Photo credit: Khadija Horton
Photo credit: Khadija Horton

From Cosmopolitan

Ah, Thanksgiving. A holiday for spending time with family, practicing gratitude, and eating your entire bodyweight in turkey.

While all of those things will still happen this year (nothing can come between me and my three servings of sweet potato casserole), the day is probably gonna look a ‘lil bit different, thanks to the whole global pandemic sitch. Or at least, it definitely should.

Per the CDC’s guidelines, it’s best to attend outdoor gatherings rather than indoor ones and to stay within your local area as much as possible (as in no out of state travel, por favor). Plus, most states currently have pretty strict limits on the number of people you’re allowed to have at indoor gatherings. In other words, you might want to skip the four-hour drive over to Aunt Pam’s house to see the entire extended family this year.

Sooo, how do you still have a semi-normal Thanksgiving in 2020? This is where we turn to Gen Z’s favorite tool: The internet. Between Zoom birthday parties, Zoom graduations, and even Zoom weddings, most of us have gotten pretty used to the whole virtual celebration thing. But hosting your Thanksgiving festivities online is going to take a whole new level of creativity. That’s where I come in: Below, find 15 actually-fun ways to celebrate Thanksgiving online. Good Turkey Day greetings to you and yours.

Send Some Cute Virtual Invites

It’s a little extra to send out actual Thanksgiving invites if you’re just going to be chowing down with the fam over Skype. But, hey, if you’re in the mood to go over-the-top, I say go for it (I’m all for supporting the USPS). Otherwise, some cute virtual invitations should do the trick. Fill them out with your dinner time and preferred video chat platform so everyone’s on the same page for the big day. Minted has some really cute (and free) Thanksgiving options, like this one.

Plan Your Own Turkey Trot

TBH, I’ve never understood why turkey trots are a thing, but if your family does one every year, it’s only right to keep the tradition alive. Set a time on Thanksgiving morning, and have your usual turkey trot crew race a 5K at home using a running app like Strava so you can compare times and see who won. Wanna up the stakes? Make a deal that everyone will Venmo the winner $5.

Have a Zoom Cooking Class

If it’s your first time doing Thanksgiving without your family’s best cook there to chef everything up, stay calm—you got this. Just ask them to teach you their ways via Zoom. Have them send around an ingredients list ahead of time, so that everyone can follow along in their own kitchen. It’ll kinda feel like you’re cooking together as you used to in the Before Times.

Mix Up Some Dranks

Planning to order in? Then just skip the cooking class and go straight to the booze. Video chat while you mix up a fall-themed cocktail, like these Apple Cider Ginger Bourbon Smashes. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider

  • 1/4 cup ginger beer or ginger ale

  • 2 ounces bourbon

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine apple juice, ginger beer, bourbon, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and ground cloves in a cocktail shaker. Shake until combined. Strain into a glass filled with ice and top with a cinnamon stick or sliced apple.

Recipe from Sage to Silver

Set Up an Early Secret Santa

After the year we’ve had, everyone deserves some presents RTFN, right? A few weeks before November 26th (that’s Thanksgiving this year, BTW) use an online name generator like Elfster to assign your family members a secret Santa. Set a price limit, and have everyone mail their gifts so they’ll arrive in time for Turkey Day. After dinner, do the big reveal over FaceTime.

Three Words: Pie Eating Contest

Totally ridiculous? Yes. Insanely fun? Also yes. Everyone bakes a pie, then goes head-to-head on Zoom to see who finishes theirs the fastest. With witnesses, of course. And yes, you do have to eat with your hands behind your back, thanks for asking.

Set a Funny Dress Code

If you’re celebrating with the people you’ve been quarantined with for the past seven months, chances are you’re b-o-r-e-d of eating together all the time. Spice things up by setting a dress code theme. This family went with random fancy attire they had lying around. Decide on a theme together, and have cousins, grandparents or family friends choose their own theme too. Rock your outfits to Zoom dinner and lol over what everyone else wears. Bonus points if you film a TikTok while you’re at it.

Tailgate in the Backyard

Watching the Cowboys just won’t be the same without 20 people in the living room screaming at the TV. But don’t worry, it can still be super fun. Prop up a TV on the patio or back porch, and pull the car around for a backyard tailgate. And, of course, FaceTime your uncles so you can get their commentary on each play.

Play ‘What Do You Meme,’ But With Family Photos

Start by rounding up some of your family members’ most embarrassing photos and save them to a folder on your computer. Have each group you’re going to Zoom with order a ‘What Do You Meme’ set before Thanksgiving. Once everyone’s logged on, have each player take seven caption cards and choose a judge from the group. But instead of picking a classic meme photo from the game, share your screen and display an embarrassing family pic. The players have to caption it, and the judge decides which caption is best. FYI: you might wanna opt for the Family Edition to avoid any awkward moments since the captions in the OG version can get a little risqué.

Get Creative with Photoshop

You probably can’t exactly pull off a huge family photo à la the Kardashian-Jenners this year. But you can definitely crop in your brother who lives out-of-state and pretend thanks to Photoshop. Whip up some doctored family photos from the day for some major laughs.

Challenge Everyone to a Virtual Board Game

I don’t know about you, but it’s not Thanksgiving at my house without at least one painfully long game of Monopoly. This year, take your fam’s board game of choice digital thanks to the App Store. Tons of games like Clue, Catan, and Risk have app versions where you can invite others to play.

Go Black Friday (Online) Shopping

Hot tip: the best Black Friday deals are usually online, and most of the time they go live on Thanksgiving Day. So once your food coma subsides a bit, start shopping your favorite sites. Text a few links to your frands so they can confirm that you *need* that new loungewear set and pair of boots (even though you were totally gonna get them either way). It would be wrong not to.

Host a Zoom Friendsgiving

The bad news? You probably can’t host a Friendsgiving with your high school friend group this year. The good news? You can totally still hang out, catch up, and get wine drunk with them this year. Just do it over Zoom! Wanna win friend of the year? Uber Eats everyone dinner so they don’t have to worry about cooking.

Stream the Parade

Unforch, it’s too soon to tell what the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be like this year—the department store will be releasing more deets later this fall. But it sounds like there will be at least some form of a parade to watch. Stream it live and have your grandma do the same so you can text about your favorite floats.

Have a Christmas Movie Night

As soon as I get up from the Thanksgiving dinner table, I’m ready for Christmas. And unless you’re one of those hardcore “Christmas season doesn’t start ’til December 1st” people, I highly recommend watching a Christmas movie post-dinner with some friends or family to get in the ~holiday spirit~. Thanks to Netflix Party, a totally genius Chrome extension, you invite up to 50 people to share your screen and watch it with you. There’s even a chat feature, so you can share your hot takes on Home Alone.

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