; Skip to Content

7 Ways To Make Thanksgiving Memorable (And Safe) This Year

Thanksgiving is shaping up to be memorable, no doubt about it. We’re faced with a choice of being disappointed about current circumstances or making an effort to choose our mindset, and this year, I’m determined to make this a happy (albeit weird) Thanksgiving. I’m dreaming up unique ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that are both socially distant and fun. And, of course, food will be involved. Read on for my ideas, plus time-saving meal suggestions that will leave you more time to make memories.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hy-Vee. This post contains affiliate links. All thoughts, opinions, and typos are my own.

Easy Thanksgiving Meal Packs

To meet as a family or not this year? We’ve been discussing this with both sides of our family and it looks like it will just be me, my husband, and the kiddos gathering around the dinner table. Even when it’s just us four, we can make the dinner memorable.

We may even spend the day cooking and baking together.


We may find someone to do the cooking for us. (Scroll to the end of the post for my ideas). If I want to cut down on cooking time, pre-ordering a Thanksgiving dinner would be a good option for my family.

Hy-Vee Holiday Meal Pack
Photo courtesy Hy-Vee

Hy-Vee has Holiday Meal Packs for 2, 4, 6 or more people, ranging from the traditional turkey dinner to prime rib dinners or brunch. I could feed the four of us with a ham or turkey dinner, sides, rolls, gravy, and a dessert for just under $50. 

The meal packs come with reheating instructions. Or you know, if you’re like me and a terrible baker, you could add to the meal packs with a Bakery Bundle or a Gourmet option (they have gourmet Cheesecake Factory cheesecakes!).

Beyond the main course, you can order appetizers and desserts. For appetizers, there are fruit & veggie trays, and cheese & charcuterie boards. For desserts, there are dessert trays and pies. Of course, there’s pumpkin pie, as well as pecan, apple, French silk, and more. They are available in 6-inch or 10-inch servings.

Tip: If you are going to be cooking the dinner on your own, save some money! Hy-Vee is offering a Buy a ham, Get a turkey deal through Nov. 30. You get a free 10- to 14-pound frozen turkey with the purchase of a Hormel Cure 81 whole boneless ham.

Order the Thanksgiving meal ahead of time

This goes without saying: It’s smart to order your meal well in advance and make a game day plan. For instance, Hy-Vee is going to have your Meal Pack refrigerated, so you’ll need to allow time to prep it (don’t worry, they include instructions for that).

Screenshot of the Hy-Vee Aisles Online app

It’s pretty easy to order online through Hy-Vee, and you can customize the meal by selecting the sides your family would love best.

Tip: They have an app for that. Hy-Vee has the Aisles Online App, so you can shop from anywhere. You can order the Holiday Meal Packs through the app, as well as download digital coupons, see what’s on sale, and rack up Fuel Saver rewards to save money on gas. Save 10% on your first Aisles Online order with the promo code WELCOME.

7 ways to have a safe Thanksgiving

Health experts have been advising that large family gatherings for Thanksgiving is not a good idea. I have a large extended family, and I’m pushing for us to skip this year’s gathering so that we can all gather together next year. What can we do in place of the big family meal? Here are some of my ideas:

My family on one of our group Zoom chats earlier this year.
  1. Make the dinner special with those in your household. First and foremost, celebrate being with the ones who are with you. I hope everyone has at least one other person to spend the day with. You have all day, so cook something grand if you want to cook (or treat yourself to delicious takeout).
  2. Share the food, but eat separately. My parents and all of my siblings live in Omaha (or close enough to be considered Omaha) so I’m trying to work out a way for us to deliver our respective side dishes to each family household. Maybe it’s a one-stop exchange or we drive around to make deliveries. This way, we’d see each other briefly, fully masked, and then eat a huge meal safely in our own homes.
Hy-Vee holiday gift baskets

3. Send sweets to loved ones. I love this idea – sending some treats in the mail. Maybe it’s because I’d love it in return. Local restaurants and pie makers offer this shipping option. 

Hy-Vee does, too. They have party trays, gift baskets and gift cards that can be mailed or delivered to loved ones. 

Kids writing messages in chalk for loved ones.

4. Chalk arts greetings. Early in the spring, we drove around Omaha surprising family with chalk art and greetings. You can do something similar for Thanksgiving! Write a simple message, draw a silly turkey, or come up with your own design.

We told some people we were coming ahead of time, and we surprised others. Since it is a holiday, I’d recommend calling them to make sure they see it before you leave.

5. Online games with family. My in-laws love playing a game after Thanksgiving dinner. So, maybe this year, we devise a way to play a virtual game together over Zoom.

We’ve tried a trivia game over Zoom with one relative and I could see it working with additional players (we did a Harry Potter trivia game but this may be too niche for some family members). We set up the board at our home and the kids got to read the clues to their aunt over Zoom. We’d move her piece around the board as well as our own. 

Other games that would work: Outburst, Pictionary (use Zoom’s whiteboard feature), and Guess Who (two-player game and each person needs one of the boards).

6. Watch a live event…virtually. Omaha has a tradition of kicking off the Holiday Lights Festival with a tree lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night and the following night is always The Durham Museum tree lighting ceremony.

In 2020, there will not be a big Holiday Lights Festival tree lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night but there will be a tree lighting ceremony at the museum and — for a change — it’s on Thanksgiving night. And the best part? It’s all virtual this year!

No crowds and I can wear pajamas to watch the tree lighting? Win-win.

7. Drive around to see light displays. Some people are ready to begin celebrating Christmas as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put in the fridge. If you’re in Omaha and want to start holiday festivities on Thanksgiving night, there are several gorgeous light displays that will already be up on November 26.

You can do a loop driving tour from South Omaha –> Old Market –> Turner Park at Midtown Crossing –> North Omaha to see large displays set up for the Holiday Lights Festival and Season of Lights.

How are you making this Thanksgiving memorable and joyful? Please share your ideas for a socially-distant and safe Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving will look different this year but here are 7 memorable ways to make the best of it while keeping loved ones safe this year.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Nicole McDonald

Saturday 21st of November 2020

We are going to have a smaller feast for my immediate family and do a virtual Thanksgiving with the rest of the family. I'm so glad Zoom lifted the limits for Thanksgiving.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.