We’ve all done the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce meal. If you like a traditional Thanksgiving meal, the standard menu of bird, stuffing, rolls, and sweet potato pie is ideal for your household. But if you’re less inclined to follow the pack, you might be looking for some unique Thanksgiving traditions to spice up your holiday season. And why not? You can still give thanks and show appreciation for your family, even if you’re not all gathered around the television, watching the Thanksgiving football game (blasphemy!).
Especially if you are a new family, just starting to build your holiday traditions, it might fun to throw in a few unique or new ideas. It can be a secret game that just your family plays, or something different to share with guests when they drop by for the big meal. Maybe it’s just time to shake up your own traditions with something new. Either way, here are some of our favorite unique Thanksgiving traditions.
Take a Holiday
Thanksgiving is usually all about gathering at home with your entire family. For some people, however, that’s more stressful than it is fun, especially if you have to try to make a meal large enough for the ten or so people that make the pilgrimage. You love your family, but do you really want to slave away in the kitchen all day while they bum around the house?
Instead of gathering everyone at one home, why not try an escapist Thanksgiving? Pick a warm, sunny spot and book your tickets early so you can be sure to get there with plenty of time to enjoy the sun and/or the surf. Most locals will abandon the beach at the beginning of November because eighty-degree weather is “too cold” for swimming in the water. You’ll be right at home in the warm weather and cool water.
But what about the meal? You have two options. First, if you are staying in a hotel with a kitchenette, you can make a makeshift Thanksgiving meal. It’s a little rustic but sometimes it’s fun to rough it a little bit. The second option is to eat out. It might be a little like that last scene from A Christmas Story, where the Parkers eat Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant—but that’s part of the fun. There really isn’t anything better than eating out when you know everywhere across the country, people are desperately trying to get dinner on the table.
If you don’t want to take off on a vacation for the few days off you might have for Thanksgiving, consider instead turning your house into a hideaway from the hubbub and business that almost naturally comes along with the holidays. Make your home a refuge, where the tired and beleaguered can come, enjoy a good meal, and not worry about Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any of the other big shopping days that roll around just after Thanksgiving.
Make your home a no-work zone. Ban laptops and cellphones if you have to. Thanksgiving should be about spending time with your family, and you can’t spend time together if everyone is too busy, working away on their electronic devices. Instead, have a marathon of Thanksgiving movies. Watch the funny and poignant ones. Even stray in to the cheesy made-for-TV movies for a straight shot of sentimentality. Nothing’s more fun than just taking the day, huddling in your television room with friends and family, and watching some movies while the Turkey cooks away.
You can also make and put up Thanksgiving decorations. If you want to get out of the house in the midday, take a walk and try to find some colorful leaves for the walls. Tape them to a string and you have a colorful garland to hand on your wall. There’s nothing better than adding some fall color to your home! You can make old-fashioned turkeys by tracing your hand and then coloring them and sticking them to the wall, or you can make a fancy sign and hang it over your table. Pick up pinecones and turn them into place cards, even if only a few people are coming for the actual meal itself.
Prepare for Christmas
If your family isn’t mad about Thanksgiving, you might consider using this time to get a jump on the winter holidays. Black Friday has begun to bleed over into Thanksgiving Day anyway, and there is something communally fun about braving the cold weather and standing in line with hundreds of other people. It doesn’t have to be a trial, it really can be an exciting and fun experience if you want it to be.
Some families just don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and you can use this time off of work to gear up for Christmas, by getting a lot of your shopping out of the way and even getting a jump on decorating. You don’t have to wait for December 1st in order to put up Christmas lights and trees. You might not want to be that house, that has Christmas decorations up as soon as the leftovers are packed away in the fridge, but it can be a great time to actually get your house decorated if the rest of your life is dominated by work.
Don’t Be a Host
Most people planning their Thanksgiving holiday start out assuming that they will have to make a turkey and host people at their home. If you still want to have the traditional meal, but roasting a whole turkey is out of your wheelhouse, you might consider trying to get yourself invited to someone else’s holiday. It doesn’t have to be rude, but if you start sending out inquiries, to see if anyone has extra seats at their table, you might find someone willing to let you elbow in, just on the promise of bringing along a pumpkin pie.