8 Ways to Virtually Share Thanksgiving With Your Family This Year

From gratitude letters to a long-distance pie decorating contest, here are eight ways to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family this year, even if you’re not physically together.

Leaves and pecans decorate the side of a pie for Thanksgiving family ideas.
Claudia Cash

If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that plans change and we need to roll up our sleeves and get a little creative when it comes to connecting with our friends and family.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing for Thanksgiving this year: making the best of the situation I’ve been dealt, and busting out some creative ways to involve my family members who live 800+ miles away!

Sharing a Long-Distance Thanksgiving

A nontraditional Thanksgiving? This is not an unusual concept for me.

I grew up with my mom who worked night shifts as a nurse, so we never had traditional holidays. We’d often celebrate on a different day, or on the holiday itself, but then we’d eat hospital cafeteria food while she was on her break.

Then, when I was a teenager, my youngest brother was diagnosed with cancer and life turned upside down. There were many times we couldn’t celebrate holidays or birthdays with family or friends, but my parents always taught us that no matter where we were, there were always ways we could connect.

Wondering how you, too, can connect with your family this Thanksgiving, even over a long distance? Here are a few ideas!

Thanksgiving family ideas with cardstock paper and pens.
Claudia Cash

Exchange Favorite Family Recipes

Does Grandma have a sensational mashed potato recipe? Does Uncle Herman love to make cranberry sauce from scratch?

Ask your faraway family members to share their favorite recipes, then use a site like Zazzle to make a mini family Thanksgiving cookbook. That way you can all make the same recipes and participate in a family meal together ... even while apart!

Send Thanksgiving Cookie Turkey kits as a Long-distance Thanksgiving idea.
Claudia Cash

Exchange Gratitude Letters

There is nothing like receiving a hand-written note in the mail, and this is one way to make your family feel special across the miles.

Draw names in your family, and have each person write a gratitude card to the person they drew. Or surprise your family and write little cards to each person!

Have a Picture Scavenger Hunt

Send a list of items that can be found around the house to your family members then, when they find the items, have them take a picture and send it to a group family text! Or FaceTime while doing the scavenger hunt and see who can find everything the fastest. For example, take a picture of:

  • Being wrapped up in a cozy blanket
  • Playing in leaves
  • Smiling with a pumpkin
  • Peeking out from behind a tree
  • Enjoying a slice of pie
  • Sipping on a fall drink
  • A list of five things you’re grateful for
  • Carving the turkey
Craft supplies and cookie dough in a cardboard box for Long-distance Thanksgiving ideas.
Claudia Cash

Send Your Family a Thanksgiving Turkey Cookie Kit

Send your family a box with cut out leaves from construction paper, some homemade cookies, a Sharpie, some tape, and googly eyes. Have them assemble the cookie turkeys when they get the package and write what they’re grateful for on the leaves.

Then share what everyone wrote on Thanksgiving!

Send Thanksgiving Table Decor to Your Loved Ones

My mom absolutely adores Thanksgiving, so I always try to get her something new to decorate her house with. I found this darling table runner and plan to get us each one so we can have a piece of each other on Thanksgiving Day!

Create a Thanksgiving Playlist

Gather favorite songs from family members and put them all on a playlist. You can either listen to it during Thanksgiving dinner or have a dance party while FaceTiming your family! If you need some ideas to get started, this is what I’ll be playing!

Decorating a pumpkin pie with leaves cut out of pie dough for Thanksgving family ideas.
Claudia Cash

Have a Pie Decorating Contest

Everyone could bake the same pie and decorate it in different ways, or you could let people really go wild and have them decorate a pie in any way they want. Then have a family vote on who had the best pie decoration!

If you come from a competitive family, assign some family members to be judges, and have specific categories on how the pie needs to be decorated. Share your pies virtually via text, email, or video!

Try a New Recipe Together

Pick a recipe beforehand that you’d all like to try (Looking for some inspiration? We have a fabulous list of Thanksgiving recipes here!), then make the same recipe.

However you connect with your family this Thanksgiving, I hope it’s a day filled with love, hope, laughter, and good food. Cheers to the many blessings we all have!