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How to Count Your Blessings Together Online This Year


You can still enjoy turkey and all the fixings while protecting your friends and loved ones from the COVID-19 surge by moving your extended gatherings online this year.

“We recognize how much people anticipate and enjoy coming together at Thanksgiving,” said Gina Carnduff, system director of infection prevention for Memorial Health System. “Unfortunately, gathering together this year has to be approached with an unrelenting focus on safety. That means limiting contact to only those in your immediate household.”

For those who have never hosted a virtual event before, how exactly does it work? Here are links to easy “How-To” tutorials for the major platforms that will enable you to host your virtual gatherings with family and friends.

Host a Virtual Gathering: Apple FaceTime, Facebook Group, Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Hangouts and Zoom Meeting (Zoom will allow for free video calls and no time limit on Thanksgiving.)

It’s a good idea to assign a tech-savvy family member to be the host/emcee. This person can collect emails, send the invites and help troubleshoot for family members who might need support. Having them set a timetable and schedule can help keep the conversations flowing smoothly.

Wondering which activities might lend themselves to an online version? Consider these ideas:

Thanksgiving dinner: If you are close enough to porch-deliver (contact-free) your favorite dishes, assign a distribution time and then join back together onscreen while you eat dinner. Even if you can’t deliver an actual dish, you still can “share” by asking each group to prepare the same recipe. Another fun idea is to “show and tell” – have each family make something special to show off and discuss.

But remember to use your mute button when people are actually eating – or discussing politics!

Coffee and dessert: If dinner seems daunting, arrange for a time after the main meal when everyone can cozy up for coffee, dessert and conversation. Consider breakout rooms for the rowdy cousins to connect!

Count your blessings: Invite younger guests to draw a picture of what they are thankful for and share online for the group to enjoy. Ask the more senior guests to share memories of their most unusual Thanksgiving celebrations.

Attend Memorial’s Festival of Trees, virtually! View and vote on the decorated trees and wreaths on Facebook. Or have the kids download a Festival coloring book or “Flat Santa.” You can find other fun activities here.

“The bottom line is we want all of our families to return to Thanksgiving tables next year intact, not with empty places at the table,” Carnduff said.

You can also help stop the spread of COVID-19 by downloading a COVID-19 recommendations handout to share with family, friends, community members, employees and others. Following the handout recommendations can help slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay up to date on COVID-19 information at