How to Host a Virtual Thanksgiving

Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a time to get together with family, reflect on what you’re grateful for and eat your favorite holiday foods. This year, Thanksgiving is going to look a little different because of the pandemic. With the spike in COVID-19 cases, many healthcare professionals have been urging people to only spend Thanksgiving with those in their immediate household. With that said, you can still have an amazing Thanksgiving even if you aren’t physically with your family. Here is how you can host a virtual Thanksgiving party with friends and family in two easy steps.

1.       Pick your virtual platform to invite everyone on.

There are a variety of different virtual platforms you can use with Zoom being the most popular. On Nov. 10, Zoom tweeted that “as a thank you to our customers, we will be lifting the 40-minute limit for all meetings globally from midnight ET on Nov. 26 through 6:00 a.m. ET on Nov. 27 so that your family gatherings don’t get cut short.” If you are interested in creating a Zoom meeting for your Thanksgiving festivities, go to, sign in or sign up for Zoom, schedule a meeting, fill in the appropriate information, save and then copy your meeting link. Then, send the meeting link to everyone you’re inviting to your virtual Thanksgiving.

If Zoom isn’t your jam, Microsoft Teams and Google Meets are both great options too.

2.       Pick what fun things you’re going to do.

It may be surprising, but there are many Thanksgiving traditions you may have done that you can do virtually. Here are four Thanksgiving activities you can do during your virtual gathering.

a.       Cook

Cooking can be fun when you’re alone, but it’s so much better when you’re doing it with people. Consider choosing a recipe that everyone on your virtual platform is making, and then everyone can make the recipe together. You could make pie, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, gravy or even cranberry sauce for your Thanksgiving meal.

Photo Courtesy: Eliot Gentiluomo

b.       Watch a TV show or movie

If you have a movie or video you’ve been wanting to watch with friends and family, now is your chance! Using Teleparty, you can watch anything with those at your virtual thanksgiving and there is a chat feature to chat about what’s going on. To begin, download the Google Chrome extension, Teleparty. Next, open a movie or TV show on Netflix, Hulu, HBO or Disney plus in Chrome. Then, click on the TP Chrome icon on the right and hit start party. To share the link with friends, click the white copy logo next to your profile picture to the right. Once you have clicked the logo, it will copy to your clipboard, so you can share it with friends and family.

Photo Courtesy: Callie Gerber

c.       Complete an art project.

If you’re feeling creative, do some sort of art project. Over your virtual platform, you could paint with Bob Ross by watching one of his videos and following along with friends. You could also learn how to crochet, knit, or even cross stitch with everyone at your virtual party.  

Photo Courtesy: Callie Gerber

d.       Play virtual games.

Many game designers have created virtual games for others to enjoy during the pandemic. If you enjoy Settlers of Catan, you’ll love the virtual version called Colonist.

In addition, Playing Cards has lots of different virtual games to play such as 500, Backgammon, Checkers, Chess, Cribbage, Crazy Eights, Escoba, Euchre, Go Fish, Hearts and even Joking Hazard.

Another game you can play with family and friends is Jackbox. You can buy the party pack(s) off of Steam and then share your screen at your virtual party. This game is best for ages 13 and up, but if you are playing with family it might be best to turn the family-friendly mode on.

Photo Courtesy: Callie Gerber

Although it may be hard to not see loved ones in person this year, spending time virtually will keep everyone safe and likely slow the spread of the virus. Choose a virtual platform to use, invite your loved ones, pick an activity and, virus or not, have the best Thanksgiving ever.