WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Volunteers serve Thanksgiving meals during the annual Feast of Sharing event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Cox Media Group National Content Desk
For many Americans, Thanksgiving is steeped in family traditions, but for those seeking alternative ways to spend Thanksgiving, there are plenty of options. Here are ideas for a nontraditional Thanksgiving that are creative, fun and sure to create fond memories for years to come.
One way to spend Thanksgiving is giving back to others. Pick either the early morning of Thanksgiving, the afternoon, the evening when most everyone will be napping from eating or the entire day to help out in a local food pantry, volunteer at a shelter where they are feeding the homeless/less fortunate or create your own way of giving back that fits local community needs. For help on figuring out where you can be of help, visit VolunteerMatch.
Getting out of town
Switch things up this year and get out of town for Thanksgiving. Spend Thanksgiving week relaxing beachside with a drink, exploring a city through its food in restaurants and eats from the street or immersing yourself in cultural or local traditions. Book early as you can to avoid higher flight prices and hotel rates. Get creative with leaving and returning dates. For instance, it’s likely to be cheaper to leave for a Thanksgiving trip on the day of and return a week later rather than the following Sunday, when a lot of other travelers will be doing the same.
A buzzword in recent years, Friendsgiving is intended to be an addition to family traditions and not a replacement. Plan a Friendsgiving Thanksgiving dinner, lunch or brunch the weekend before the holiday and assign friends to bring different dishes to lessen the load of hosting. Create a signature drink for the event and leave a portion of Friendsgiving for games and revelry.
Snazz it up and turn Thanksgiving into a fancy affair with a cocktail twist. Hire a bartender to curate a Thanksgiving-esque selection of drinks featuring cranberries and spiced liqueurs, for example. Create a fun invitation that spells out the dress code.
Instead of being overwhelmed with all the moving parts inherent in pulling off a Thanksgiving dinner, opt to ask guests to bring a different dish. Delegate all you need and separate it into categories: meats, side dishes, desserts, drinks. Assign guests on what to bring based on their strengths.
A spin on the cocktail party idea, set a theme for Thanksgiving and run with it. If Italian themed, make only Italian dishes for the food, settle on a certain region of Italy and pick wines from there and play movies set in Italy after dinner and as dessert is being eaten.
A museum day
Spend the day gazing at works of art on Thanksgiving. Some museums are open on Thanksgiving, and it’s a great time to check out an art collection without large crowds. After an afternoon of reflection and inspiration, follow up with a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Thanksgiving is a great time to go for a run and thankfully, many cities have racing options, often affectionately referred to as Turkey Trots, for those who want to burn a few calories on America’s biggest eating day. To find a race near you, visit Active.com.