Surprising Ways Southerners Are Celebrating Thanksgiving this Fall

Rachel Kennedy, Contributing Editor for The Scout Guide Huntsville, perusing Preservation Company.

If there’s anything that says “Southern” it’s copious amounts of food and large crowds of people coming together to enjoy each other’s company for an entire day. Southerners love food and gatherings so much they’re known to do it for any viable occasion… including the fact that it’s simply Sunday afternoon and, well, we’re all gathered together anyway, so why not feed everyone?! For both transplants and natives alike, a Holiday like Thanksgiving is essentially the Super Bowl of fellowship events for people down South. 

If you’re not spending days (or even weeks) before Thanksgiving prepping your home, coordinating family group photo outfits, dusting off your personalized, monogram Pyrex dishes, and pulling out great-grandmother’s secret stuffing recipe to start gathering unheard of ingredients for (yes, it calls for COKE. And not the Diet kind), can you even call yourself a Southerner? 

For many people who treat Thanksgiving like the start of the Holiday season, not being able to have their time to shine can feel like an end to all that is good and Holy. I caught up with several enterprising Southerners who shared their surprising solutions to creating a memorable and socially-distanced Thanksgiving day this year.


Paige M. of Kansas City, MO: “This year five of my friends and I are all choosing our favorite Thanksgiving dish to make. We’re each making six portions, and the night before Thanksgiving, we’re driving to each other’s homes and placing one portion on each person’s doorstep. We will each have six different dishes come Thanksgiving morning! It’s kind of like a traditional Christmas gift exchange, but this way everyone gets to enjoy a complete and satisfying Thanksgiving meal, which takes the burden of cooking off ONE person and still lets everyone feel close.”

Matthew H. of Huntsville, AL: “My dad is at high-risk for catching something right now so he can’t go anywhere. When I visit him we sit at least 6’ apart, and I’m not able to go in the house. I’m praying for a warm Thanksgiving day (or at least one warm day that week!) because I want to go up to his house, set up a long table, and pile it with Thanksgiving food favorites. He can sit at one end, and I’ll be at the other. We’ll be together and able to enjoy a day that’s all about being thankful we have each other in our lives.”

Morgan T. of Dallas, TX: “Since everything is changing this year we decided to create a NEW tradition as a family, so we feel more in control of the situation. There’s something psychological about choosing to make changes yourself, vs. being forced to make a change you don’t want to, am I right?! This year we are ditching the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and grilling ribs! We’re also having our Thanksgiving get-together outside so more people feel comfortable attending.”


Five ways to switch up your traditions while still feeling like you’re getting a good, ole’ Southern Thanksgiving:

Create new traditions as a family-like switching up the Thanksgiving day dinner menu or putting up your Holiday decor together.

Change locations from inside to outside.

Take the pressure off any one person to host by having your Thanksgiving dinner delivered by GrubSouth. (Pro tip: place your orders soon, they are closed on Thanksgiving day!) This makes the experience less stressful and requires no clean up all while supporting your local economy!

Host Thanksgiving at a park picnic table and play football “Friends” style outside or take a nature hike afterward. Pass out disposable cameras and have the film developed later (yes, you can still get 35mm film developed at Walmart!)

Go camping as a family on Thanksgiving and grill turkey dogs over an open fire, while swapping stories about your favorite Thanksgiving’s of the past. Play a game like “We’re Not Really Strangers,” which is a purpose-driven card game all about empowering meaningful connections. Three carefully crafted levels of questions and wildcards allow you to deepen your existing relationships and create new ones.

Have a Thanksgiving breakfast instead! Everyone attends in their pajamas, phones aren’t allowed, no posting on social media, and while everyone eats breakfast, you watch a Fall or Thanksgiving-themed movie together. Check out THESE delicious Thanksgiving-themed breakfast dishes to try!


Looking for more ideas? Discover the official Kennedy-Curate-approved list of Thanksgiving picks from around Huntsville that I’ll be enjoying this season!

Enjoy the Joe Wheeler State Park Thanksgiving Dinner HERE

Pick up a cozy new sweater to wear from Personal Couture HERE

Stop by The Garage at Clinton Row for a seasonal brew coffee — The #FALL latte (a sweet potato and brown sugar latte that brings memories of Fall family gatherings and a crackling fire!) is my personal favorite!


Leave a comment with your 2020 Thanksgiving plans to inspire other readers! Feel free to share a favorite recipe or a Thanksgiving memory that makes you love this time of year!

Love and blessings from my family to yours,

Rachel Kennedy @thekennedycurate 

Discover more official Kennedy Curate here!

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