4 Ways to Safely Celebrate Thanksgiving with Older Loved Ones

This Thanksgiving will be different. Are you wondering how to celebrate the holiday and make it special, yet struggling with how to keep it safe too? I wanted to share with you some ideas that I may be using this Thanksgiving!


1. Deliver a Thanksgiving meal with a note of gratitude.

If you can’t have Thanksgiving together, then bring it to your parents/grandparents. Make a meal or buy it. In order not to do it “pizza-delivery-man” style, tuck in a note with the meal that tells your parents/grandparents that you appreciate them.

Need help with that note? Here’s a prompt: “Dear (my favorite grandma), This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that I have someone in my life like you that _____(gush about how much you appreciate them here__).”  

Live faraway & can’t fly home? Enlist the help of a service like Hank, which helps family arrange food delivery and other tasks for older loved ones. I have not tried Hank before, but I think it’s worth trying particularly if you care from a distance. They partner with trusted providers such as DoorDash and Instacart in all 50 states. It’s really neat because they also have a bill splitting feature, if the rest of the family is willing to split the cost. I may try and write another post about them, but I want you to know that because it’s National Family Caregiver’s Month, Hank is offering a FREE 1-year subscription to anyone who signs up this November.

2. Ask for Thanksgiving Cooking Tutorial.

Instead of grieving over what can’t happen this Thanksgiving, why not spend the weeks enjoying some fun time cooking together. Is there a recipe that your loved one churns out at the holiday time that is their specialty? This year is the perfect time to ask if you can learn how to make it on your own. 

Remember that great bakers and cooks are more likely to share their secret recipes with their own family! To double the fun, see if they want to make the recipe while you try it out for the first time. Let it be a tutorial (and if you have video chat, that’s even better for you.) 

Here are some questions to jumpstart this VIP cooking tutorial with your loved one:

  • What ingredients do I need? Does the brand of the ingredient matter?
  • Are there any tips I need to know before making this? (Typically, there always are!)
  • Is this what it should look like? 
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What is the final product supposed to look like? 
  • How would you rate my version of your recipe? (Prepare yourself for the truth!)
If it turns out to be a fail, you’ll be in for a good laugh together. If you succeed, however, in recreating your parent/grandparents’ recipe, then I’m certain your loved one will be beaming knowing that they have passed on a tasty legacy that will be remembered and savored for generations. 

3. Tweak the Classic Thanksgiving.

  • If you and you entire family are really itching to have Thanksgiving physically together, then tweak it so you can have it outdoors. Try these tips:
  • Bundle up with blankets and warm clothes,  so everyone will stay as warm as possible (Consider gifting a fleece to each family to get them excited and prepared for the outdoor feast).
  • Change Thanksgiving dinner to lunchtime so that you can take advantage of the sun. 
  • Host Thanksgiving in screened in porch/garage so that there’s tons of ventilation. 
  • Make it the very first “campfire-Thanksgiving” or invest in some outdoor heaters for more comfort. 
  • Limit dinner to 60 minutes or less, before people freeze and get grumpy!
Tack on idea #4 to include family that lives out of out-of-town and so that you can allow for more conversation… consider it a virtual after party!

4. Enjoy rich conversation virtually.

If you live where it’s super cold or if your parents/grandparents are long distance, then schedule a time on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate virtually. It doesn’t have to be a 2 hour Zoom session (because we’re all Zoomed out aren’t we?). Maybe a 30-minute Thanksgiving celebration would work. Then, mail each family member a list of question (on pretty paper even) and when you get together, be prepared for some fun memories and stories, especially from the older members of your family. 

Here’s a list of questions to foster some great intergenerational conversation:  

  • What are you grateful for this year? 
  • What was one of your favorite Thanksgiving memories?
  • How did you celebrate Thanksgiving when you were a child? 
  • How did you celebrate Thanksgiving when you lived __(fill-in the blank)?    
  • What is your all-time favorite Thanksgiving dish?
  • And… do you even like turkey?
If you have kids, have them take notes. Either way, be sure to RECORD this conversation. Trust me- you’ll treasure it and be able to share it with your children, and their children…and so on!

Check out The Value of Wrinkles for more ideas on how to love the older person in your life.  

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