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Tips to Host a Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner with family. The coronavirus pandemic brings up a lot of questions, so we’ve compiled some tips on how to have a festive feast at home! There are many unknowns around the holiday season, especially these questions: What if my out-of-state relatives don’t want to travel or are unable to due to a compromised immune system or state restrictions? How do I invite guests safely and establish a healthy environment? Many are wondering what Thanksgiving will look like this year and how family traditions might change. If you are wondering the same, try some of these suggestions below. Thanksgiving is a beautiful time to reflect, express gratitude, and gather with loved ones. You can still have a holiday celebration…just add a dash of creativity and some extra planning!

Send Invitations in Advance with Social Distancing Guidelines

This first suggestion doesn’t sound the most fun or inviting, but it will ensure your Thanksgiving dinner guests are safe. Send your invitations far in advance. Digital invitations are contactless and instant, so guests can make their decision quickly and safely. Try asking guests to self-isolate and distance from others as much as possible about 2 weeks before the event. This way, if you are having family friends or relatives over, you will feel comfortable having a small group at the house.

Have a Zoom Thanksgiving

Make some or all of your Thanksgiving event virtual! A zoom Thanksgiving can be fun and different—a great way to change things up. If the grandparents are out-of-state or opting out of the in-person Thanksgiving, try video calling them before, during, or after dinner. They can still see their grandchildren, talk to loved ones, and feel included. You can also host some virtual Thanksgiving games! Try a Price is Right Thanksgiving game where you ask family to guess the price of dinner items. Family members can type in their guess via chat or announce their answer one by one on video. You can also hold a Thanksgiving video Bingo. Mail prizes to the winners after the Thanksgiving event—something family members will look forward to! Video calling allows you to connect with family, no matter the distance.

Host a drive-by Thanksgiving celebration and car parade.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones from a safe distance! First, you’ll want to designate the “hosting” house. Maybe you select a grandparent’s house, if they are staying home this year, or a loved one who is immune compromised. People can drive by the house in their cars, honk their horns, and hold out signs to wish them a happy holiday! Hold out large signs that say what you are thankful for such as: I’m thankful for you; Thankful we are healthy; I’m grateful for your support. As cars gather in front of the house, you can hold a short car parade! Kids can hold streamers out the windows and blow party horns. A drive-by celebration is one way to make the holiday special and still visit with family members, grandparents, and friends.

Create Thanksgiving Party Bags and Table Settings to Encourage Healthy Habits

Your typical Thanksgiving traditions may need some creative adjustments this year! Thanksgiving usually involves all kinds of sharing…touching the same foods and utensils, playing board games in a small room, sharing intimate conversations at the dinner table. To create a safe and fun environment, you’ll want to encourage all guests to stay clean and healthy. To do this, make up Thanksgiving party bags for each guest. These party bags can contain practical items like mini hand sanitizer, tissues, wrapped plastic utensils, and colorful cloth masks. Try adding some other party items like confetti poppers, candy corn, and thankfulness cards so guests can write what they are thankful for and read the cards aloud during dinner.

Along with these party favors, you can make up a covid-friendly place setting for each person at the Thanksgiving meal. Put out a mini hand sanitizer, mini bar of soap, and hand cloth at the table. You can decorate the sanitizer with a cute Thanksgiving message and wrap the soap in ribbon to make it festive. This is a cute and fun way to encourage all guests to wash and sanitize frequently during the meal and afterward. Plus, guests can take these items home for future use.

Keep Kids Busy with Socially Distant Activities

Keep kids entertained with these Thanksgiving games and activities! You can still do many of the same activities as before, but with a little creative spin.

Hold a Thanksgiving storytime during dinner prep. Space out cushions so kids know where to sit and read some fun children’s books. Pick a book or two that fits with the holiday theme of gratitude and thankfulness. You might also surprise the kids with a special children’s book gift. A personalized Thanksgiving book like Thank You, Lord, For Everything is a unique present for kids that teaches them to express gratitude and give thanks for the beauty all around them! To make a child feel comfortable and calm, try a whimsical book like My Little Book of Blessings. This sweet book has blessings about friendship, sharing, and loving one another.

Another fun activity for kids is coloring! Give children coloring books and coloring pages to enjoy during free time or cooking time. Personalized coloring books are especially engaging, as they feature the child’s name on the cover! These make great gifts for all your little Thanksgiving guests. Kids can enjoy their custom gift on the holiday and long after.

Avoid Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

No one likes too many people hanging around the kitchen at the best of times…but especially at Thanksgiving and even more so during a pandemic! This cooking tip frees up space—perfect to maintain a social distance and for those with tiny kitchens or little oven space. Make individual servings of food for guests. For example, cook the stuffing in muffin tins. These stuffing muffins avoid the need for shared utensils. No more gathering around the food to serve means no crowds. Instead of a turkey, try making individual turkey pot pies. For dessert, whip up mini pies. Miniature pies are easy and accommodate guests’ preferences—Uncle Al doesn’t like cherry and Aunt Marge is allergic to nuts. Everyone gets their own individual plate, so there’s no need to gather in the kitchen or sit close to each other to pass food around.

Thanksgiving can still be a joyful celebration with loved ones. Best of all, maybe you’ll make some new family traditions! No matter how you celebrate, your gathering will be filled with love, laughter, and gratitude.