13 Ideas to Celebrate Thanksgiving 2020

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Or, How to Celebrate During A Time Of Social Distancing.

thanksgiving 2020

Due to 2020 being, well 2020, it looks like many families will be having a most unusual Thanksgiving this year. Typically a time for gathering, Thanksgiving 2020 will be a more subdued affair for people who can’t be with their families as usual. Thanks COVID!

My own family has put the kibosh on large holiday gatherings. We usually have about 20-25 people at each holiday. I’ll miss them, but it’s understandable! Instead, we are moving to smaller family units for Thanksgiving celebrations- parents and children (adult or kid).

Since I’ll be missing our big, crazy family holidays, it got me thinking. What are some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving with the whole family, without actually being with the whole family? Maybe you are also thinking of ways to celebrate this year!

13 Ideas to Celebrate Thanksgiving 2020

So, I came up with 13 ideas to celebrate Thanksgiving 2020- during a time of social distancing when you can’t be with your whole family. These ideas can be done by each individual, or each family unit (couple, parents/kids, whatever) or each friend…anyone you usually spend Thanksgiving with!

Okay okay enough talking, here’s the list!

Have a recipe swap: A few weeks before Thanksgiving, have each person/family unit find a recipe for part of the big meal- the main dish, a side, dessert, drink etc. Send all the recipes to a designated person, who will compile them into one document for the whole meal. That person then sends out the document with all the recipes to each person/family unit so everyone has a full meal of recipes. You can then all make the same meal to enjoy on the big day as if you were eating together! You can even video call or text about which recipe ends up being your favorite!

Hand turkey drawing: Have each kid in the family draw their own hand turkey! Embellish as much as they want! When they are done, take pictures of each turkey to send around to all the family. The adults can get in on the fun too and have a contest for who can draw the most outrageous hand turkey!

Send Thanksgiving cards: I think we all know about the tradition of sending Christmas cards, so why not send Thanksgiving cards too! Let people know you are thinking of them and catch up on the news from each family.

Thanksgiving Bingo: Okay, now this is one of my favorites! It’s become something of a tradition to play regular Bingo when we go to my in-laws house for a celebration. For this version of Bingo, each family unit will print out a card to use in their respective house celebrations and try to cross off as many squares to get Bingo as they can! Text each other when your family gets a Bingo so you can keep track of who is winning!

For your convenience, I have made a printable Thanksgiving Bingo card that you can download and print! There are two versions. One is mostly filled in with small “events” that could happen at a Thanksgiving dinner (like someone taking a nap, watching football etc). But I left three empty squares for you to write in your own traditions exclusive to your family celebrations (something like, “Dad complains about the peas” or whatever!).

The other version is completely blank in case you want to fill it in completely yourself. Just click on each picture or the download button to download, and then print as many as you need!

Thanksgiving BIngo
bingo blank

Instructions: Have each family unit print a card to use in their house celebration. When one of the small events happens (example: you watch a football game), cross it out. When you have a row of five- horizontally, vertically, or diagonally- you have a Bingo! Text your other family members who are playing to let them know you got Bingo. At the end of the day see who has the most!

Create unique pie or cocktail recipes: Have each person/family unit create a unique spin on one of the traditional dishes or beverages you have at big celebrations. On the big day, you can video call or regular call each other to describe what you made and how it tastes.

Start a text chain: Start a texting chain with the whole family! You can check in on each other throughout Thanksgiving day. Or use the chain to update each other if you are doing one of these other activities. Use the chain as if you were just having a big conversation all together in person!

Have the kids put on a play: If you have active, playful kids, try suggesting they come up with a play for Thanksgiving day. You can video call the rest of your family members and everyone can watch together as they act it out!

Send a gift basket: Send a gift basket to your other family units or friends to let them know you are thinking of them. It can be something Thanksgiving related or something to be used at another time.

Rent/find the same movie on a streaming service and watch it at the same time: Start the movie at the same time. You can use the text chain to update everyone what you think about the movie!

Play a questions game: Regular family celebrations often bring a lot of questions as people catch up with each other. So how about playing a questions game? Either through texting or video call, have each person ask a general or specific (normal or funny!) question, and everyone else answers it!

After dinner walk scavenger hunt: I don’t know about you, but in my family we do a lot of walking! After the big dinner, we usually take a walk around the neighborhood. This activity is for the younger kids to get involved- a walking scavenger hunt! Each family unit can print out one of these scavenger hunt cards for the kids to use. See how many each family can find in their neighborhood, and then text or video call the rest of the family to share what they saw!

Feel free to download this scavenger hunt printable I made for you! Just click the picture or the download button to download, then print it. I also made a blank one in case you want to fill it in yourself!

thanksgiving scavenger hunt
scavenger hunt

Watch football games and pick the winners: Watch the same football games and predict the winners. Who can get the most right? Start a family pick’em pool!

Start a thankful jar: Throughout the month of November, have everyone you normally celebrate with send a text or email to one designated person with something they are thankful for. Send as many as you like! This person will be responsible for writing them all down and putting them into a jar. When Thanksgiving arrives, pull out the jar and read them one by one out loud on a video call with everyone!

BONUS: This isn’t really an activity but just a reminder- that whatever you do for Thanksgiving this year, make sure you reach out to your loved ones and let them know you are thinking of them. Holidays are all about celebrating with your friends and family, and even though this year might be different and you might not be able to see them- just checking in on each other can mean the world. Happy Thanksgiving!

Let me know in the comments if you have any other great ideas for how to celebrate this Thanksgiving 2020!


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  1. Thanks for the ideas! This year is definitely going to be different than previous years since we can’t see our families for the usual feast. But we’re finding other fun things to do. I love the Thanksgiving scavenger hunt idea! I downloaded it for our kids!

  2. Thanks so much for this really excellent list. My family and I have also decided to not have a big gathering for Thanksgiving. We are all planning to Zoom at some point in the evening. I think the BINGO game is going to be a hit! We are a game family so this will be perfect! The scavenger hunt is also going to be added to our task list for after dinner! Thank you so much!

  3. These are awesome recommendations! I love the Bingo idea and the kids putting on a play. I wish we still had small children running around in our fam to do it. Thanks so much for including the printables. So helpful!

  4. Thanks for the ideas and sharing! This year we will be doing a ZOOM meeting. We can all see each other at the same time and interact. Knowing my family there will be a lot of laughs and busting on each other. A family Zoom toast will also be included! Happy Thanksgiving to your family ❤️!

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