Choose your best recipes and start a new tradition with friends and family.

By Caroline Biggs
October 23, 2020
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Thanksgiving is almost here, but with social distancing and quarantine regulations to adhere to, dinner might look a quite different this year. "As we navigate an unprecedented environment where in-person celebrations are seldom and physically being with our loved ones is rare, the best way to preserve our Thanksgiving traditions is to pivot to a virtual celebration," professional event planner Lisa Cokinos of LC Events says.

photographing a turkey dinner
Credit: alvarez / Getty Images

And since few things evoke the Thanksgiving spirit like a home-cooked turkey, Cokinos suggests coordinating an online turkey bake with loved ones this holiday. "A virtual turkey bake enables family and friends to 'gather' safely in a time when we actually cannot," she explains. "Instead of hovering around the kitchen island, you can broadcast your preparation and cooking process, and seek input from loved ones while videoconferencing. And since you are not gathering in person and cooking for many guests, the size of your turkey can be a lot smaller, requiring less cook time, allowing more time enjoying family and friends' virtual company when preparing it."

Interested in hearing about how you can host your very own virtual turkey bake this Thanksgiving? We asked Cokinos to share her advice, and this is what she had to say.

Pick an easy-to-follow recipe.

Cokinos says the best way to pull-off a successful turkey bake this Thanksgiving is to have a goofproof plan in place for family and friends to follow. "Whether you plan to roast, deep fry, grill, or even slow cook a turkey, choose a recipe that will be easy for all your online guests to follow," she explains. "We suggest sticking to a classic recipe, that is simple and yields delicious results. All guests should feel comfortable to navigate the recipe without too much assistance when on the call."

Send detailed invitations.

Once you've selected a recipe, Cokinos says the next step is to send out invitations. "The invitation should include the date and time, log in and password for the streaming platform, chosen recipe with estimated prep time for each step and firm cook time, where to place the racks in your oven and best cookware to use, as well as the list of ingredients and where to find those ingredients at the grocery store," she says. "The recipe should be written out as clearly as possible for participants to be able to easily follow. As an added bonus, you could even include links to videos for them to view if they need a refresher."

Send a personalized gift before you bake.

To make your virtual turkey bake feel intimate despite the fact that you aren't actually in the same place, Cokinos recommends sending all of your guests a personalized gift prior to the event. "A week in advance, send each family member or friend that's participating a personalized apron for the event to memorialize your experience during this unprecedented time." she says. "Everyone can wear their apron on the call for added humor and intimacy while you cook!"

Schedule a follow-up video call for dinner.

To avoid virtual fatigue, Cokinos suggests setting up an online call later in the evening (or the next day) with guests so that everyone can enjoy the meal together. "Traditionally a turkey takes about three to four hours to cook (size dependent plus resting time)," she says. "Set up a follow up call with your participants to enjoy the fruits of your collective labor, so you will have enough time to prepare your sides, look your best, and enjoy the meal together!"

Play a virtual party game.

Since the celebration is a lot smaller than usual, Cokinos says cook time may be less than when you gather in real life. "If having two calls seems like a lot, playing some virtual games will certainly pass the time until the food is ready," she says. "A popular online platform that can be accessed via PlayStation, Xbox, PC or even the phone is Jackbox Games. They have an assortment of games that can be played for groups up to ten people."

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