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Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Zoom Call Attendees

Lots of Fun (and Crazy) Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During a Pandemic!

By Abby Martin

Thanksgiving is one of the most exciting holidays across the country, especially here in Massachusetts, the home of the Pilgrims! Traditionally, this is about the time we would all be flipping through supermarket circulars, anxiously planning our Thanksgiving dinners to serve to our loved ones. However, 2020 seems to have us sending Zoom links to family and friends and placing our grocery orders through Peapod. While stopping the spread is crucial to combatting the virus, it does not mean we can’t have lots of fun while we do it! Here are some recommendations on ways to celebrate, whether you are having a socially-distanced gathering or entertaining on a Zoom call!


The Best Part of Cooking Is Sampling, Right?

If watching the Thanksgiving parade isn’t the highlight of your Thanksgiving morning, I am guessing that you spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing (or “helping” to prepare) your Thanksgiving meal. At least for me, my breakfast before the biggest meal of the year consists of samples of the feast… who doesn't love mashed potatoes? Unfortunately, this year, especially if you are sharing Thanksgiving with your friends and family, snacking fans like me may be in for a rude awakening. While trying to limit the time we spend close to the Thanksgiving meal to avoid unnecessary contamination, we are also limiting our sample capabilities. Nevertheless, I’ve thought of a new Thanksgiving tradition you may want to keep around for a long time! 


Below is a recipe for mashed potatoes that you can make in five minutes in the microwave. This recipe from serves anywhere from 4-6 people, so feel free to modify so you still have room for your Thanksgiving dinner (or make it all, I won’t judge). 


  1. Wash eight potatoes, peel them, and then chop them into small, bite-sized pieces. Add two tablespoons of water into a microwavable bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes (the potatoes should still be soft).

  2. Now add in your liquid (broth, milk, or heavy cream), butter, and salt/ pepper. Mash the whole mixture until you have mashed potatoes.

  3. Enjoy either plain or load it up with cheese, sour cream, chives, or whatever toppings you can dream up. The options are endless!


I am currently eating my mashed potatoes now. I must admit that they are not life-changing, but if you are desperate to keep up this Thanksgiving breakfast tradition, I say go for it. Most critics on this site rated it 5 stars; you may have better luck than me! Remember to cook them for a long time. I used two tiny potatoes for my recipe, and I cooked them for 4.5 minutes. I wish I had cooked them for closer to eight because they are still chunky even after 10 minutes of mashing. There are some alternatives, however. If the stove is free the evening before Thanksgiving, try pre-making (real) mashed potatoes and storing them in the refrigerator until the next morning. Then, heat them in the microwave and enjoy. Lots of other Thanksgiving foods are still tasty after their preservation. Dishes like squash and macaroni and cheese can be made in advance and warmed up. Alternatively, you can just eat cereal and watch the Thanksgiving parade. Not the same, but good enough.


Get Festive With Your Mask

If you are getting together with your family and friends to celebrate the big day, try decorating your mask. We all love the cute face masks on Etsy, but with long shipping times, it is not super convenient when you are in a time crunch. So, decorating your face mask for Thanksgiving is the next best thing. Remember the turkey drawings we made in elementary school using our hands prints? Try replicating this with your face mask! Just cut out your hand from construction paper, decorate it, and glue it onto your face mask. Make sure to position it in a way that the turkey feathers do not get in the way, though!


Enjoy the Classics in an Abnormal Way

For my family, watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a Thanksgiving-Eve tradition. I do not think it would be Thanksgiving if my family and I were not watching Snoopy prepare toast and jelly beans or if I wasn't begging my family to stay for the Peanut reenactment of the First Thanksgiving, my personal favorite, but a bore to everyone else. Whether or not you are enjoying the educational aspect, we cannot let this tradition fall to the wayside. Enter Teleparty, a browser extension where you can watch movies with people in sync. Just add the extension to your browser and invite your family and friends to watch any movie you want. It works with sites like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO and even includes a chatroom so you and your family can stay connected. It is not just a Thanksgiving thing, either! Now, you can watch the latest episode of your favorite series with your friends!


Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner Pilgrim Style

We have all seen scenes of the first Thanksgiving: food getting passed around a large table in the Pilgrims’ Plymouth settlement. Pilgrims did not celebrate Thanksgiving in their houses but instead sat on the main road between their cottages. Try moving your table outside and enjoy some fresh air with your turkey. Be sure to bundle up, though. Currently, the forecast calls for the high of the day to be 61°F!


Hi, I’m Olaf, and During a Pandemic, I’m Not a Fan of Warm Hugs

Getting hugged during a pandemic can be a bit of an awkward situation, especially when you try to social distance. I mean, it is hard to say no to your grandparents when they offer hugs, but there are some exceptions like those in your COVID pod or group. But what if you REALLY have a preference? How do you get the message across?

Time for a little DIY! Use “My name is” stickers or safety pin a piece of paper to your shirt that says either “hugs welcomed” or “six feet, please” to send a nonverbal signal to your loved ones. Especially if you are hosting, offer these stickers to your guests so they can express their preference, too. You can also buy these, but if you choose the DIY route you can decorate them Thanksgiving style!


Host Your Own Thanksgiving Day Parade

Especially if you have a little brother or sister, birthday and holiday “drive-by” events have been a great way to celebrate and support social distancing during the pandemic. Consider jazzing up your Thanksgiving drive by asking families to decorate their cars. Not only does it encourage social distancing, driving around the neighborhood in your crazily decorated car can also be a huge bonding experience and an awesome way to celebrate!


This Halloween, You May Have Been Booed, but Have You Been Turkeyed?

When I was little, my friends and I would “Boo” each other during Halloween. We would leave candy on each other's doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run. Booing someone was always fun, so this Thanksgiving, why not try “Turkeying” a few of your friends? Just leave candy (unless you prefer to give your friends cranberry sauce… you do you) or a small gift at your friend's doorstep and run. Try to make this fun game a chain and invite other friends to pass on the fun!


These are just a few ideas on how to have a great Thanksgiving this year. Whether you are Zooming or having a socially-distanced gathering, be prepared to get creative and stray from tradition a little bit. Who knows, maybe a few of these ideas will stick with you for years to come! Stay safe!

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