Celebrating Thanksgiving And COVID

Thanksgiving may look a little different this year, but it can be just a memorable and meaningful with the right precautions.

The celebration of Thanksgiving used to be about getting together in large groups, sitting over a table, and sharing a meal. It was about spending time with loved ones in proximity and being thankful for the many blessings of life. Although Covid-19 has threatened the traditional ways that Thanksgiving is celebrated, that does not mean it’s dead. There are many ways to celebrate the holiday while still abiding by CDC guidelines.

The Importance of Thanksgiving

Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving differently. However, there are still many things that families and individuals enjoy universally. Among these things are turkeys in the oven, the sound of laughter, holiday cheers, and gathering in groups to give thanks for loved ones and the joys of life. It also tends to be a time to celebrate tradition and explore new ones. This year, giving thanks is still just as important. If there was a time to give thanks, it might be now more than ever.

Consider a Virtual Thanksgiving

Face to face interaction can be much more fulfilling when it comes to gatherings. However, the CDC informs us that large gatherings always pose a risk to spreading the virus. For those who are at a higher risk for COVID, a virtual Thanksgiving may be a better alternative. Creating a large skype call during Thanksgiving dinner hour lets you gather, eat dinner, and still see each other’s faces.

Before – Plan a meal prep! This can include choosing recipes the whole family can make and start the video chat early so that everyone can still “cook” together. Get the kids involved with kid friendly recipes. Consider sending care packages to each other before Thanksgiving. These can be the cute themed little gifts to open during your video chat.

 At Thanksgiving – Come up with several activities to play together over video chat. Things like Pictionary or charades are still possible and encouraged. You could create a Thanksgiving bingo as well, or even have an ugly Thanksgiving sweater contest!

 After The Meal – This is the time to share what you’re thankful for. You can even plan on how you will be celebrating next time! This can provide hope for next year and bring the family a little closer.

Celebrating In Person

Thanksgiving during the pandemic may look a little different. If you want to organize a small get together with family, it’s important to plan it accordingly. This ensures that all your loved ones remain healthy. These are some of the rules from the CDC to follow when organizing:


  • Consider the number of COVID cases in your area. If you live in a hot spot, take deep consideration on having a physical event with loved ones, possibly hold a virtual one instead!
  • Location, location, location. It’s Important to consider where you will be holding the event. It’s best to gather outside, so separate tables by distance and household. Having people bring their own food can also keep contamination to a minimum.
  • Don’t let the gathering last too long. The longer the gathering, the longer the risk of exposure.
  • The number of people at the gathering should be kept to a minimum. Consider where people are traveling from, and have people quarantine first if they are traveling from hotspots.
  • Before and during the gathering the behavior of your attendees is important. If you know that some members are not practicing social distancing measures to the best of their ability, consider telling them to attend virtually or wait till next year. People should wear masks, and you may want to provide extras if necessary. Follow the guidelines of constant sanitizing and keeping a safe distance.


We know it can be difficult to make these changes and still make it feel meaningful. However, changes are necessary to ensure that your loved ones stay safe and healthy both for this Thanksgiving and the next one. Talking to your children about these changes can be difficult and hard to navigate, that’s why it’s may be helpful to follow these steps when discussing COVID.  Our YMCA branches will close at 4pm on Thanksgiving Day to allow our staff to spend time with their families.  Thank you for understanding.


YMCA of Greater Cincinnati