Reinvent your dinner parties

JSSPA Extension Information

Thanksgiving may be different in some households this year. The number of guests may be lower because people may not travel a long distance to gather. The menu may be a little different.

Regardless of what Thanksgiving 2020 brings, make it memorable. These ideas could be used for any distant gathering.

Gather in a new way.

If you do not gather a group, consider using technology, such as Zoom, Skype Room or a Facebook Live event if you are so inclined.


Plan your dinner.

Decide on a theme, date and time for the virtual gathering.

If desired, provide easy recipes for a common menu.

  • The large stuffed turkey might be a stuffed chicken this year, or even a Cornish game hen. See for food safety guidance.

  • An easy turkey casserole and pumpkin dessert recipes are featured in this newsletter.

Idea: Choose a dress theme for dinner. How about your favorite sports team’s colors?
Idea: Maybe everyone orders in their favorite restaurant food and enjoys it together. Delivered pizza works as a virtual family and friends meal, too.

If you gather in person, enjoy a potluck where each person or family brings a dish.

Consider a virtual “cooking demo.”

Provide the recipe ahead of time so people can gather the ingredients.

  • For example, have someone demonstrate how to make an easy appetizer or even a veggie tray that is arranged to look like a cartoon turkey.

  • See for many recipe ideas.

Provide some conversation starters.


These ideas will get you started:

  • What is your favorite memory of a Thanksgiving meal?

  • What is your favorite Thanksgiving food and why?

  • If you could celebrate Thanksgiving with people from history, who would you invite?

  • What type of technology have you found most helpful in your life? What technology do you think we could do without?

  • Name one family ritual or holiday tradition you enjoy.

  • What were the most popular toys (or movies or TV shows) as a child?

See for more conversation starters.

Have fun and make some new memories.

Create a nostalgic “hand turkey.” Yes, grownups can do this too. Trace your hand, write one thing you are grateful for in each of the “feathers (your fingers). Color it and share a photo.

Question: My food budget is a little stretched. Do you have some tips for me?

See if any of these tips help you stretch your food dollar. See and check out the “Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen” publications to learn more.

  • Make a shopping list. This helps you stick to your budget.

  • Plan your meals. Planning helps put leftovers to good use.

  • Consider online shopping so you are not tempted by a lot of other foods in the grocery aisles.

  • Look for coupons, sales and store specials.

  • For added savings, sign up for the store discount program if available.

  • Don’t’ shop when you are hungry. That helps you stick to your shopping list.

  • Try store brands. They usually cost less.

  • Compare products for best deal.

  • Check the package dates. Buy the freshest food possible.

  • Store perishable food in the refrigerator right away to preserve freshness.

  • Freeze food in meal-size portions to prevent spoiling.

Article used with permission from Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension, Nourish newsletter, Issue 34. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 252-9030 or email .

What To Read Next
Get Local