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Thanksgiving Unplugged: 5 Ways to Host a Device-Free Dinner in 2022

November 16, 2022 4 min read

Thanksgiving dinner without devices

This isn't your first Thanksgiving rodeo.

You're well-acquainted with the typical litany of phone rings, selfie posting, and daily text notifications at your dinner table.

Now you're looking to skip the hassle and work smarter to enjoy a phone-free Thanksgiving.

We're here to support your device-free dinner campaign.

5 Ways to Encourage a Phone-Free Thanksgiving

Below, we've compiled a list of creative, stress-free ways to get your teens and other loved ones to stop texting at the table—particularly around the holidays.

1) Feed Their Fun

Everyone likes to get in on the action at the holiday dinner table. This year, come prepared with some fun trivia games to share with your friends and family.

Activities can be as simple as asking, "What are you grateful for this year?" Or there are some excellent  gratitude journal prompts to get the conversation flowing. Some families even write out things they're grateful for on faux leaves that are used as holiday decor for years to come.

Whatever you're bringing to the dinner table, be sure it's something you enjoy.

2) Practice Makes Perfect

Cultivate gratitude at the dinner table year-round by establishing a consistent rule for your loved ones: cell phones and dinner with their family members don't mix.

If your kids are anything like the rest of their peers, this standard feels difficult at first. Let's be honest; there may be some pushback.

However, think of the potential. Imagine sitting at the table without the tension of trying to instill a technology-free environment with your kids.

No chaos and no shouting; just technology-free bliss with the family. All while making memories and sharing stories that will last a lifetime.

While this is a great way to address technology-free training in your own house, when it comes to extended family, they may need to become more familiar with a tech-free dinner table. Even so, it's great to start these habits at home.

3) The Gift of Gab

Depending on the generation you grew up in, having an environment free of outside distractions may seem like common sense.

For some, sitting down at the dinner table was a process that required clean hands, zero hats, and a preparedness to have a down-to-earth conversation about a day in the life of each family member.

For other generations, mealtime is a busy break between sports practices, school, and their next activity. Sometimes, mealtime doesn't happen at the dinner table but rather on the go.

Regardless of your hopes and expectations for a perfect family dinner, speaking up for your wishes is an essential first step to achieving success on Thanksgiving day.

If you want your family focused on each other instead of Thanksgiving phone calls and Black Friday deals, let them know ahead of time. By giving everyone advance notice, they can arrange tech-related activities before or after the family meal.

Try to find ways to communicate openly and honestly with your family. It may not be a perfect conversation, and you'll want to do as much listening as talking during the pow-wow.

But communication is key if you're looking to be on the same page for the holiday dinners.

Be prepared to learn more about your family, and be ready for compromise. But find ways to tell each other what's important to you around the holidays.

4) Is It Perfect? No. Is that OK? Yes.

You can achieve many of your holiday dinner table goals with your best efforts. However, be prepared for compromise.

You may be ready to gather up all of the technology devices and throw them in a fiery dumpster. But before you start the inferno, take a moment to think about the holidays.

Being with your family and friends while sharing meaningful moments of the year is a great way to reminisce and catch up. Finding a way to do that technology-free can be difficult, but it's achievable. Be willing to collaborate with various family members to meet everyone's holiday wishes.

Perhaps your ideal holiday dinner involves no phones, but Spotify music is permitted. After all, holiday tunes can do wonders for setting the mood and making gaps in the conversation more comfortable.

Phone time may be permitted until the food is served or after everyone has left the dinner table. While the adults talk and play board games in the next room, maybe the younger crowd is left to their own catch-up time involving devices and video games.

However, you design technology's role in your holiday gatherings, setting boundaries and communicating upfront with your family what you hope to accomplish.

5) Store Phones in a Faraday Bag

Can you convince everyone to keep the phones away at the dinner table? It may be a good idea to store phones in a  faraday bag for the meal.

These bags can block signals and ensure that not only are phones away for the meal but that notifications aren't coming in. That way, there are few buzzes distracting from the conversations at the table.

Warm Holiday Greetings

No matter how you achieve your tech-free holiday dinner plans this year, we're here to help. Unplug from the holiday hurriedness and find time to connect with your family and friends authentically and without distractions.

Once disconnecting from technology becomes a part of your holiday traditions, your family may wish to make this the new standard for weekly family dinners or other special meals. (You never know, your teens might even start to like the tech break!)

However you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving, we extend warm holiday greetings to you and yours from all of us at SLNT.