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How to Celebrate Thanksgiving during a Pandemic

The Thanksgiving holiday will be here soon, and if you’re like us, you may be wondering how you should celebrate this year. Frankly, in order to keep the cheer and stay true to (most) traditions, you’re going to have to think outside the box. Here are some ways we came up with to help you celebrate normal-ishly this year:

Have your Thanksgiving meal virtually

We know, we know, EVERYTHING is happening virtually now, and it’s not the same as meeting in person. But trust us when we say organizing a Zoom dinner is way less stressful than organizing the usual Thanksgiving meal! To make this virtual celebration more fun, you can do a meal exchange with your friends and family. This is where you all decide on the menu together and you can add your own recipe on a shared document or in a group text! Everyone makes a dish, then drops it off at the other people’s homes (food delivery services can also help if you’d like to do Thanksgiving take-out style). Once the drop off is complete, everyone can enjoy their meals together on a video call!

Alternatively, for some people, the best part of Thanksgiving is the joy and frenzy of cooking together with family and friends. If you can’t all be in the same kitchen this year, one way to re-create that feeling is for each household to prepare the same batch of recipes independently. That way you can experience the same meal over a long-distance video chat. Again, once you agree on a menu, you can add all of your recipe links to a shared spreadsheet. You can also create columns in the spreadsheet for each household to write comments—whether they’re helpful tips, suggested ingredient variations, or cooking woes.

Of course, dining virtually can be a challenge when you’re limited to the small screen on your smartphone or laptop. One way to enhance your viewing experience is by taking advantage of other electronics you may already have. Broadcasting your computer display on your TV can make your far-away family feel a little more life-size. Smart display devices, such as the Amazon Echo Show or the Google Nest Hub Max (two of our top-pick smart displays), offer another great way to stay connected. Their voice-activated commands are especially helpful if your hands are messy in the kitchen, for example, or if you want your kids to be able to initiate calls with loved ones easily. You may also consider giving a matching smart display to family members or friends who are looking for an easier way to stay in touch. Senior staff writer Jackie Reeve set up Echo Show devices for both her mom and in-laws, and she loves how it has helped her 8-year-old daughter keep in contact with grandparents during the pandemic.

Scale it back

Your guest list is probably much smaller this year, or maybe you’re just tired. Either way, scaling back your menu can free up your time and will likely alleviate some of your stress! Instead of having a huge, whole turkey, it might make more sense to cook a few drumsticks or a breast! You can also mix things up and cook a Cornish game hen or a duck instead of turkey! Halving recipes and making fewer sides will also cut back on the amount of food waste and free up more of your time.

Start your own traditions

Have you considered cooking something nontraditional this year? Since you don’t have the pressure of familial traditions, maybe it’s time to open that new cookbook you’ve been flipping through and try a new recipe! Choose a dish that inspires and excites you, and don’t worry about how it’s going to turn out. It’s easier to try new things when you have fewer people to please and less pressure.

Another great idea is highlighting seasoning food from your area! For us in Georgia, that means cooking with ingredients like squash and parsnips which are in season in the fall and winter times. If you’d like to try a delicious new recipe, we recommend this silky-smooth parsnip puree from Bon Appetite! The texture is like whipped, fluffy potatoes!

This pandemic has caused us all to rethink our concept of normal, and during the holiday seasons, that becomes much harder for some. We believe that the most important thing we can do right now is continue the holiday spirit of celebration, and we are so thankful to have the support of our customers! Have a happy Thanksgiving, and remember to prioritize your mental and physical health this holiday season.


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