How to Plan a Virtual Thanksgiving

As much as we want to go out and celebrate the beginning of the holiday season surrounded by friends and family, it's our responsibility to be safe and smart during the current pandemic. However, this voluntary lockdown doesn’t have to stop us from having a good time this holiday season! Our technology and its innovations have proven to be not only a necessity, but also a great way to be creative and have fun with the people we love most. Here are some tips on how to take advantage of these and have a great turkey day!

  1. 1. Set up the event!

    person typing on a laptop

    Just like an in person event, you'll need a venue big enough to fit all your guests comfortably. Thankfully, there are a lot of options for deciding which online video chatting app will work best for everyone. Skype, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Houseparty, Google Meet Microsoft Teams, and so many more. Contact your guests to find out which is the most accessible and  preferred video chat app. Then make sure to pick a day and time when everyone is available. Make sure to take into account the time limit for some of the video chatting apps when scheduling the time for the event.

  2. 2. Create an invitation!

    Letter and envelope

    Once all the details are laid out and all your guests are comfortable, you can now create a formal invitation! Yes, everyone will already know the time and place (in this case app) but this will help give a sense of normality and invite some holiday spirit! Although this Thanksgiving is a bit different than previous ones, it'll still be a fun celebration filled with the indispensable family traditions and embarrassing family pictures. 

  3. 3. Decorate!

    Giving thanks table set up

    Now it's time to get creative. Strategize how you'll create a comfortable camera setup that will capture everyone in the room. Make sure to place your setup in a place with a strong Internet connection. You should have enough space to move around and have a table for the food and games. If you have some speakers, a mic or an external camera, now would be the perfect time to include them in your setup. Some video chatting services allow you to change the video background, so you could be on a beach, in a scene from your favorite show, or at grandma's traditional Thanksgiving table. You can also decorate externally with balloons, paper turkeys, garlands, festive colors, a piñata, anything to help create that festive Thanksgiving spirit! 

  4. 4. Dress up!

    Close up image of sweaters and their knit material texture

    Just because we are stuck at home doesn't mean we can't look good! You can  establish a dress code for your event, be it super elegant and sophisticated or a casual pajama party. You can also create a theme dress code like superheroes, Thanksgiving pilgrims or outfits you don't know where to wear them to (like that prom outfit that cost a fortune or that bridesmaid dress that you only wore once). You can get as crazy and odd as you want! Anything to help get you out of that everyday slump of being stuck inside. 

  5. 5. Food!

    Roasted turkey on white ceramic plate

    No Thanksgiving is complete without a great meal. For this, you could chat with your guests to create a menu that's doable for everyone. That way you'll all be able to cook and have the same meal (even though you'll miss grandma's delicious arroz con gandules). Another option is having a free-for-all menu. Everyone can have whatever they wish, be that pizza, turkey, or pasta. This option is very valuable for the picky eaters. As long as you're all spending time with your loved ones while sharing and enjoying a meal together, the Thanksgiving essence will not be lost. 

  6. 6. Play some games!

    smartphone

    Now here's where things get fun. There are still plenty of games to play with and without the variety the internet provides. You can't go wrong with the classics like charades, Pictionary and trivia. You could even send a PDF with a pamphlet that everyone can print out with games like bingo, go fish, poker, and briscas. There's also websites and apps to play typical card or board games like Cards Against Humanity, Uno and Monopoly. Some odd but interesting games are:“Six Degrees of Wikipedia,” where you start in one Wikipedia page and must end up in another completely unrelated one with only 6 clicks;  Google’s “Higher or Lower”, where you guess which Google search has more searches; or Google’s “Text Adventure”a text based adventure game where you move forward by using your consoles commands (and in the case of no Internet, the classic dinosaur game). There’s also mobile games that have an online playing option where you can join with friends like Among Us, Fortnite, Overwatch, and so many more. You'll never run out of game options!

  7. 7. Have activities!

    Netflix on TV

    For my family, it is indisputable to watch the Macy's Annual Thanksgiving Parade while we cook our traditional meal. Both before and after the main celebrations, you could enjoy a fun holiday movie through Netflix Party or a friendly competition of best paper turkeys. Grab that old photo album and reminisce on fun family memories. Have a guest lead a baking class or teach everyone how to make some coquito (a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas drink). Check out some holiday playlists and have an off-key karaoke sing off! Create some new memories for the years to come.

  8. 8. Give thanks!

    family on beach at sunset

    We can never forget to give thanks. The whole purpose of this wonderful holiday is to remember the important people in our lives, the blessings that have helped us through these tough times, and the things we often might take for granted. There are various ways you can give thanks. You could go across the virtual table and each person can say all the things they are grateful for. You can also create a game out of it! There's the A to Z Thanks, where each person has to name something they are grateful for that starts with a certain letter. There's also the Chain Thanks, where someone chooses another person at the table and says something they're thankful for about them and then that person chooses someone else and does the same consecutively until everyone has spoken. However you go about it, it's important to be grateful and share the love.

Remember the most important thing about the holidays is sharing light and love with everyone we hold dear to our hearts. For everyone’s safety, let's stay inside this year and be thankful for all the blessings we still have. During these hard times, our creativity and perseverance can help us through. Hope you all have a beautifully safe and virtual turkey day!