Your Thanksgiving Survival Guide During a Pandemic Year

Thanksgiving may look different this year but let’s take these lemons and make some holiday lemonade

By: Dominique Michelle Astorino

What. A. Year. We’re in the home stretch of what — for many of us — has been the craziest year of our lives. And we’re still in the middle of so much craziness, so we’re turning our focus toward how to make the most of the holidays in 2020, adjusting to the ‘new normal’ that feels anything but normal. We never thought we’d have to brainstorm pandemic Thanksgiving ideas, but here we are! Let’s take these lemons and make some holiday lemonade.

Thanksgiving 2020: How to Make It Work

There are so many scenarios this year, especially due to travel limitations and closures, making it difficult for us to travel or celebrate Thanksgiving like most years. Fortunately, humans are a very creative species, and we’ve gathered some ideas we’ve read up on for connecting with loved ones near and far — in a pandemic.

Pandemic Thanksgiving Ideas to Make The Most of The Holiday Season 

Thanksgiving Drive-By Potluck

If you’re longing to share your favorite homemade foods with loved ones, try creating individual portions that you can drop off at different houses (if said loved ones are local) in a drive-by potluck. You can even make little goodie bags of sanitizer and tabletop essentials if you’re feeling like Martha Stewart. 

Distanced Dinner

If the weather outside is not frightful, you could try doing a backyard distanced-dinner. Some creative hosts and hostesses have set up folding card tables in spaced out parts of their yard to create little stations for households/couples, so you can be in the same space, even if you’re spread apart.

Virtual Thanksgiving

We’re guessing that many families are going to be doing Thanksgiving over video call this year. Choose the service (whether that’s Zoom, Google Meet, BlueJeans, etc.) that works best for your family in terms of time limits, pricing, and more. 

Send Good Tidings

Send your family and friends something special; maybe that’s a bottle of wine, ingredients to make your favorite holiday meal (you could host a virtual cooking class!), a dessert from your favorite bakery or patisserie, or a care package with holiday delights and decor. 

Managing Stress and Anxiety

One thing that remains the same — besides the love you have for your family and friends — is holiday stress! And for some of us, there might be second and third helpings of that stress this year (especially with all the changes that have come with 2020).

So, while you’re planning your pandemic Thanksgiving ideas and what Thanksgiving may look like for you this year, it’s also important to keep stress reduction in mind.

One of the best things you can do for yourself (and your family!) is to focus on stress-management so you can be your happiest, most present self when you sit down for dinner with them (virtually or physically). 

8 Tips for Holiday Stress Management

Stress is a constant in life. How you manage it is up to you — but it’s crucial!

#1 Talk therapy

If you have a therapist, make an appointment for Thanksgiving week (ideally beforehand).

#2 Journaling

Journaling can be incredibly cathartic and helpful for organizing your thoughts and reflecting on certain emotions objectively. You can step back and look at your thoughts and feelings, analyzing what you can do to shift perspective, or approach something differently.

#3 Creating Intentions and Mantras 

It’s mind-blowing how much setting an intention or having a repeated mantra can change the tone of your day. Consider focusing on a mantra or intention centered around feeling peaceful, grounded, and in the flow.

#4 Meditation 

We say this a lot, but that’s only because it’s SO important: start meditating! We have plenty of guided sessions for you. Be sure to integrate some five to ten-minute meditations into your pandemic Thanksgiving ideas and plan, and really all throughout the holiday season! Meditation is such a free and powerful tool we all could benefit from.

#5 Regular Exercise (even just 15 minutes) 

Exercise is a phenomenal way to regulate mood and relieve stress. We know the holidays are SO busy (even virtual holidays), so keep it simple, short, and sweet with quick 15 minute (or less!) workouts.

#6 Be Mindful of Your Moods, Your Triggers, and Your Needs 

Like setting an intention or mantra, thinking about what your day might look like in advance can be so powerful and helpful. Go through these scenarios in your head in advance, and think about how you want to handle them and what you can do to feel your best. 

#7 Have a Buddy on Call

it’s always good to have the ‘phone a friend’ option. If you’ve got a good pal, cousin, parent, significant other, or sibling that always knows what to say to help you feel a bit more calm and centered, make plans with them to be available for a quick call if you start to feel really anxious.

#8 Pre-plan Your Stress Respite 

Ah, yes, more planning! Consider what makes you feel better — your panic ‘off button’ — and plan it ahead of time. It could be a combination of things from this list (calling your therapist, journaling, working out, meditating), or maybe it’s watching a hilarious comedy with a bowl of popcorn or snuggling your dog. Plan your post-holiday wind-down session, and you’ll have a stress-free oasis waiting for you in the back of your mind.

Roll With The Punches

This is the year to truly go with the flow and let go of expectations. Yes, it hurts to feel like you’ve lost a tradition, and it stinks to not be able to see your family. This isn’t the year we wanted, but maybe — just maybe! — we can use this as a way to grow and adapt.

So, use these pandemic Thanksgiving ideas as inspiration to make new traditions, make light of a tough year, and make the most of what you’ve been given. We hope you find an adaptation that brings your heart joy and brings you closer to your loved ones this year. Happy Thanksgiving!