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How To Host a Smaller, More Virtual Thanksgiving

How to streamline your prep, downsize your dishes, and create entertaining virtual activities.

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Thanksgiving has always been a holiday of quandaries. How do you cook four main dishes with one oven and a 3pm start time? What’s the best way to change the subject when politics crop up at the dinner table? And why, on this day of all days, are marshmallows considered a perfectly reasonable dinner ingredient?

Thanksgiving 2020 comes with its own unique complications and disappointments, not least how to reinvent the holiday with fewer people in attendance or include those dining via screens. Still, it’s possible to celebrate on a smaller scale, enjoy the feast, and start new traditions.

Consider this your guide to streamlining your prep, downsizing your dishes, and creating entertaining virtual activities — including deploying Zoom’s “mute” function for certain family members.


Assess the Situation

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Recreating Thanksgiving in the Time of Coronavirus

Arati Menon Food52

How will we gather? What will fill our tables? We ask chefs, writers, business owners, and our community what the holiday will look—and feel—like for them.

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How To Have a Safer—but Not Safe—Pandemic Thanksgiving

Brian Resnick Vox

11 questions to ask if you really, really want to have Thanksgiving this year.

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Rethinking the Holidays: Traditions, Change Are on the Table

Melissa Rayworth AP News

What does it look like when when longstanding holiday traditions can’t happen?

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Thinking About a Holiday Gathering? Look at This Troubling Map First

Lindsay Tigar Wired

An alarming visualization shows the odds that at least one Covid-positive person attends a given event. It should give us all pause about family plans.

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8 Ways to Cope If You Can’t See Family and Friends This Holiday Season

Lindsay Tigar Real Simple

Celebrating alone or with a smaller group than usual doesn’t mean you can’t still feel the holiday cheer.

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Go Virtual

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How to Make Socially Distanced Holidays Actually Feel Special

S. Bear Bergman Vice

Jews have now had all of our major holidays, and have learned a lot about balancing safety and celebration during a pandemic.

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How to Host a Zoom Thanksgiving

Erica Schwiegershausen The Cut

We reached out to event planners for tips on how to pull off a virtual holiday gathering that might actually be enjoyable.

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Thanksgiving Goes Virtual: How To Carve Out New Traditions Amid the Ongoing Pandemic

Jura Koncius Washington Post

A virtual Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving gathering won’t smell or taste delicious, but increasingly, people are realizing it is the safer option during the current crisis.

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Get Cooking (and Decorating)

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The Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner Menu for Your Smaller Celebration

Laura Rege Martha Stewart

Hosting fewer guests this holiday season due to the coronavirus pandemic? Then try our go-to menu. All the essential dishes are here, just on a smaller scale.

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Thanksgiving Meal With Few People Means No Expectations, Freedom To Do What You Want [Listen]

Madeleine Brand KCRW

Good Food host Evan Kleiman offers ideas for a downsized Thanksgiving feast, appropriate for a small gathering

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Sheet Pan Thanksgiving Dinner

Chungah Rhee Damn Delicious

Turkey, stuffing, brussels sprouts + sweet potatoes in less than 2 hours. So quick with easy clean up.

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Your Guide to Hosting a Super-Stylish, Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Emma Bazilian House Beautiful

Eddie Ross shares his secrets.

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104 Easy Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Minimalist Baker

Everything from appetizers to sides, mains and (obviously) dessert.

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Mini Pumpkin Pies

Christina Lane Dessert for Two

Two-bite small pumpkin pie recipe that is perfect for a small Thanksgiving for two dinner menu.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers Hand Pies

Food Network

Stuffed full of our favorite Thanksgiving leftovers, these savory hand pies are a welcome twist on the usual day-after sandwiches

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Add Some Extra Fun

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6 Tips to Help You Plan Your Best Virtual Race

Andrew Dawson Runner’s World

From creating your route to breaking your toilet-paper finish-line tape, we’ve got you covered.

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Where And How To Volunteer This Thanksgiving—No Matter Where You Live

Kristin Salaky Delish

You can do so safely during COVID-19.

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7 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Deborah Way and Debra Immergut Parents

Keep your kids busy this Turkey Day with an assortment of free, educational, and interactive activities.

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The Best Movies to Watch on Thanksgiving

The A.V. Club

If Turkey Day doesn’t have an It’s A Wonderful Life or a Halloween to call its own, there are still a handful of recommendable films that are either built around the holiday or use it as a backdrop for a memorable scene.

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Good Wines Won’t Fix Thanksgiving, but They Couldn’t Hurt

Eric Asimov The New York Times

If bottles are to be opened, why not select them with the same diligence you apply to choosing the perfect recipe for mashed potatoes?

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