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How to Host a Virtual Thanksgiving

How to Host a Virtual Thanksgiving

5 minute read

This year, the holidays are going to look a little bit different. With the risks of spreading COVID-19 to others during family gatherings, most experts are recommending a virtual Thanksgiving in 2020. Hosting this type of event may sound like a no-prep situation. However, you're going to want to plan ahead to make the most of this festive occasion. These tips can help you enjoy making memories with family and friends, even if you aren't together on Thanksgiving Day.

Keep the Numbers Down

While it's true that you can host a virtual event with dozens of different participants, it can be challenging to enjoy the conversation and comments with too many people at once. To make it easier for every one to chat and visit without getting overwhelmed or fading into the background, consider keeping your party to a maximum of 5 households. This way, it's easier to take turns and enjoy your time together.

Pick a Video Chat Platform and Do a Test Run

Whether your family prefers Zoom, Face Time or Google Meet, be sure to choose a virtual meeting platform that works for everyone on your guest list. Once you've made your selection, schedule a test run so everyone can learn the ins and outs of logging on, adjusting the video and volume and positioning their device for ease of use. This way, you won't cut into your valuable time on the big day.

Create an Itinerary

Setting a schedule for the day can help everyone know how to plan and what to expect, while giving your guests the option of joining in at a time that works best for their household. As the host, you should be prepared to stay logged on from start to finish. Still, a simple itinerary can keep things moving forward.

To begin, choose a time frame that works for everyone in your group. Keep families with young children or work obligations in mind here. Then, set aside times for each event so everyone can plan accordingly. An example may be:

        12:30- Greetings and Appetizers

        1:00- Thanksgiving Dinner

        1:45- Gratitude Speeches/ Thanksgiving Toast

        2:00- Photo Slideshow & Dessert

        2:45- Family Board Games

        4:00- Holiday Movie Time

Remind your guests that there will be a lot of coming and going as everyone finishes meal prep. There's no need to stress about being present at every moment. While you'll likely need to make minor adjustments the day of, having a plan can keep everyone on the same page for the day.

Decide On a Dress Code

These days, COVID-19 has made it tough to get out and celebrate. We're less likely to dress up for a night on the town, so encourage a festive dress code to add a little spark to your socially-distanced meal. You can ask your guests to dress to impress to give the event a fancy flare. Or, you can choose a fun dress code to liven things up. Costumes, ugly sweaters, sports jerseys and even PJ's can be the makings of a memorable holiday meal.

Send Out Personalized Invitations

Simple, personal touches are going to make a big difference this year, especially since you won't be able to interact with each other in person. To help everyone feel more connected, take the time to send out an official invitation with all of the information your guests will need. Handwritten mail can feel extra special, so go over the top with custom Thanksgiving invitations if your budget allows. If you need to save the cash, you can also send out free e-vites with direct links to the virtual meeting.

Choose One Recipe to Share

There's a good chance the menu will vary from household to household during your virtual Thanksgiving. Still, you can choose one recipe that's meaningful to your group and encourage everyone to make a batch to enjoy together. Be sure to send a copy of the recipe at least one week in advance so everyone has time to gather the ingredients. Desserts and cocktails are a great choice for this idea.

Other Ideas for a Memorable Event

Thanksgiving isn't just about the meal; it's about the time you spend with those who matter most to you. Keep everyone connected with these simple and fun activities.

Create and Share a Photo Slideshow

Ask every household to send 10-15 photos from the past year and create a Thanksgiving slideshow to watch together. You can use Power Point or other applications to display it during your virtual hangout, or simply point your camera at the screen when it's time to view it. Be sure to send everyone a copy to keep after the event is over.

Stream a Movie Together

Many streaming platforms allow you to watch a movie together in real time. Choose a holiday classic that everyone can enjoy. It's a great way to laugh together at all of your favorite moments while kicking back in the comfort of your own home.

Make it a Game Night

Plenty of board games are lots of fun to play over video chat. Pictionary, charades, Yahtzee, and even Monopoly are popular choices. If you're choosing a game that requires everyone to have a set at home, make sure you give enough notice for each group to purchase it, borrow it or dig it out of storage!

Above All, Focus on the Positives

COVID-19 has come with its own set of hardships for everyone. While you may not celebrate the holidays in traditional ways, advances in technology have made it possible to stay safe and connected, which is the most important thing. A virtual Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to stay grateful and focus on the positives in your life.

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