Thanksgiving in the Digital Age: How Technology Can Make the Best Meal of the Year Even Better

Ah, it’s finally here: The meal you’ve been waiting a whole year for. Mom’s homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce (from the can, of course), and the one random side dish your uncle always brings (turnips, anyone?). What’s not to love?

While Thanksgiving is arguably the most traditional American holiday, traditions are made to be broken (or at least improved upon). Consider adding some tech to your turkey this year to improve the experience for all (even your picky Aunt Susan).

In the Kitchen
When the “big day” comes, the most time-consuming—and, depending on your family, maybe or maybe not the most stressful—part of the meal is actually cooking it. Thankfully, there are many ways technology can help make this year’s meal prep. as easy as, well, pie.

No, not those apps.! (Yes, I’m hungry, too.) I’m talking about cooking and meal planning apps. There are hundreds of them out there, so you’re bound to find one (or more) that work for you. For example, with the Paprika Recipe Manager app, you can easily plan your Thanksgiving dishes, find recipes, and even generate grocery lists, saving you crucial time at the store. Goodbye hand-written lists!

Recipes/Cooking Videos
How many times have you spilled something on your phone while trying to follow an online recipe? It’s also not exactly convenient to have your phone time out while your hands are covered in pie crust. If you have a Google Nest Hub, consider moving it into the kitchen (if it’s not already there). Google’s virtual assistant can walk you through online recipes on-screen, saving your phone, or even your old-school paper recipes, from splatters and spills. You can even tell Google to find you a YouTube video that shows you how to properly baste or carve a turkey like a pro.

Wireless Thermometer
Apps, sure. Videos, yes. A wireless thermometer? I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need that?” Yes. The answer is yes. Imagine not having to constantly check the oven. Imagine not worrying about whether your bird will be dry or raw in the middle once dinner is served. The beauty of this device is you can step away and not worry about the consequences. That time is probably better spent cleaning the bathroom, anyway.

At the Table
It’s showtime! You’ve prepared a delicious and intricate meal for family and friends; what can go wrong? A lot, actually. Here’s a few pieces of tech that can help keep everyone happy between mouthfuls.

Electric Carving Knife
If you’ve ever endured the challenge of evenly slicing a massive turkey with that dull carving knife you use once a year while a tableful of drooling people watch you work, an electric carving knife should be a no brainer. And the price point will make you wonder why you didn’t buy one years ago. Also, how often do you get to use power tools at the table?

Video Conferencing
Family or friends who can’t make it to your glorious feast? Not to worry. There’s an app for that. Well, several, actually. You can livestream your dinner to faraway guests using apps like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, to name a few. Pro tip: Do a test run beforehand to avoid any last-minute technology snafus. Cold turkey is no fun (unless it’s on tomorrow’s sandwich).

Keep the vibe going with a holiday-themed playlist, like this one on Spotify. Then, when Uncle Patrick starts to tell one of his famous stories for the 10,000th time, you can turn up the jams to drown him out.

After Dinner
You made it! Dinner was an overwhelming success, judging by the heaviness of everyone’s eyelids. Your family even (maybe) kept things civil around the table. Now what? Keep those good times rolling with some more modern-day tech tools.

Games and Conversation Starters
Now that all the food has been put away, what the heck are you going to talk to these people about? Let your phone decide! Conversation starter apps like Party Qs come stocked with great questions so your tryptophan-addled brain can stop worrying about it. If your crew is the partying kind, some family-friendly games like Heads Up can help keep things lively.

Slideshows and Family Videos
As we transition from analog to digital, our family memories are following suite. If you’ve taken the step to digitize your family photo album or videos, Thanksgiving could be the perfect time to share them with your loved ones. Many smart TVs and phones can be paired to allow broadcasting of pictures and videos. If you have an iPhone and an Apple TV, for instance, you can do this in a snap.

Meditation Apps
One of the most important things to do on Thanksgiving is the one many of us forget: take some time for yourself. Once the guests have cleared out, reflect on the day and all you’ve accomplished. Whether you cooked a meal or just enjoyed one, Thanksgiving can be a stressful event. Apps like Headspace and Calm can guide you through meditations that will leave you feeling balanced and centered.

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