Socially-Distant Thanksgiving 2020: Creative Ways to Enjoy the Holiday

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Let’s face it – getting a big group of best friends together for an annual Friendsgiving gathering is out of the cards this year {in fact, you could be fined in Hoboken for parties over 25.} The holidays might feel a bit strange and {socially} distant in 2020. That doesn’t mean the spirit of the season should dull. In case you haven’t heard, small get-togethers are IN {or virtual ones at that}. Read on for various creative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that are COVID-friendly, creative, and caring. The beautiful thing about all of these is that even if they can’t be done on turkey day, they can be done on the next nice fall weather day.

Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment/informational purposes only. Please follow all state-mandated guidelines about gatherings. Click here for more info.

Host an Outdoor Fall Photo Shoot / Photo Hike

fall foliage

Take advantage of foliage and the self-timer setting on your iPhone and host a fall-friendly photoshoot. Taking photos of your friends + family is easy to do while distanced, and so is taking cute photos together.

Think about going with a color scheme, coordinated outfits, or any props you might want to include. Select a few locations to stop throughout the day to keep your party moving. Not to worry, we’ve already compiled The Best New Jersey Spots for Festive Fall Foliage. Want to leave the shooting to professionals? Scroll through our updated list of Hoboken, Jersey City + NYC photographers, and pool in to hire someone for the afternoon.

Thanksgiving Taste Testing — Delivery Style

o-bagel hoboken

{Photo credit: @obagel_family}

Since scooping from the same bowl of mashed potatoes as fellow Thanksgiving-goers isn’t an option, host a virtual or socially-distant get together where you all taste test variations of a popular Thanksgiving or fall dish —  be it something you each make individually, or collectively pick dishes to make and have them delivered to each house {should you be local}. Create a pre-set list of local items that each participant should pick up, pick a date, and eat away. If you’re feeling extra creative, put together a scorecard or scoring system to gamify your taste testing.

If you’re thinking pie is the move for your crew, may we suggest reading our article on the 7 Best Places to Eat Pie in Hudson County? If a soup taste test is more your crowd’s style, don’t fret. There’s a Hoboken Girl Insiders Facebook Group thread for that.

Friendsgiving Picnic or Tailgate

the belle of the boards

{Photo credit: @belleoftheboards}

If the weather cooperates enough to take Thanksgiving celebrations outdoors, consider planning a good old fashioned socially-distant tailgate-style gathering outdoors. The premise: bundle up and have everyone bring a dish, pulling up their cars and opening the trunk up so each can be a place to grab your food and move about safely. If you want to go all out with the decor for the event, consider reaching out to SlumberBee TeePee to make custom teepees for your next one.

Read More: Where to Find Thanksgiving Pies in Hoboken, Jersey City, + Bayonne

Send a Festive Floral Arrangement

Bouquets and Baskets

{Photo credit: @bouquetsandbaskets}

Since many of us are spending so much more time at home than usual, if not seeing your family in-person this year, chances are they will likely see {and thus, enjoy} a beautiful, seasonal arrangement even more than usual, too. Don’t forget to include a thoughtful note letting your friend know you’re grateful for them. ‘Tis the season!

Consider picking up and dropping off a fresh bouquet from Touch the Heart in Hoboken or Bouquets and Baskets in Jersey City, or sending everlasting paper flowers from Hoboken-based artist Jen Kim on Etsy

Holiday Special Watch Party  

friendsgiving watch party

If you’re looking to go really low key for Thanksgiving this year, that’s okay too. The holiday season is usually stressful, but especially stressful with COVID-19 layered into the mix. If you’re looking for a virtual, low commitment way to celebrate this year, this concept is for you. 

Whether your Thanksgiving virtual gathering consists of college football fanatics love watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every year, are suckers for a good, cheesy Lifetime holiday movie, or would prefer to re-watch one of the many fantastic Thanksgiving episodes of Friends, pick a seasonally-centric show or special to tune in to at the same time and enjoy together.

Whether you opt to Zoom simultaneously, FaceTime periodically, or text throughout, bonding over good entertainment is a fun, easy way to spend time with friends without the stress of planning an event. If you do want to up the ante, invite all your friends to contribute an item to a “watch party package” that one or two friends organize. Package recommendations including a mix of salty, sweet, boozy, and themed along with whatever you’re watching.

Enjoy a Virtual Cooking Class 

butter loves company

{Photo credit: @butterlovescompany}

Pick a Thanksgiving-themed recipe {ideally one with a corresponding YouTube video to watch together}, send said recipe and ingredient list to friends, coordinate a time, send a Zoom invite, and BAM! You’ve got a virtual, Friendsgiving-style cooking class. Pro tip: transform this cooking class into a cocktail making class for a boozy twist. 

To keep it local with this idea, consider picking up ingredients from a local farmer’s market a few days or hours in advance and following a recipe from a local recipe developer like Hoboken-based foodies @butterlovescompany and @_littlemissfoodie or Jersey City-based chef @gabymelian

Plan Your Own Turkey Trot

jersey city runners 

{Photo Credit: @jerseycityrunners}

Plan a Thanksgiving race! This is a great option for groups hoping to see each other and share their thanks for their loved ones IRL. Not sure the best route to follow? Refer to our recent article on Hoboken and Jersey City running groups to join and find out where savvy local runners are running.

Pro tip: plan to finish the trot somewhere you can grab a celebratory, outdoor beer and snack OR pack post-race beverages and snacks in someone’s car in advance. 

Virtual Black Friday Shopping

black friday shopping 

Thanksgiving does not need to be celebrated on Thanksgiving. Set up a Zoom meeting for you and your friends to hit the online Black Friday sales — and focus on shopping small. Use the “present my screen” function to show your friend what sweet deal you’re planning to take advantage of and get their very important opinions in real-time.

Make sure to check out Black Friday deals from local shops with online stores and/or Instagram shopping like Kanibal in Jersey City and Washington General Store in Hoboken. Our full list is released Friday AM!

See More: Thanksgiving Catering in Hoboken + Jersey City

“Grateful For You” Gift Swap

gift swap

Secret gift exchanges don’t need to be limited to December during the holiday season. Set up a swap between all your besties and set mutually agreed-upon parameters for gift budget and exchange date. To make the gifting extra special, consider making handmade gifts or choosing gifts that share why you are particularly grateful for the person you were assigned. 

No matter how you celebrate your socially-distanced Thanksgiving this year, make sure it’s a safe and special one!

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Nicole Gittleman is a born and bred Jersey girl who grew up in Bergen County but has called Jersey City home for nearly 5 years. Nicole works in content marketing at a JC-based creative studio and loves creating her own JC #content on her Instagram (follow her @nicoleraye_). Outside of her 9-5, Nicole loves to travel, cook, plan events for her friends and family, support small businesses, and cheer on her teams (go Devils and Giants!).