12 Creative Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving This Year

You know things will look different for Thanksgiving 2021, but you can still give thanks and enjoy the company of your loved ones—while staying safe.

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paper box on the table homemade care packages
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Send Care Packages

If you won’t be seeing relatives for the holiday, you can show you’re thinking of them with a thoughtful care package. Include premade treats (these ship well) or even a recipe in a jar. Don’t forget to write them a nice note, too.

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High Angle View Of White Wine With Sawdust In Box
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Host a Wine Swap

In place of an annual Friendsgiving dinner, why not hold a wine swap with your closest friends? Have everyone draw names, then ship their recipient a bottle of wine to enjoy on Thanksgiving.

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Small mixed race group of people working in charitable foundation
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Collect Donations for a Food Pantry

Many food pantries have faced increased demand during the pandemic, and you can help make another family’s Thanksgiving brighter by collecting canned goods or monetary donations for your local food bank. Most organizations will even give you a list of the foods they need most.

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Man eating breakfast with egg, bacon, arugula on brioche bun and coffee
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Have Brunch Together

If you’re celebrating with your immediate family, shake things up this year and hold a Thanksgiving brunch. Choose from the best brunch recipes, and let everyone in your family pick their favorite. Then, plan a fun activity for the afternoon.

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Shot of african businesswoman having a video call on a laptop with her team. Woman having meeting on video call on laptop with diverse colleagues,
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Schedule a Virtual Celebration

No surprise, people are still hosting all kinds of virtual parties. If your family isn’t able to get together for Thanksgiving, you can still see each other using video calling software like Zoom. Set a designated time, and make sure to walk older family members through the process of setting up the program beforehand.

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A multi-ethnic family (mother, father, son, daughter) getting exercise by going for a jog at the park.
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Do a DIY Turkey Trot

Turkey Trots—which are typically 5K races—are a Thanksgiving tradition for many families. If the organized event is canceled this year, you can still hold your own Trot. Plot out a route, then don festive attire to walk or run around the neighborhood. It’s a great way to work up an appetite for the feast to come! (Here’s how to host a small-scale family Thanksgiving dinner.)

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Family playing football in front yard
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Organize a Family Football Game

Football is a traditional Thanksgiving pastime, so why not get your loved ones together for a friendly competition? If you’re playing with people outside your immediate family, be sure to implement no-touch rules to stay safe. (When you’re done, enjoy these snacks while watching the game on TV).

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Child celebrating Thanksgiving. Kid holding pumpkin in paper turkey hat. Autumn fun crafts and art. Little blond curly boy in decorated living room. Warm knitted wear. Fall season decoration.
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Do Arts and Crafts

Who doesn’t love a crafting day? There are lots of fun Thanksgiving crafts that both adults and children will enjoy, so stock up on construction paper and feathers and let your imagination run wild. Later, let your kids show off their creations to relatives via video chat.

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Multigenerational family together at dinner table at garden party in the sunset
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Dine Alfresco

If you’re going to have a traditional gathering with friends and family, the CDC guidelines note that a small outdoor event will be lower risk than dining indoors. This can be one of the most creative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, if you go all out with the decorations! Before you start scooping the mashed potatoes, learn how to give a Thanksgiving toast that celebrates the season.

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Takeaway meal packed in brown paper bag delivered to the front door of a residential building.
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Send Meals to Loved Ones

If you have older relatives who aren’t planning to do anything on Thanksgiving, you can make their day brighter with a contactless food delivery. Some restaurant chains let you order Thanksgiving meals, but you can also get them takeout from their favorite restaurant using a food delivery service.

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Mother with daughter hiking
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Go Hiking

Weather-permitting, work up an appetite on Thanksgiving by going hiking with your family. Pack snacks and plenty of water, then hit the trail for some quality time in the great outdoors. If you go in the morning, you’ll even have time to cook a turkey when you get home.

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BOB'S BURGERS: Bob is determined to do whatever it takes to cook a rare, heritage turkey after the gas goes out on Thanksgiving in the Now We're Not Cooking With Gas special Thanksgiving episode of BOBS BURGERS airing Sunday, Nov. 24 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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Watch Thanksgiving TV Episodes

For a laid-back Thanksgiving at home, gather your family in the living room and binge-watch some of the best Thanksgiving TV episodes. Some popular options include holiday episodes from Friends, Gilmore Girls and Bob’s Burgers, which are available on various streaming services.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn is a freelance lifestyle writer and product tester with eight years of experience testing hundreds of kitchen, home, garden and pet products. She brings her hands-on insight to the Taste of Home table and tests kitchen appliances, grills, home organization tools and more. Her tried-and-true product reviews appear in top lifestyle publications, such as The Spruce, Epicurious, Bon Appetit and People. Offline, she manages a small Rhode Island homestead where she tends to her gardens and furry animals.