By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS)– Thanksgiving is going virtual this year, and that means getting creative is key.

Like many local families, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker is looking into ways she can engage her family virtually while still maintaining Thanksgiving traditions.

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Her family typically has a 30-to-40 person gathering where everyone brings their favorite dishes and celebrates time together. This year, with her sons and the west and east coasts, even her immediate family gathering has shrunk.

“It’s been a tradition since I was a child,” She said. “It’s a void not to have that, so I’m trying to recreate the interaction as best I can.”

Here are Tucker’s tips for recreating family traditions and making virtual Thanksgiving memorable:

Virtual Open House

Open up your house to friends and family through a simple Zoom link. Tucker recommends setting the hours of the open house and allow guests to drop in and connect. She says you can “talk to whoever pops in the room” and encourage participants to have drinks and snacks on hand.

Luckily, your open house can last more than 40 minutes because in honor of Thanksgiving, Zoom will lift the limit to allow for longer meetings.

Virtual Cooking Classes 

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner with family may look a little different this year, but it’s still possible. Tucker recommends sending out recipes to family and friends ahead of time and scheduling a cooking call.

Everyone can follow along step-by-step and enjoy the same traditional meals. Tucker said virtual cooking with family can allow younger family members to learn from older members.

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Don’t forget to send out a drink recipe!

Virtual Dinner

Just because in-person dinner is no longer safe, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a feast with loved ones. Scheduling a virtual Thanksgiving dinner allows you to eat with company.

Virtual Game Night

In Tucker’s family, game night is a special tradition.

“Thats’s the biggest part I will miss, when we get together we play games right after dinner,” She said.

Luckily, Tucker’s family tradition can continue thanks to games easily played virtually to get the whole family involved. Tucker said her family has played trivia using Zoom. Another option is Scattergories as well as app-based games for game night.

Virtual Group Fitness 

After a day of big meals and relaxing virtually with loved ones, Tucker recommends organizing a group workout over Zoom. Whether a family member leads the Yoga class or a screen share with a YouTube Zumba class is the move, it’s a great way to stay healthy while connecting virtually.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff