5 ways to celebrate a physically distanced Thanksgiving

A fall-themed pumpkin display (Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina, Pexels)

A fall-themed pumpkin display (Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina, Pexels)

October 8, 2020 | by Wendy Ho

The global pandemic has undoubtedly changed the ways we go about our everyday activities, especially how to interact with family and friends. These unusual times call for creative tweaks to how we celebrate the special days, like Thanksgiving. While many people traditionally gather indoors to spend time together and share a meal, provincial health guidelines might make that tricky this year.

For me, I plan on exploring a trail bright and early with my kids to avoid crowds, and to try my hand at roasting a turkey or a Cornish hen (will be sending generous portions to family if I opt for the former). 

Here are a few ideas to help spice up your holiday weekend while putting health and well-being at the forefront:

1) A virtual Thanksgiving dinner with trivia

Meal prep might have just gotten a lot simpler this year if you’re the host with fewer mouths to feed. While sharing a meal virtually isn’t the same as you and your loved ones gathered around the table, you can still show generosity by dropping off your home cooking at participants’ doorsteps or order their favourite meal to be delivered. Looking for post-dinner entertainment? There are many free online group games, like Skribbl (essentially digital Pictionary) or good old Scrabble. How about hosting a nature-themed trivia game (using Kahoot!) by browsing through the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) featured species profiles to grab a few fun facts!

More ideas on how to bring nature home:

2) Have a scavenger hunt

Printout of NCC's nature bingo, with scribbles from my toddler. (Photo by Wendy Ho/NCC staff)

Printout of NCC's nature bingo, with scribbles from my toddler. (Photo by Wendy Ho/NCC staff)

Soak in the season’s splendid views in your nearby green spaces. With your immediate household, bring out your inner child and try these nature bingo cards. Just remember to leave your findings untouched and to not disturb habitats. Even a pile of leaves can be a shelter for a host of critters and insects. 





3) Go for a hike at a Nature Destination

Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Take a journey through some of the greatest examples of our country’s natural areas and connect with nature. Be it the aspen parkland habitats of Alberta’s Bunchberry Meadows or the Acadian forest of Nova Scotia’s Abraham Lake Nature Reserve, a walk in nature is good for the mind and body, and a way to work off some of those Thanksgiving dinner calories. Most of NCC’s properties are open to the public. Be sure to respect physical distancing when visiting, and check for site-specific updates before heading out.

4) Send a gift to show your thoughts

Thanksgiving e-card (Photo by NCC)

Thanksgiving e-card (Photo by NCC)

I love sending a handwritten note via snail mail. But sending an e-card is a good alternative too, especially if it’s supporting Canadian endangered or threatened species. NCC offers greeting cards with stunning photography of Canadian wildlife, with a message you can personalize and send for a future date. This is great especially if you’re like me and don’t usually have postage stamps handy.

5) Prep your garden for the next harvest

Traditionally, part of Thanksgiving has been about celebrating a bountiful fall harvest. Whether you’ve been gardening through the pandemic or not, fall is a great time to do some yard work. Depending on your local climate, it’s even possible to grow vegetables throughout winter. Check out this guide for 10 ways to get your garden ready for winter. For me, I have a few packets of native plant seeds I need to sow, as they need to be cold stratified through our winter for spring-up next year.


6) Take time to give thanks, and watch a nature documentary

Film roll (Photo by Pietro Jeng, Pexels)

Film roll (Photo by Pietro Jeng, Pexels)

Finally, take a moment to give thanks for the natural spaces that surround us. My family has played a big part in shaping my interest in nature. Should weather be unfavourable for outdoor activities, why not cozy up to watch a documentary series (check out some of Striking Balance's episodes where NCC properties were featured) or tune in to a podcast about conservation.

Wendy Ho (Photo by NCC)

About the Author

Wendy Ho is Nature Conservancy of Canada's digital content manager.

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