For the first time, many families are not traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday but choosing instead to stay home due to COVID. Traditions may not even be the same as families celebrate apart. In some cases, family members with us last year are sadly no longer with us, so this is the time to hold our family close and treasure the time together.  So in the spirit of gratitude amidst COVID and a global pandemic, send your families these 6 ideas to make a stay-at-home holiday fun for Thanksgiving. 


Thanksgiving and COVID:

6 Ways To Make A Stay-At-Home Holiday Fun

The year is almost over.

The year 2020 has certainly not turned out as we expected. Things have continued to be ever-changing, which is why this just might be the year to give your holidays a changeup, as well. With only a few weeks left in the year and many of the remaining weeks are holidays–a time of celebration, joy, and family- we can take the opportunity to make sure Thanksgiving is a special, God-centered, family-focused holiday. In the midst of all that is happening, we still have many reasons to be thankful so consider these 6 ideas to make your stay-at-home holiday fun.

 1. The Supermarket Sweep

The classic game show The Supermarket Sweep, centered around family members and friends doing some wild and fun grocery shopping, is back on TV. Heading into the holidays, mom, dad, or grandma usually go to the store all by themselves. This year, host your own crazy game show moment, and don’t let it be a one-person show!

Turn holiday grocery shopping into a family-fun, food frenzy. Come up with a menu together, allowing each person to suggest a favorite dish or two. Pull out the recipes, make a shopping list of everything needed, divide up the list, assign teams, and head out to the store together. Make this year’s Thanksgiving shopping trip a family supermarket sweep!

2. Kickin’ it IN the Kitchen

You might have experienced that moment when mom or grandma kicks you out of the kitchen so they can get the big feast ready. Turn that memory around by having everyone kicking it IN the kitchen together. No matter how big or small the family (or the kitchen!), include everyone in the meal prep.

Allow family members to take responsibility for making their favorite dish they suggested (from above). The youngest members of the family can be part of the prep, too. Remember that Thanksgiving is not about perfection but instead should center on participation.

3. Dress to Impress

Once the meal is in the oven, and the timers are set, send everyone off to get ready to impress. The year 2020 included lots of staying at home which allowed everyone to dress down for work, school, and even church. Make this Thanksgiving a formal event by putting on your dressiest clothes, so dig out the suit or dress that has been collecting dust for the last year, and put it on. It is time to celebrate!

Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and maybe put on a little bit of make-up. Gentlemen can surprise the ladies of the house with a polite knock on their door, armed with some flowers from the shopping trip. Escort the ladies down the hall to the table, and pull out their chair.

Moms and dads could use this meal as a fun moment to teach some of the basics of formal table etiquette! Encourage napkins on the lap, no elbows on the table, and which fork do we use for the cranberry sauce again? Please pass the gravy boat…why thank you!

4. No Kids’ Table

Put away that card table or move it to the end of the big table. Put away the plastic forks and paper plates, and bring out the fine china, best silver, and the fancy glasses. This is the year to do away with the kids’ table: one family, one table, and one new way to connect all in the same room.

Make this year a “grown-up” time to talk, share, and give thanks. Squeeze everyone in or make room for more. This at-home holiday season is a full-on family face-to-face food fellowship!

5. Game On and Off

Thanksgiving is almost as much about football as it is about the food for some families. This year can be a real game-changer in a few ways. First, turn the TV/devices off during the whole meal. Whether it is football, Fortnite, or Facebook, be fully present this year for the meal.

The second way might be a big challenge for dad, grandpa, and uncle Earl. If the game comes on, the whole family needs to be part of the fun. No more part of the family in one room, watching the game while the rest of the family is elsewhere in the house. Watch the game together and bring what everyone else is doing into the room, too. Include crafts, board games, and other fun, making it a full family blitz of connection!

6. Stop the Shop

Now for the big one–the grand finale of an at-home for the holidays’ Thanksgiving. Hold onto your wallets! As you come to the end of your day, stop the shop on Thanksgiving Day. Slowly put down the Pre-Black Friday ads and back away from the credit cards. This year, let’s make Thanksgiving off-limits for shopping. You can shop till your bank account drops the next day.

There has been enough early sales and discounts for the rest of the holiday season, so make it a stay at home holiday! Let your family and children know time with them is more important than any temporary thing you could buy.

This year has been like no other one we have experienced in our lifetime. Hopefully, if this year has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that family is special, and we have so many reasons to be thankful. Don’t miss this unique once in a lifetime Thanksgiving. Use these 6 ideas to make a stay-at-home holiday fun! Take pictures and make memories, and do not miss the opportunity to be at home for the holidays!

Dan Istvanik has been working in youth ministry for 25 years, serving in churches in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Washington DC.  He is a speaker, ministry coach, writer, and contributor to other ministry resources. You can contact Dan at, where he shares student ministry resources.

M2P Members, grab your Thanksgiving resource in Toolbox: Holidays.

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For more family resources around COVID, check out:

How to Talk to Your Kids about Fears & the Coronavirus

10 Facts About Adolescence (How to Help Parents Survive the At-Home Quarantine)

How To Help Your Families Deal With Anxiety