Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and unfortunately, it’s a terrible time for people to be traveling long distances to be in close contact with family and friends. As the COVID-19 infection numbers continue to climb, cities around the United States are once again entering the lockdown phases that beset the nation back in March. So far, the US has seen over 11 million cases, with over 250,000 deaths and counting. It makes for a grim outlook going into the holiday season, but you and your family can take precautions to keep from becoming a part of the statistics.
Public health experts around the world agree that staying home is the best bet for containing the virus and limiting its spread and effects. Staying indoors doesn’t have to mean you miss out on family time and Thanksgiving traditions, it just means you have to employ some creativity to keep everyone safe and healthy this year. We’ve put together a plan for your family to enjoy a socially distant holiday, and while it does mean you won’t get to pass the cranberry sauce across the table, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on seeing the people you love.
Stream the Thanksgiving Parade
Many families start their Thanksgiving traditions in the morning with a viewing of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. This year, the parade will be a virtual event with pre-taped performances from musicians, dancers, and marching bands. There will be balloons flown from vehicles and even Santa Claus will take time from his busy schedule to make an appearance.
You can watch the parade on NBC from 9 a.m. to noon EST, with an encore presentation from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Telemundo will provide a Spanish simulcast of the event. You can watch the stream on the NBC App for iOS and Android devices if you link to your TV provider, and you can also watch it live on NBC’s website. CBS also broadcasts the parade with its own troupe of hosts, and you can watch that via CBS All Access.
If you miss seeing the parade in person, you can check out a livestream from the streets of Manhattan presented by Verizon in conjunction with Macy’s and NBCUniversal. That event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. EST on Verizon’s Twitter feed and YouTube channel.
YouTube in the Kitchen
Once the parade is over, it’s time to head into the kitchen to get ready for the Thanksgiving meal. If you long to see your family, but don’t want to break quarantine, you can set up a laptop with a built-in camera and microphone in the kitchen and live stream your meal preparations over YouTube. One of the advantages of using YouTube is that you can create a private stream for just your family members and send the link to family and friends who are also stuck at their respective homes.
If you’ve never streamed with YouTube before, you’ll need to do a little bit of prep before you can go live. 24 hours before you want to start your stream, you will need to verify your YouTube account by connecting a phone number. Once you’ve done this, you can click on the camera icon in the top right corner of your YouTube account page to go live.
You will then need to create a title for your stream, and choose whether it is Public, Unlisted, or Private. For the purposes of Thanksgiving meal prep, you can choose to make the stream Unlisted, so that anyone with a link can view it. You then choose the age restrictions for the stream, the category for the event, and make sure your camera and microphone are working.
Once you’ve made sure everything is working, click the button that says “Share” in the Stream Preview window that popped up. You will be presented with a video link you can share via social networks or email so your family can tune in and watch you make the biggest meal of the year. By the way, if you’re looking to spice up your cooking tech, you might check out our guide to the best smart kitchen appliances!
The Dinner and a Zoom Call
On Twitter, New York House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez revealed her Thanksgiving plans; they involve a little coordination and a Zoom call. She told a reporter at Politico that she and her family will all cook from the same recipes and then eat their family dinner over Zoom. You may have trouble getting grandma to hand over her secret recipe for stuffing, but this is a method that will certainly keep you and your family healthy and safe this holiday season.
If you have family members who don’t use Zoom for work or socializing already, you can just invite them to join your Personal Meeting Room in Zoom by sending them the invite link located in the popup window when you activate your Zoom meeting room. You can use a free Zoom account for this method and the company is lifting the 40-minute limit for Thanksgiving. If Zoom reminds you of long work meetings and you’d like to avoid it, you should check out our list of free Zoom alternatives for video chatting during the pandemic.
The Family FaceTime
If you are an iOS user, one of the easiest ways to get in touch and stay connected is via FaceTime. Before, during, or after Thanksgiving dinner you can get in touch with your loved ones who live far away, or even just across town using Apple’s FaceTime feature.
If you want to truly make it an extended family affair, invite more than one household to the chat by using FaceTime’s group video chat features. Learn how to use the group FaceTime feature with our guide. You can chat with as many as 32 different people, which could make this Thanksgiving your biggest family event of the year.
Of course, if you’re an Android user, FaceTime isn’t an option. Not to worry: We have a whole list of Facetime alternatives for Android.
Football and Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition that you shouldn’t have to miss because of COVID-19. Your family can stream a football game on one device while continuing the Zoom call or FaceTime on another. That way you still get to hear your Uncle’s tales of high school football glory while enjoying the game from the safety of your own home. Our roundup of the best NFL streaming services has a schedule of games and tells where you can watch games during the week of the holiday.
If football isn’t part of your family’s tradition, Check out our round up of the best streaming services for sports—try watching another sport together! It’s time to make new traditions in this new world of lockdown, and we can help with a few tips for streaming sports during the holiday season.
Watch a Movie or Show Together, Remotely
Finally, the best way to wrap up your Thanksgiving Day celebrations is with a movie at night. Services like Disney+, Netflix and Hulu make it easy for you to share their library of movies and shows with your family using the co-watching features. Disney+’s GroupWatch allows you to watch your favorite Disney shows and movies with up to six people. Netflix has a browser extension that allows you to synch your movies and streaming TV shows called Teleparty. Check out our guide to using Teleparty with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. If you have Hulu and you don’t want to use the browser extension, you can try out Watch Party, Hulu’s co-watching service. It currently allows up to eight people to join a single session, and viewers who share the same account can join through individual profiles.
You could also use Discord to create a server for your family and play a movie that everyone can watch together in one virtual room. Discord was created for gamers, but it’s a great text and video-chatting service that is easy for anyone to use. Check out our guide to using Discord to learn more about the service and how you can co-watch movies and tv shows with a small group of people.