Happy Thanksgiving

10 new ways to celebrate time-honored traditions

Tired of the traditional turkey-cranberries-pumpkin pie menu? Maybe you’ve been tasked with hosting a huge group, and aren’t sure how to keep everyone entertained? Or, perhaps you want to put your unique stamp on the holidays and start some all-new family traditions of your own? 

From large-scale activities (costumes! Props!) to simple small changes (get outside)…why not implement one or two of the following ideas at your Thanksgiving day celebration this year?

Switch up the menu

Try a themed meal plan, and have everyone bring a dish. Maybe it is international theme—where every year, you become a culinary traveler. Italian, Korean, Southwestern, Caribbean, etc. Shake things up and have a Breakfast Thanksgiving (because, let’s face it, we all know we’re skipping that crucial meal every year to make more room for lunch/dinner, right?). Other ideas include a taco bar, a BBQ theme, or a luau.

Rather tether your menu to pop culture? What better way to celebrate that “winter is coming” than a Game of Thrones theme. Or what about a Mad Men(u) centered on 1950s-60s inspired items.

Want to do a traditional dinner…but still have a theme? Throw a cocktail party and have everyone play mixologist with autumn-themed beverages. Or, pick a signature themed cocktail (or mocktail) for your meal. Check out a few of our favorites below for inspiration!

Head to The Great Outdoors

Pack a picnic lunch and visit a local state park. Nobody says you have to eat your turkey at the dining room table! Many parks and recreational spaces are open on Thanksgiving and for the long weekend. Pack some turkey sandwiches and head outside and see what your local park system has to offer.

Take a family walk. As soon as dinner is done, get up from the table and head out the door—keep the pace leisurely enough so that everyone is able to keep up and enjoy each other’s company.

Touch football. Nothing fires up friendly competition AND burns off some calories like a game of touch football before dinner. 

Got guests who aren’t in to chucking the pigskin? Keep everyone involved by recruiting cheerleaders, mascots, or “guest referees.” Elevate your game by handing out pom-poms, whistles and noisemakers, signs, and other inexpensive/easily home-made props.

Get Hot to Trot…Turkey Trot, that is. Communities all around the country host annual Thanksgiving day races, with distances ranging from one-mile fun runs to 10k and beyond. Whether you’re a seasoned road-running veteran, or a newbie looking for a family-friendly walk to get the metabolism revved for dinner, there is bound to be an event for you. As an added bonus, many of these races benefit local charities such as food banks or shelters. Feel good and do good at the same time!

Celebrate thanks, AND Giving.

Host an annual Thanks for Giving Day. Encourage all your guests to bring clothing or toys or food items, and then donate them to local shelters (battered women, homeless). You could also collect pet toys and pet food and take them to the local animal shelter (or, many food shelves also have a place to bring pet food so families in need can keep their beloved furry friends at home even when times are tough).

Help a neighbor out. Volunteer to help a neighbor the week of Thanksgiving—maybe they are harried parents who could use a couple of hours of childcare so they can run last-minute errands. Perhaps there is a single person next door who has no nearby family or friends, but would love a half-hour of social time and a plate of food. Why not rake an elderly neighbor’s lawn so that it is tidy and neat when their children and grandchildren arrive from over the river and through the woods?

Volunteer to serve a meal at your local Salvation Army or other shelter. Don’t forget to call ahead/plan ahead, if you would like to volunteer ON Thanksgiving, however—many organizations book out weeks in advance, and have more hands than they have work for. Another way to get involved…volunteers are needed year-round—so why not use Thanksgiving to research the group you’d like to help out with, and then plan to donate your time when help is scarce?

Regardless, whether you uphold old traditions or start new ones; eat turkey, turducken, or tofu; hang out with friends or enjoy the quiet on your own…from our house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving from Renewal by Andersen!

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