Making Thanksgiving Special Without Family Gatherings


Thanksgiving During Covid

For lots of families, the most wonderful time of the year might actually be the loneliest time of 2020. With COVID-19 cases continuing, many of us either live too far away from extended family to safely travel, or simply don’t feel comfortable in a large gathering with elderly grandparents and young children. Either way, this Thanksgiving will look very different;  but if we are intentional, we can find ways to celebrate even during a pandemic. Here are some ideas for making Thanksgiving special without family gatherings.

Consider Decorating Anyway

Maybe you’ve always traveled to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving, and this is the first year you will be sitting at your own table. Just because it’s a group of five, not 25, doesn’t mean you can’t bring the magic of the holidays to your own home! Have some fun brainstorming a Thanksgiving tablescape. Get the kids involved, picking out the perfect napkins, tablecloth, or corn husks for the centerpiece. Pinterest makes it easy to save your ideas and choose your favorites during a family meeting! Decorations can create sentimental memories for kids, and you might find yourself bringing them out every year from now on. Plus, with the way this year has gone, it’s good to find little ways to bring joy into our homes.

Create Special Crafts for Grandparents

Surprise Grandma and Grandpa with special Thanksgiving crafts in the mail! Your kids will love tracing their hands to make a turkey, or painting foraged leaves to create a special piece of art. Grandparents have felt especially isolated this year, and this is a great way to brighten their spirits.

Cook the Dang Turkey… or DON’T

You’re in charge of this Thanksgiving dinner, so YOU get to decide which parts are worthy of all that effort! If the idea of a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner stresses you out, choose only your very favorite dishes. Or, consider supporting a local business and purchasing an entire Thanksgiving spread from them. You don’t have to grocery shop or cook, and you’re helping keep Portland dining alive. Win-win!

Get Together Virtually

Maybe your family is scattered across the country (or world). Thanks to technology, you can STILL be together for the holidays! Plan a family activity using Zoom or FaceTime. You can buy a Jackbox Party Pack to play party games together online, or simply prompt everyone to share what they are thankful for. You can even all purchase the same food or drink item and do a virtual tasting!


In such a hard year, remind your kids that we all have the power to make our world brighter and better. Consider volunteering as a family. There are many opportunities to serve houseless individuals and others who would be blessed by a warm meal.

Do Something for Yourself

No doubt that you’re carrying a lot of tension and anxiety from these past few months. If you’re saving time or money from not traveling for the holidays, why not invest some of those resources into YOU? If socially-distant spa treatments aren’t an option, perhaps treat yourself to a luxurious silk pillowcase, a fire pit to relax by in the backyard, or some new essential oils to try. Don’t feel guilty about filling up your own cup so that you are refreshed and ready to take care of your family.

Remember, our kids are looking to us to set the tone for 2020’s holiday season. We have the opportunity to shape their opinion of this year’s celebrations! We’re making history, and every day we’re writing a story that will be told for generations. Challenge yourself to make the best of things and find joy in the smallest moments.