Thanksgiving in the New Normal – The Family Dinner Project

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If last holiday season taught us anything, it’s that we can’t take traditions for granted. Many — at least 2/3 — of families celebrated Thanksgiving 2020 differently from their usual plans. Overall, gatherings were smaller, and some of the connections were made online rather than in person. Family members learned to make the dishes that would usually be brought by others, or did without. And there were a lot of emotions swirling around the holiday, too; families who had experienced great loss dealt with grief and loneliness, while others may have felt a renewed sense of gratitude and meaning.

This Thanksgiving, we can look forward to a “new normal” of sorts. While things may not have gone entirely back to the way they were before COVID became a household name, two-thirds of Americans are hoping for a more typical holiday than last year. Still, a recent survey by Jennie-O Turkey suggests that some 2020 practices might be here to stay for at least one more Thanksgiving. Here’s what’s on the list for this year:

  • Virtual Gatherings. 57% of Americans plan to include some virtual celebrations in their Thanksgiving plans for this year. While some of that planning may be driven by caution, it’s also possible that having tried online holidays in 2020, families found virtual celebrations a satisfying way to share the day with loved ones in distant locations. Either way, we’ve got both a Virtual Dinner Party Guide and a Virtual Thanksgiving Care Package you can use to make your online festivities extra-special!
  • New Menu Items. A number of people picked up new cooking skills and habits during the pandemic. This year, 87% of them are eager to put their skills to the test with a special holiday dish. Last year’s shake-up of traditions may also spark more creativity this year. Cooking instructor Christine Wansleben and her kids totally reinvented Thanksgiving last year, with a day of take-out and homemade desserts in their pajamas. How many other families might be inspired to try something new?
  • Multiple Celebrations. More than 50% of people surveyed mentioned plans to join two or more Thanksgiving dinners — including the increasingly popular “Friendsgiving.” If you need ideas for new dishes to share at all those dinners, or advice for storing the many possible leftovers, check out these recipes and storage tips from our friends at Good Cook! 
  • Friendly Competitions. Almost half of Americans are planning to hold a competition of some sort at their Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re one of them, you might try our Iron Chef for Families, Blindfolded Smell Test, Cookie Face Race, Photo Caption Contest or the virtual Cook Along Challenge!
  • Safety Considerations. For some families, there are still questions about how to structure their gatherings with the safety of all their guests in mind. If you’re wondering how to approach questions about health and safety with your family this year, our advice might help.

Whether you’re gathering in person with a big group of friends and family, or staying close to home and reaching out virtually, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with food, fun, and conversation about things that matter. Be sure to check out our Thanksgiving landing page for our full collection of ideas for the “mother of all family dinners!”

Food

Image Credit: GoodCook

Whether as a unique holiday side dish, meatless family dinner or substantial Thanksgiving option for vegetarian guests, this risotto from GoodCook is a versatile one-pot wonder!

Mushroom and Pumpkin Risotto

Fun

The Gratefulness Grab Bag is a sweet way to share what you’re thankful for!

Gratefulness Grab Bag

Conversation

Help the conversation flow with these printable cut-apart questions — perfect for making conversation jars you can add to your holiday table.

Printable Conversation Starters



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