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Tips for a Fun & Meaningful Virtual Thanksgiving

Many people are carving out plans for virtual holiday gatherings this year to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

There are a cornucopia of helpful tips for managing an online holiday, from watching sports or cooking together “virtually,” to sharing recipes in advance in case some family members will be cooking the traditional dishes on their own for the first time!

And of course, perhaps the best logistical tip of all, don't forget to mute when you're not speaking, especially if you're hosting a large online gathering with clanging pots and pans.

We've come across many excellent articles with good hosting tips, and saw the generous news from Zoom that they're lifting their 40 minute meeting limit for the holiday.

What we hadn't found, was a holiday guide with tips for sparking conversation, for forging meaningful connections, for deepening our understanding of one another.

What if this year, we all took steps to bring people closer together, even if we did it remotely?

Fun & Meaningful Conversation Starters

Invite everyone to join in a conversation where you each take a turn giving a heartfelt answer to a “fill-in-the-blank” prompt. At the end of your turn, “call on” the person of your choice to answer next. A few ideas for meaningful prompts, include:

  • I'm secretly curious about_________.
  • A time when I made a powerful choice was_________.
  • It was a miracle when_________.
  • I feed my creativity by_________.
  • A time I've noticed compassion is _________.
  • I feel really alive when _________.
  • What my heart wants to hear right now is _________.
  • I changed my opinion about _________. My perspective changed because _________.
  • In the past year, I've seen growth in _________.
  • Something I'm feeling optimistic about is _________.

For more questions similar to this, check out a Cards for Connection deck. Learn more here:

Playful Questions for the Young Ones

Younger family members give amazing answers to meaningful questions–they can definitely be included. But if the sounds of children laughing is what you all need this holiday, it can be fun to ask them questions such as these:

  • What do you think your parents talk about when you're not around?
  • What are your plans if you don't grow any taller?
  • Regrets so far?
  • Would you rather be friends with a monkey or a robot?
  • What animal would you ride into battle?
  • If you could choose one food that no one would ever make you eat again, what would it be?

Get Everyone Involved

Let everyone know in advance that you have some ideas to get the conversation rolling during your virtual holiday.

Get a couple co-conspirators to help you get beyond small talk (and grievances!). Talk to your co-conspirators in advance about the depth of connection you're seeking to foster and tell them you'll be calling on them first because you know they'll really bring the goods.

Think Your Crew Needs a “Warm-Up” Before “Getting Meaningful?”

If you're not sure your family is ready to jump into the deep-end, save the “meaningful” questions for the next family gathering and warm them up with a few light topics for this go-around, such as:

  • What's your favorite magical or mythological creature? When did you first discover it?
  • Tell us about the first book that ever made you cry.
  • What are two things you’re very good at?
  • As a kid, did you ever do something wrong that you pinned on a sibling?
  • What did you get into the most trouble for with your parents as a kid?
  • How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?
  • What show on Netflix did you binge watch embarrassingly fast?
  • What's your spirit animal?

Saying Goodbye

Instead of having everyone wave and blow kisses simultaneously at the end of your gathering, go around and allow each person to take a moment to express their love and goodbyes one-by-one. It doesn't have to be high-pressure “perfect last words.”

Simply say something like, “Let's go around and each say goodbye. I'll go first.” And then you show them how it's done!

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