Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas: No More Awkward Video Calls

Age: 0+

Time: 10–30 minutes

Materials: computer, smartphone, or tablet for video communication


Focus: communication

We’ve now done Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, and six family birthdays on Zoom so far this year. At this point, it’s honestly terrible. My Thanksgiving dinner ideas usually center around searching for new recipes or crafts or decorations.

But this year, while just my husband, son, and I sit around the table, we’re going to eat the most basic version of a classic Thanksgiving meal (made in much smaller quantities) and stare at a laptop camera yet again.

Unlike all those previous virtual holidays, though, we’re determined to do something useful this time around. We’re actually going to have a purpose to the video calls with extended family besides commiserating how much it stinks that we’re not together laughing and/or drinking and/or wondering why the kids are quiet all of a sudden.

We all wish things were different. There’s no doubt about it. But we can absolutely make the best of a bad situation and create a wonderful keepsake to treasure for future generations at the same time.

Besides the standard pre-meal shot of the whole family, we don’t normally do much to record our Thanksgivings. A video to record all the blessings, stories, rituals, and love we still share despite the physical distancing, will be something I know my family will be proud to create together.

Before Thanksgiving, email a list of fun family-friendly history questions or ask your relatives to think of a story they want to tell.

On Thanksgiving Day, record them answering the questions or telling their story to the family.

Afterward, pat yourself on the back for making the best of a bad situation while still creating a wonderful keepsake recording of your family culture.

Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas: Conversation Starters

Learn about Grandma’s younger years.

We don’t usually get sloshed on Thanksgiving, but if you do, you can still be drunk while recording, don’t let the video stop you from enjoying yourself. If you’re a more sober household or don’t want future generations to see you dribbling wine all over yourself, grab a cup of tea and record you and Grandma talking about her childhood, her wedding day, or when she hiked the Appalachian Trail.

Explore the family tree.

Get your aunt who’s really into genealogy to tell about all the family ne’er-do-wells she learned about last time she read that New England Historical Record of People You Should be Embarrassed About and/or Proud of In Your Family Tree.

Make everyone laugh.

Let Grandpa tell a joke or many. Capture the bad puns and the raunchy punch lines. If those are the things you look back on and smile about, capture them while you can.

Embarrass your siblings.

Share some secrets from your childhood. Tell everyone how your amazing older sister used to send your naive 7 y.o. self to the corner gas station to buy HER candy while she was supposed to be babysitting you … every Tuesday night for 4 years. (True story.)

Dive into those precious recipes.

Get some family recipes recorded. Record someone making a dish. Ask where it came from and why it’s the preferred dish.

These very unusual holidays are only doom and gloom if we decide it is. Expand your Thanksgiving dinner ideas beyond the normal menu and look around at all the wonderful things you can create for your family with the click of a button.

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Somer Loomis

Somer is the Chief Content Officer at Raising Families living in Southern California with her husband and five-year-old son. She spent 10 years in the architecture field as a designer and medical planner and now applies her love of integrative thinking and big-picture planning to her family and career. Read full bio >>

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