How to celebrate what might be a strange Thanksgiving 2020

If you’re doing something smaller this year, you’re not alone

Will your Thanksgiving look different this year? (cottonbro/Pexels stock image)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but with COVID-19 still ravaging the country, many people are opting out of the bigger, traditional family celebrations that often go hand in hand with the holiday.

It makes sense. Doing a Thanksgiving dinner with only the people in your immediate household is simply the safest route for everyone. But if you’re bummed about the notion of a smaller, less festive Thanksgiving, we have some ideas for you.

Think outside the box! Just because the holiday will be smaller doesn’t mean it has to sit in a cloud of sadness.

Plus, there’s always next year, right?

So, if you actually want to celebrate ...

  • Start a tradition with your immediate family. Maybe you could all decorate together the night before the holiday, or the days leading up to it -- or you could set the dinner table in a specific way or bake the pie. If you’re usually traveling or an aunt usually handle the side dishes, perhaps this is a chance for you to do things your way.
  • Make the day festive. Set up some good snacks for the Lions game, put out a nice tablecloth in the dining room and use this opportunity to order that extra place setting (ahead of time, of course). With all this increased time at home (well, for most of 2020, really!), you might as well make your surroundings look nice. Invest in your home.
  • Serve something other than turkey, if the thought of making the whole bird seems overwhelming or daunting. (You could always opt for a smaller turkey breast, too, if you only have a few mouths to feed). Ask your family members: How much do you guys even enjoy turkey? If there were ever a year to go lasagna and garlic bread or beef Wellington -- this just might be it.
  • On the flip side, if you’re NOT loving the idea of breaking from tradition, ask your mom or sister for that old stuffing recipe that grandma used to make. Doing something nostalgic and classic might feel better, and of course, this day is all up to YOU and your close family.
  • Support local. If you read those previous suggestions and thought they all sounded like too much work (lasagna, grandma’s stuffing, cooking anything at all), then you should Google what kinds of offerings your local restaurants are touting. Look at it this way: You’ll likely be saving money if you’re staying at home. Why not pay it forward -- you’ll be helping a business that might be struggling, and then you’re leaving the cooking to someone else. It’s a definite win-win. (Oh, and one final thought: A lot of restaurants are doing full meals, others are doing sides-only, others have carry-out cocktail kits and desserts). Do whatever feels right!
  • Most importantly, don’t be down about it. Make the day fun! If you’re sad about the lack of traditional Thanksgiving, that’s going to rub off onto your spouse, kids and those around you. Don’t be that person. Chin up, because attitudes are contagious, and at the very least, you’ll still be surrounded by a few loved ones, with a Thursday off work and a holiday meant for gratitude (and eating delicious food).
  • Host a little Zoom party. You can still visit with your out-of-state relatives and invite each other to the respective dinner tables. It’ll just be virtual. But it’s November, so we’re good at this by now.

If you’re not that into it ...

Don’t read anything we wrote above. It’s just another Thursday. 😉

That said:

  • Use your time wisely. If it’s just you for the day, maybe volunteer to work, if you have the kind of job that needs people on the clock. It’s a nice thing to do, your coworkers will likely repay the favor someday, and maybe you’ll get an extra day off to use at a later date, when you DO have something going on.
  • Volunteer. That’s an easy way not to have a pity party for your lack of plans: Pass out meals at a soup kitchen, or check out what kind of local opportunities might be available in your hometown.
  • Distract yourself. Do a home project. Read a book. Take an epic nap. Get outside. Walk your dog. He doesn’t know it’s Thanksgiving.
  • Zoom with some friends after dinner. Most people’s celebrations will have wrapped up by mid-evening, wouldn’t you assume? Afterward, have a ginger ale or a beer, watch a guilty-pleasure type of show and enjoy some dessert. You deserve it.

OK, are we feeling a little bit better about Thanksgiving? Please say yes. And tell us in the comments what you’re planning on!