How to Celebrate Thanksgiving While Social Distancing

Here's our guide on how to social distance while you give thanks this Thanksgiving. Check out these 15 tips!

Brittany Barber


Contemplating how to celebrate Thanksgiving while social distancing this year? Well, join the club. The usual annual gathering of your entire extended family (and whoever the heck else they bring along) just isn’t going to slide, obviously, because of COVID-19. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean we have to cancel altogether. By following these social distancing Thanksgiving ideas and tips, you can give thanks, eat your ridiculous mound of food, and simultaneously avoid breathing on each other. I know, crazy right? 

Between figuring out how to throw a safe birthday party and social distancing this Halloween — I’d say we’re getting pretty darn good at adapting to this new kind of celebrating. So! Stay informed, keep grandma safe, and have a happy Thanksgiving. 


Here are 15 tips on how to social distance at your Thanksgiving celebration:

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Review COVID-19 Precautions

The first and most important thing you can do while you plan Thanksgiving dinner? Be informed. Make sure you're up to date with the latest COVID-19 news in your area. Check out organizations like WHO and CDC — they offer excellent information and recommendations to help you stay safe. 

Keep it Small 

An easy yet effective way to social distance this Thanksgiving is to keep your dinner party guest list small, or even limited to those you live with. That may mean foregoing your traditional family Thanksgiving — but that's okay! Celebrate a "Friendsgiving" with your roommates, or enjoy an intimate Thanksgiving dinner with your S/O. 

Backyard Dining 

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If you're lucky enough to live somewhere that won't give you frostbite in late November, why not host your dinner outside? Dining outdoors can help minimize the possibility of COVID-19 transmission, so what are you waiting for? Skip indoor dining if you can, and celebrate in the backyard!

You could even make it a fun Thanksgiving day event with outdoor games and entertainment! Make sure to bust out any fall decorations you have, and don't hesitate to fire up the BBQ or firepit. 

Give Thanksgiving Masks

As an added source of protection, don't forget to tell your guests to wear masks this Thanksgiving. You could even buy or make some ahead of time, and give them out as mini party favors! Make them autumn or Thanksgiving-themed — it'll add to the Thanksgiving festivities. 

Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize! 

Make sure your guests have ample access to hand sanitizer. Set up stations in each area you expect your guests to be in. Pay special attention to entranceways, as well as in and outside of bathrooms. The cleaner your hands, the better! 

Send Thanks 

Even if you can't physically see all of your loved ones this Thanksgiving, you can still show them gratitude! Send out Thanksgiving cards, emails with photos of family attached, or even a virtual singing telegram for a unique greeting experience. Why not? Let them know you're thinking of them this Thanksgiving! 

Hire a Caterer 

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A safe and easy way to prepare Thanksgiving dinner is to make sure only one person is handling the food. You could ask your family if anyone wants to volunteer, or you could look to a professional caterer to handle everything for you.

Consider even ordering from a local restaurant instead — whether that means finding somewhere that makes traditional Thanksgiving dishes, or switching up the cuisine! You could do the same with drinks by hiring a bartender too. Whatever you decide, it's best to keep it as simple as possible this Thanksgiving. 

Make it Virtual 

The easiest way to avoid COVID-19? Staying! At! Home! Why not celebrate Thanksgiving virtually this year? We have a whole other article dedicated to giving you virtual Thanksgiving celebration ideas. If you're considering it, take a look! We even have hi-res Thanksgiving Zoom backgrounds you can download (for free!) to use for the celebratory virtual hangout. 

Head to Nature

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Weather permitted, take your Thanksgiving celebration to the great outdoors! Whether that means going on a weekend camping trip with your immediate family or simply going for a day hike - don't forget to pack turkey sandwiches. 

Entertain the Kids 

If your kids can't gather with all their cousins and friends this Thanksgiving, make it special for them in a new way! Make crafts, go on a virtual field trip, or even hire entertainment. P.S. we've got these 6 Thanksgiving activities for kids.

If you're hosting a small gathering, hiring an entertainer like a storyteller or a costumed character can make all the difference to the kids who will be present. They're even available as virtual entertainment, in case you're going the digital route.  

Play a Game

Make sure to have an activity you can do during your social distancing Thanksgiving! Games like bingo, trivia, and charades are great party games that don't require any physical contact. If you're hosting your Thanksgiving gathering in the backyard, check out our list of awesome games to play outside! You'll be sure to find something that works for you and your guests. 

Enjoy Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from Home

Those of us who don't live in New York are in for a treat this Thanksgiving. This year, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will be available to anyone, anywhere, online! 

If a part of your Thanksgiving tradition was to physically go to the parade, you'll have the chance to watch it from the comfort of your own home. And those of you who have never watched it? You should definitely check it out! Your kids will love it, and it'll make for a fun Thanksgiving 2020 activity you can all enjoy. 

Organize a Thanksgiving Tailgate

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Get your turkey sandwiches, picnic blankets, and hot apple cider—and put them in your trunk! Organize a convenient place to meet, and have a socially distanced Thanksgiving out of the trunk of your own car! If your loved ones are scattered across the state, meet somewhere in the middle and enjoy your autumn afternoon. 

Thanksgiving Football 

Does your family watch football together every Thanksgiving? Well! You're in luck! You'll still get to watch the game and enjoy it from home. Weather permitted, you could even host a small viewing of the game in your backyard. Get ready to snack, sit back, and enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving day. 

Require Guests to Get Tested 

If you'll be hosting more than your household this Thanksgiving, ask your guests to get tested a day or two before the gathering. This will ensure everyone is healthy, safe, and anxiety-free!

Find more Thanksgiving celebration ideas on The Bash.

About Brittany Barber
Brittany Barber, lover of books, dogs and romance, graduated from Bishop’s University with a Communications and Theatre degree. After spending some time working abroad in the theatre world, she is now a freelance writer covering a range of lifestyle topics including wedding and event planning for The Bash, WeddingWire, 2life and Fluttr.

Published on 10/7/2021