Creative Ideas for Celebrating Holidays During the Pandemic


Is the pandemic wreaking havoc on your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?   With a little creativity, you can still make the holiday meaningful.  Read on for a few ideas to get you started.

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 28 years experience.

Ready to Try A New Holiday “COVID-19 Safe” Tradition?

Creative Ideas for Celebrating Holidays During the Pandemic

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. My family spends the day steeped in tradition, including a large southern-style meal.  After the feast, anyone 16 years and younger participate in the annual holiday talent show.  Because the pandemic has already stolen so much of my time with loved ones, I found myself absolutely dreading November 26th. So, I decided to seek out creative ideas to celebrate the holiday, but still keep social distancing a priority.  I’d love to share a few and who knows….maybe we’ll even find a new tradition.

Scale Back

I’m sure all of our holiday guest lists will shrink in numbers this year.  Think about scaling back your menu to avoid the preparation stress-out. Do you usually cook turkey and ham?  Try having only 1 meat selection and  fewer side dishes.  I’ve actually ordered a “basic” Thanksgiving meal from a local supermarket (little prep, little clean-up)

Donate To Those in Need

Have you ever tallied up how much you spend preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving?  I love the idea of donating a portion (or all) of what you would have spent to a local charity.  You can donate individually or invite others to give as a group.  Many of us know someone who has died from the virus this year.  This is an opportunity to celebrate the person’s life by making a donation to their favorite cause or another charity close to your heart.

Have a Virtual Celebration

Great news!  Just for Thanksgiving, Zoom is doing away with their “40 minute limit” to allow more time for use to celebrate virtually.  Family and friends can video conference, from 12 midnight on November 26th to 6am November 27th, without worrying about a strict time-limit.  Here are a few ideas to make the most out of your virtual celebration.

  • Each person share what they are most thankful for this year
  • Have a representative from each family share the year’s “family news”.
  • Welcome new family members and friends and provide introductions
  • Share pictures/video from past holiday get-togethers.

Here is an overview of a few other free video conferencing apps.

Tech Review: Apps to Make Your Virtual Thanksgiving a Hit

Do you have a creative idea for virtual gatherings?  Feel free to share it with the group in the comment section at the end of this article.

Take it Outdoors

Instead of an indoor celebration, consider an outdoor picnic or backyard bonfire. Weather permitting, of course. And, who said a Thanksgiving meal MUST be turkey and dressing?  You can go with an easy, simple meal and use the space outdoors to your safety advantage.

We live by a large creek and have chairs spaced around a large fire pit.  I can feel the warmth of the fire and can taste the roasted weenies and s’mores.

Have a Thanksgiving Parade

Skip your tradition and organize a family and friends parade.  Don’t worry, no floats needed, just ask your group to decorate their cars, make posters or bring noise makers. The high-risk members of your group can sit on their porch and safely watch the parade go by.  

The parade could also be used to deliver sweet treats or other Thanksgiving goodies right to the door.

Watch a Holiday Movie

Do you have a favorite holiday movie?  Staying home and watching a movie is another way you can bolster your holiday spirit.  Here is a 2020 holiday movie guide from NPR, including programs on popular streaming apps.

The Cider-Sipping, Mitten-Wearing Guide To 2020 Holiday Movies

Like old and newer movies? Click here to check out Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the 59 greatest Christmas movies of all time.  

Travel Low-Key Style

Big family gatherings and crowded airports are risky during a pandemic.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your family on a low-key weekend trip.  There are probably great destinations right in your home state.  Check out state parks for camping ideas or cabin rentals.  Consider a hiking/biking day trip for the family.

Other Ideas?

Have you made plans to creatively celebrate Thanksgiving this year?  I encourage you to share your ideas/plans in the comment section below.  And, check out the links below for more ideas and tips.

J.Adderton RN MSN has over 25 years nursing experience, specializing in education, leadership and community health. She wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday.

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3 Comment(s)

tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN, RN

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Thank you for posting these great ideas!!  I am definitely going to incorporate some of these in my Thanksgiving.  For years, we have met at my sister-in-law's house with about 25 relatives.  My husband has 5 siblings, plus now all the grandkids, etc.  This started before we were married.  Luckily my husband and I were high school sweetheart with family living in the same town many times we ate 2 Thanksgiving dinners).  The tradition has continued...until this year.

We have already planned the Thanksgiving Zoom..just have to decide on the time.  One sister-in-law and her family live in the UK, so the timing is a bit more challenging.  But we are looking forward to this.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

dianah, ADN

Specializes in Cath Lab/Radiology. Has 46 years experience.

We will probably have a Thanksgiving Zoom Get-together, trying to keep things low-key and limiting contact.  It will be nice to hear from family, though, even if we can't physically be together.  There is still much to be thankful for!

J.Adderton, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 28 years experience.

19 hours ago, dianah said:

 There is still much to be thankful for!

Yes, and it will be nice to focus on all the good things in my life this holiday season.