Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates family and being together. Yet, it has become a shopping hallmark with people lining up as early as Thanksgiving afternoon for Black Friday deals. Instead of a relaxing Thanksgiving meal and time with family, people are rushing to finish and get in line just to get a chance at some deals.
The “biggest shopping day of the year” is a bonanza of deals, discounts, and shopping horror stories. While some people would never walk into a store on Black Friday, others wait all year to participate in the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Most people fall somewhere in the middle. They aren’t crazy about Black Friday, but if they’re bored enough, they’ll venture out to the local big box stores to see what deals they can score. However, just because you see a deal, that doesn’t mean you should start spending.
The average shopper spends almost $300 on Black Friday shopping. That’s a hefty amount to anyone looking to stay on a budget, especially when you tack that bill onto other costs.
This Thanksgiving, put the focus back on family and frugality; instead of heading to the stores Thanksgiving weekend, take part in some of these alternative activities. You may not get that flat screen TV, but the memories are sure to entertain you for years to come.
1. Enjoy the great outdoors
A few years back, you probably heard about REI’s “#OptOutside” campaign. While most stores were trending toward longer hours for their shoppers (and missed Thanksgivings for their workers), REI did the opposite: it closed every location for Thanksgiving, along with its headquarters, giving employees a paid day off to “opt outside.” Instead of getting cooped up in a crowded store, offering cut-rate deals to bargain-hungry shoppers, employees were encouraged to take the day off to be with their families and enjoy the great outdoors.
The Opt Outside campaign was a media spectacle, as analysts analyzed the move from every angle. Was it a savvy PR stunt by a brand marked by its authentic commitment to values? Would it backfire in the retailer’s face as it traded huge potential profits for momentary public goodwill?
We won’t answer those questions here (the fact that #OptOutside is still going strong should tell you something). We’ll just say this: it’s a good idea.
Most of us take the great outdoors for granted. Reconnecting with nature after your Thanksgiving feast can be a refreshing, rewarding experience. You’ll get the chance to spend some time with friends and family in a beautiful natural setting and you’ll alleviate the “cooped-up” feeling that can result from having a house full of guests.
Even better, you can surely find something to do outside that is 100% free.
For best results, try to find a local landmark or destination that you haven’t been to in a while. Maybe it’s the oldest tree in the state or an especially gorgeous view at the end of a hike. Visiting these types of places is a great way to form memories that will last for years to come.
If you’re still stumped, search “things to do outside near me” and we guarantee you’ll find resources that can help you out.
2. Make something together
Even if your family isn’t the artsiest family in the world, doing a craft together can be a fun, rewarding experience, especially if there are kids around. Making something together builds memories and gives everyone something new to bring home.
If stumped on what to do,take to Pinterest. Hundreds of family crafts on Pinterest are easy and affordable to make for a large group. This pin in particular lists 30 different crafts that are perfect for decorating your home for the upcoming winter holidays. Pick a few, grab the supplies, and let your guests have at it.
3. Play a game that involves the whole family
As many psychologists have studied in the past, the instinct to play is one of the key things that make us human. In the context of biology and psychology, play allows us to form bonds and cooperate with our fellow humans.
In the context of this article, play is a great way to kill a few hours after Thanksgiving dinner as well. You might think that games are for children or that your family won’t take kindly to the suggestion to play games. Trust us; with the right game, almost anyone can have fun.
If we had to pick just one game to get the party started, it would probably be “Heads Up!” “Heads Up!” is a great game to get a large group of people engaged without much setup. While the app created by Ellen DeGeneres is the most popular and simplest iteration of the game, it costs a little money, so if you’re feeling cheap, you can easily replicate it by putting a bunch of words into a bowl.
“Heads Up!” is a lot like charades, but with a twist. One player holds the phone, screen side out, to his or her forehead. Names of celebrities, movies, animals, and books flash on the screen. Everyone else has to get the player to guess what’s on the screen without using any of the words displayed. For added entertainment, the app will film everyone yelling clues, using the phone’s front-facing camera, which can be funny all on its own.
Of course, you and your family can play whatever you want. Maybe you’re more into board games, poker, or flag football.
4. Volunteer to help those in need
Thanksgiving isn’t just about pigging out; it’s about being grateful for what you have. One of the most commendable expressions of that gratitude is volunteering to give back to those who haven’t had the same advantages.
For best results, you should start researching potential volunteer opportunities as soon as possible. Many charities see a huge influx of volunteers on holidays and simply don’t have the manpower to accommodate people who just walk in and want to help.
Finding a place to volunteer is simple: just Google it. A quick search for volunteer opportunities near you can bring up a wealth of options to consider. Alternatively, sites such as VolunteerMatch specialize in matching willing volunteers with organizations in need. You might even be able to find opportunities specifically designed for Thanksgiving volunteers.
If you’d like to make things more personal, ask your friends and family if there are any causes or charitable organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. Choosing a volunteer opportunity that really matters to your guests can make the experience even more memorable.
5. Take a walk together and burn off some calories
Over the course of Thanksgiving, the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat, well above suggested daily values. While we don’t advocate calorie counting during Thanksgiving dinner (it is, after all, supposed to be a feast), taking a nice walk after dinner can be a great way to keep everyone engaged and sneak a little exercise in to boot.
You won’t burn a ton of calories by walking for a mile, so don’t expect to negate your entire Thanksgiving meal, but it’ll make you feel better (and that’s what matters most!).
Taking a walk has fantastic social and emotional benefits as well. Walking gives you and your family a chance to relax and catch up away from the hustle and bustle of the home. It also makes you feel physically better and can elevate your mood.
6. Take a nap
No, turkey doesn’t make you sleepy, at least not on its own. While turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can make you drowsy, it doesn’t deliver any more of the chemical than most other similar foods. If you ate turkey by itself, whatever extra tryptophan it introduced into your bloodstream would be balanced out by all the other amino acids present.
In reality, the huge influx of carbohydrates and alcohol makes most people crash after a heavy Thanksgiving dinner. Carbs trigger the release of insulin, which removes most amino acids from the blood, except for tryptophan. Combine that with a few glasses of wine and you’ll probably have a hard time keeping your eyes open.
Why fight it? If your guests look sleepy, don’t bother trying to rouse them. Instead, put on a relaxing playlist, pass out blankets and pillows, and let everyone take a snooze. They’ll be back in action once they get a little shuteye.
7. Start decorating for the next holiday
Maybe you’re extra excited for Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you’ll be celebrating next. Maybe you just love winter and everything that comes with it. If you can’t wait to decorate, then right after Thanksgiving might be your best chance.
Think about it: you’ll have a small army of people in your house without much to do. The least they could do is help you put up some holiday spirit.
Depending on how much cheer your family is already feeling, you might have to set the mood a little bit. Make some hot chocolate and holiday cookies. Sneak some winter hits onto your Thanksgiving playlist. When it comes time to break out the decorations, don’t frame it as a chore. Frame it as a fun way to extend the fun and look forward to the next family celebration.
8. Create a living room theater
If your stomach is full and you want to take it easy, watching a movie might be your best bet. Tons of websites offer movie rentals cheap, including YouTube and Amazon. Of course, if you’re really looking to stay on a budget, you can visit the Internet Archives, which has a bunch of classic movies available to watch at no cost.
The best part of watching a movie at home, however, is creating your very own theater. Use sheets and pillows to create a fort and then load it with blankets and snacks. Voila, you have a cozy theater where you can enjoy any snack, not just popcorn and soda.
9. Have a campfire in your backyard
With November comes chillier weather. Make the most of this weather by snuggling up in front of a campfire. Lay out some cozy seats and enjoy the crackling of the fire.
When you get hungry, get creative. Incorporate Thanksgiving leftovers into some fun campfire recipes, or, go with a classic campfire food, s’mores. While you’re eating, make sure to look up and enjoy the stars. Make a game out of who can pick out the most constellations, even if it’s just the big and little dipper.
10. Go on a scavenger hunt
What better way to bring out some family competition than a scavenger hunt. There are tons of ways to approach scavenger hunts with today’s use of smartphones and the Internet.
You could have a digital scavenger hunt and see who can find the funniest meme or wisdom teeth removal video. Instead of scavenging for items, you can have people race to see who can take a picture with a dog or a local landmark first. Of course, there’s always the more traditional type of scavenger hunt if you’re feeling ready. Look at this great list of hunt items and make a list.
Once you’ve decided what type of hunt you want to do, the rest is easy. Separate into teams and set a time limit. Whoever finishes first with the most items wins and gets bragging rights until the next scavenger hunt next Thanksgiving.
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Black Friday can be an intimidating day, but don’t feel like you have to participate in the shopping mayhem. If you’re trying to stick to a budget this holiday season, or just spend a little more quality time with loved ones, take part in some of these fun activities and make this Thanksgiving one of your most memorable yet.