How to Have a Happy Pandemic Thanksgiving at Home

There are myriad reasons to love Thanksgiving, not least of which is fully giving yourself over to a half-dozen different kinds of cooked tubers.

This year, however, local, state and federal officials are urging families to celebrate at home and keep their in-person gatherings to members of their households to avoid inadvertently spreading COVID-19 among their extended families and loved ones.

But just because you’re getting out of you-know-who’s dried-out bird and gravy with burned aromatics, doesn’t mean you have to replace your annual banquet with Banquet turkey dinners.

Virtual Gatherings

There are a lot of advantages to Thanksgiving dinner over the internet, including not having to wear pants (do be careful where you slosh hot gravy).

By now, we should be pretty practiced with this, but if your family usually uses, say, Apple-only FaceTime but is including new folks, you may need an alternative. Zoom is the most common and very straight forward, and will lifted its 40-minute limit for those who don’t have a paid account. Google Meet is a free alternative that works on most devices.

If you have an older guest who might need tech support to join, Cyber Seniors offers free help nationwide.


Often, this is the part that makes interacting with extended family worth it, though this year it’s not potentially exposing those folks to a virus.

You may have your traditional already, but if not, plenty of local markets and restaurants can help you out with your Thanksgiving meal. Just check with your favorites for hot and take-and-bake options.

If you’re looking for a more home-spun meal, consider assigning parts of the meal, and then divvying up and dropping off at each others homes, and eating the meal over Zoom.

For those in need, the 10th Community Thanksgiving Dinner offers free meals curbside from 12 to 4 p.m. at South Slope, 980 N Front St. (you can contact Amanda at [email protected] or (319) 530-0135 with questions).

Games & Movies

While you can’t really construct a jigsaw puzzle virtually, and no one really likes playing Monopoly with that nephew who flips the board over anyway.

But there are lot of games that work well or can be adapted to remote play. By now, local retailers are well-versed in offerings that work remotely and would be happy to help find just the thing for your crew. Geek City Games suggested Mystery Detective plays plays “incredibly well,” as does the genre of “write-and-roll” games (think Yahtzee but better). You can also find versions of all sorts of games online, some free and some paid.

You can even get together to watch virtual movies with the free extension Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party), which works with Netflix (duh), Disney+, Hulu and HBO for watching on laptops and desktops.

The Centers for Disease Control offers some additional guidance to protect your family this holiday season.


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