Looking to make Thanksgiving 2020 with the family safe, socially distant, and enjoyable during COVID-19? We got you.

By Melissa Mills
November 16, 2020
Family having a video call during dinner
Credit: Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic may have thrown a wrench into just about all of your plans this year, but that doesn't mean you can't still celebrate the holidays with family and friends—it might just not be in person.

By now you've likely seen the COVID-19 Thanksgiving guidance out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which include limiting your dinner to only the people you live with for the safest possible celebration. Some cities and states have even placed limits on the number of people who can attend indoor gatherings, and it's recommended that guests still wear masks, open windows for increased airflow if you can't take the festivities outdoors, and socially distance as much as possible. This all comes as no surprise as cases of COVID-19 surge across the country, causing parents to reel in their family's activities even more and rethink their Thanksgiving plans.

Though it might not be what you're used to, shifting your Thanksgiving to be more intimate is the best thing you can do in 2020. This has not been a "normal" year and, unfortunately, this will not be a normal holiday season. But with a few tweaks—and some good WiFi—your crew can still have a Thanksgiving to remember with some virtual, family-approved activities.

Virtual Thanksgiving Ideas for 2020

1. Thanksgiving Recipe Swap

It may not be the best idea to visit Grandma this year, but that doesn't mean you can't still get a taste of her mouth-watering sweet potato pie. Get the whole family on board, swap your best recipes, test them out at home, then set up a Zoom—which, by the way, will have no time limit on Thanksgiving—for the big taste test.

2. Turkey Day Craft-a-Thon

From free, printable coloring pages to easy crafts for toddlers to edible crafts for kids, we've got your little ones covered. Pick one or a few ideas and plan a time to get the kiddos together via video to have a little fun side by side.

3. Macy's Parade Watch-Along

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is already virtual for 2020, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a staple for kicking off Turkey Day for most families. Why not enjoy your kids' favorite character balloons, Broadway performances, and, of course, a special appearance by Santa Claus by watching along with loved ones on Zoom or FaceTime? Bonus points if everyone rocks some festive pajamas for it.

4. Virtual Thanksgiving Games

Who doesn't love a good game night? Make yours Turkey Day-friendly with these 10 Thanksgiving games for kids that include everything from Mad Libs to I Spy and can easily be played from behind a screen.

You can even make a game out of these Thanksgiving trivia questions. Winner gets an e-gift card—or dibs on a sweet treat sent directly to their doorstep!

5. Scholastic's First Thanksgiving Virtual Field Trip

Sprinkle a bit of history into your holiday with Scholastic's virtual Thanksgiving field trips that include a tour of the Mayflower and Plimoth Plantation that school-age kids will enjoy. There's also an immersive tour of a Wampanoag village, the Indigenous people who were living in the area before the pilgrims arrived. The best part? It's all free!

6. Zoom Dinner With Extended Family and Friends

Last, but certainly not least, host a classic Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving dinner with everyone you love—all on Zoom, FaceTime, or your favorite video platform. Set up a phone or laptop near your dining table and enjoy turkey dinner how you normally would, just with fewer people physically in the room. Pump up the music, say what you're thankful for, and catch up on what's new while enjoying some delicious food. Heck, you can even throw in a few awkward family conversations to make it even more legit.

Remember, celebrating safely is a sacrifice—there's no question about it—but it's one many Americans will be making this year to ensure we can all enjoy the holidays for many years to come.