to celebrate a Thanksgiving, or any other Holiday, during a global pandemic…my immediate response would have been “Stop watching too many sci-fi movies!”
Covid-19 has changed the way in which we do many things – work, learn, and play. Large-scale, traditional celebrations are on hold in the current climate. The good news? Just because we’re practicing social distancing or quarantining ourselves, we don’t have to skip the turkey or tofurkey, right? Between birthday zoom parties and virtual weddings, we’re getting used to celebrating special events online. We can still host a safe Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving celebration.
If you are still figuring out how to safely spend the holidays together amid the pandemic, keep reading to create a meaningful Thanksgiving experience even if you’re not physically together. Here’s all you need to make it easy as (pumpkin) pie to throw a pand-epic Thanksgiving party. One thing’s for certain, this will be a Turkey Day none of us will soon forget.
CHOOSE YOUR HOST
If you don’t plan on being the host yourself, designate a host that can virtually wrangle the family together, gather everyone’s email addresses and help the less tech-savvy relatives set up and test their video call connection.
PREPARE THE GUESTS LIST
Prepare a list of your closest circle, including only people you truly want to celebrate Thanksgiving with. Keep your guest list as short as possible, to avoid people talking over one another and paving the way for chaos, during the video call.
PICK A PLATFORM
This is the pandemic equivalent of finding a venue. Since we’re keeping things small, in most cases the free tier of most platforms is more than enough. Pick one – Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messanger, FaceTime, HouseParty are the most popular – and ask your guests to test it beforehand.
Create an e-vite with the start time and end time (typically an hour), the details of the call (ID and password, if needed), agenda for the day, and any other relevant information. For sending out your online invitations, you can use one of these free options:
SET A DRESS CODE
Part of the fun of going to a party can be dressing up. While this party will be from the comfort of our home, it is still a party! Consider asking your guests to ditch the sweatpants, and join in dressy casual, or maybe even cocktail attire. Ladies, do the hair and put a little makeup on.
PLAN THE MENU
Thanksgiving meal may be the hardest time for us to be apart from family members since we will all be making dishes on our own for this virtual Thanksgiving party. You can pice things up by asking your guests to swap recipes for their favorite side dishes a few days prior. If you live close by, distribute prepackaged meals in advance. Otherwise, share the menu with your guests, asking them to buy the dishes on the menu, or similar ones.
SHIP GUESTS A CARE PACKAGE
This step is totally optional, depending on how much preparation you want to do before the party. You can’t send a roast turkey dinner to distant family and friends, but you can send the elements of the holiday to share during the virtual party: candles, festive napkins, pumpkin spice anything, sweet treats, football gameday snacks, a drawing from a little one — there are endless ways to show your love in a fun, festive way. Remember to label them ‘don’t open until Thanksgiving! Do you need any help with creating and shipping your care package for Thanksgiving and the Holidays in December? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
SHARE A TOAST OF GRATITUDE
Make some fun cocktails or mocktails, kick off your Thanksgiving dinner with a toast of gratitude.
If you like bubbles, you may want to try this Apple Cider Aperol Spritz, the Fall twist of the classic Italian Summer cocktail is fairly easy to make, delicious, inviting, and highly instagrammable.
Ingredients for one:
2 to 3 ounces apple cider
1 ounce Aperol
2 to 3 ounces Prosecco
A splash of club soda or sparkling water
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Apple wedges for garnish
Fill a glass with ice, and pour in the apple cider and Aperol. Stir together, and then, pour in the Prosecco. Top with sparkling water, along with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Garnish with fresh apple wedges.
COORDINATE THE DECOR
To create a sense of togetherness, choose the virtual party decor, or at least the color palette, and share it with your guests. Decide where your table will be and set-up your webcam so you can see what you will be sharing with your guests, decorate the area, and take pictures. Send these pictures to your guests, asking them to set the same, or at least a similar, tone and theme for their own areas the day of the virtual holiday get-together. If you can, send them the links to where you bought your decor, giving them the option to have the same exact decor, if they want to.
There are plenty of fun options the whole family can enjoy over a video call. Here are few easy ideas:
- Gratitude Jar
Ask your guests to write down what they’re most thankful for prior to the party, and let everyone get a chance to read their list during the video call.
- Virtual Bingo – Play a round of bingo. This is an easy fun game anyone knows how to play, and it’s ideal if you have young kids in the family.
- Scavenger Hunt – Compile a list of items and challenges, share it with your guests prior to the part, and ask them to print it Set the time to start the scavenger hunt. Once the time begins, every guest will try and find all the items as quickly as they can. When they finish, they have to show or send a picture of their completed scavenger hunt list to the group chat.
- Surprise dish – Days before Thanksgiving pick an ingredient like pomegranate or apple and have guests surprise each other on screen with what they made.
Before everyone leaves the party, don’t forget to take group pictures to make the memory last.