More than any other American holiday, Thanksgiving is about spending time with family and friends — with the extra bonus of all that delicious food. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie… All of that is the proverbial icing on the cake of giving thanks for our good fortunes in the last year.
As such, Thanksgiving should be the one day of the year when technology takes a back seat to laughter, conversation, and genuine face-to-face interaction. Put the smartphone away, disconnect from social media, and pack up the laptop, right? Easier said than done, of course — as is relaxing on what can quickly become one of the most stressful holidays of the year.
Which is why we’ve compiled the following 5 tips for putting technology to work in productive, positive ways this Thanksgiving:
1. Cooking and meal planning apps can help. Yes, Grandma always produced a delicious spread for 15 people without so much as glancing at a recipe. But in this digital day and age, doesn’t it make more sense to utilize technology when you’re prepping and cooking for three days straight? From shopping and planning list apps like Clear+ to recipe clearinghouses like Butterball Cookbook Plus to menu assistants like Snapguide to project management sorters like KitchenPad Timer to interactive scales and high-tech thermometers, the app store can be your best (and cheapest) friend as you prepare for Thursday’s feast. And remember, hands-free mobile phone assistants can be a cook’s best friend.
2. Don’t underestimate the electric carving knife. Sounds silly, right? Ask anyone typically tasked with cutting up a turkey the old-fashioned way whether they’d prefer a semi-sharp blade or an electric carving knife come dinnertime on Thursday, though, and we bet you’ll get just one answer. This time-saver and frustration-minimizer is the ultimate in basic Thanksgiving technology.
3. Take advantage of video calling and photo sharing services. Unfortunately, we can’t all be with our families this Thanksgiving. But no matter how far away you are from your loved ones, Internet-based video calling is easy, cheap, and everywhere. Whether you prefer Skype, FaceTime, or another video conferencing service, don’t let distance keep you from telling that absent relative how much you love and miss them this Thanksgiving. Even better, you can instantly share photos from the day with any number of social media and cloud sharing sites.
4. Put DVR, TiVo, and other video/TV solutions to work. Everybody wants to watch their own personal Thanksgiving tradition: the Macy’s Parade, football games, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”… Rather than fighting over the remote, though, put technology like DVR, TiVo, or even the streaming service that can dial up Aunt Martha’s favorite show in an instant to use. Don’t like watching TV? Use that giant screen to let everyone display family pictures from throughout the year (Note: one tech-wise family member required).
5. Do your Black Friday shopping online. The paradigm is finally starting to shift on this American “tradition” that probably turns off more people than it turns on. Just look at outdoor retailer REI, which in October announced that it would close all of its stores on Black Friday so that employees (on paid holidays, no less) and customers could #OptOutside and spend the day NOT battling it out over that big sale. Of course, plenty of us would rather spend the day relaxing in the comfort of our own homes, which is totally fine — and provides a great opportunity to get some easy online shopping done.
(Bonus Tip) Tech support from the goodness of our hearts. Who doesn’t have a technologically disinclined relative that is perpetually in desperate need of help with their computer, smartphone, or digital camera? Yes, it’s frustrating to help them with the most basic of requests, year after year. But this Thanksgiving, remember that a little generosity can go a long way — and chances are Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa will be beyond appreciative when we help them finally figure out how to turn that darn device on.
(Bonus Tip #2) Click here for our popular recipe for brining a turkey. Once you’ve tasted the results of the brining method, which entails submerging your bird in a salty solution so it will retain water and deliver moist, juicy meat, you’ll never roast or fry a turkey the traditional way again.
This Thanksgiving, let’s all agree to take a break from our individual devices and instead harness the best attributes of the digital age to bring family and friends together. Believe it or not, technology can make the holiday even more meaningful — so long as we remember that the most important thing is to give thanks for the friends beside us, the food before us, and the love between us. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CMIT Solutions!