This Thanksgiving will look nothing like the ones most of us have celebrated in the past. Instead of tons of friends and family gathering together for a big dinner, we’ll be keeping things close to home and celebrating mainly with immediate family members. Even though many of our favorite traditions have been put on hold, there are still ways to get the kids excited about Thanksgiving and to have some great, memorable moments that will make the holiday feel special despite the unusual circumstances.


Here are a few things you can do to make it feel like Turkey Day is anything but canceled!

Go big on decorations. In the past, we’ve never done much in the way of Thanksgiving decorations but this year we went all out, putting up colorful fall leaves on the wall, hanging a banner and a turkey on the door. We even got a small pumpkin-shaped chalkboard and my son decided to make a countdown to T-day, which he excitedly updates each morning. These inexpensive items helped create a happy vibe in our home.

Practice gratitude. This year, my twins did a paper turkey craft, writing things they are thankful for on each of the feathers. You can also make a gratitude tree and write what you’re grateful for on each of the leaves. With so many negative memes about 2020, it’s nice to remember there is actually a lot to still be thankful for. PBS’s website has some great activities focused on gratitude. 

Get out and volunteer. One way to remember how good you have it is to go help those less fortunate. Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities will definitely look different this year, but helpers are still needed. Even if you don’t do an organized activity, see if there is someone you can drop food off for from a safe distance. You’ll brighten their day and yours too!

My kids gather leaves for Thanksgiving decorations. / RONNIE KOENIG

Go traditional with your feast. When it comes to the Thanksgiving menu, this is the year to go all-out with the traditional favorites. This year, we’re adding Padma Lakshmi’s mac n’ cheese to the menu. In years past I would have said we had enough sides without it but now is the time to go ahead and be decadent and take comfort in those foods that bring you warm feelings and good memories. If you have extra cash since you won’t be hosting many guests, why not splurge on the good wine or champagne instead of the cheap stuff?

Get moving. While there may not be a game of touch football in the backyard this year you can still get outside with the kids (and by yourself!) for a walk and/or run. Simply moving your body will get the feel-good endorphins flowing and getting outside, no matter what the weather is like can have a positive impact on your mood.

Call friends and relatives. Though you may be Zoomed out from all of the constant meetings, set aside a little time on Thanksgiving to call a friend or relative that may be on their own that day or that you would have seen in person in years past. Staying connected with the people that matter most to you is what the day is really about, even if you can’t do it in person.