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After Dinner Thanksgiving Traditions

Special. ways to highlight the day with family fun and gratitude!

Turkey Day is just around the corner and you probably already have your menu set. But, what are you doing after your big feast? You will probably pack in the traditional foods by mid-afternoon and still have a good chunk of daylight left! Here are 15 ways to spend the rest of the day, starting after Thanksgiving-meal traditions:

 Talk About Gratitude

Some people do this before their big meal, while others save it for after the delectable dishes are served out. Talk about what makes you grateful in your life and the blessings you enjoy. Spend time considering gratitude and you will experience a deeper appreciation for your life and those around you. Everyone has something to be thankful for—even in the midst of a lot of hardships. This is a great time to remember a loved one if you are missing someone important at the table this year.

 Write Down Thankful Thoughts

Don’t just talk about it, write down your best memory for the year or thing you are most grateful for. These could be put in a jar for next year or drawn out and read anonymously one at a time. Some people write their blessings on rocks for a decorative jar that will remind them of their joys all year long, adding to it each year.

Play a Silly Turkey Game

Make a ridiculous turkey hat and force everyone to wear it while they play a simple game, like pin the tail on the turkey, corn hole or a three-legged race. You can turn anything into a hilarious game with one simple, silly prop. The more ridiculous you get, the better.

Take a Nap

Okay, this might not be planned. All that tryptophan from the turkey, carbs and sugars are going to lead to a crash. Lean into it and plan a Thanksgiving siesta! It could become a thing.

Go for a Walk

If sleeping after Thanksgiving sounds awful, try the opposite (or, better yet, do it after the nap!). Wake up your senses with some fresh air and beautiful sites. You can walk your neighborhood, a local beach, a park or a trail. Just get outside and enjoy the fall weather while your meal settles in.

Clean the Kitchen!

We are all about practical and someone’s gotta do it. Buckle down and get that table swept and kitchen spotless within just a few minutes. Many hands will make light work. And, this is a great time to divvy up the Thanksgiving leftovers so one person doesn’t end up with all the mashed potatoes. Tell your guests to bring their own storage containers and everyone will leave happy.

Make Thanksgiving Crafts

Do you have kids (or crafty adults?) that need something to do after dinner? Plan some cute Thanksgiving crafts to serve as a memory of your event. You won’t get a lot of use out of them this year, but make something you will store and pull out as décor for years to come. Handprint activities can be really cute for kids, showing how much they’ve grown in future years. Leaf and pumpkin decorations are often popular for Thanksgiving as well.

 Read Thanksgiving Books

If you have kids in the mix, pull out the thanksgiving stories and read them one last time for the year. If you don’t have any Thanksgiving books, this could be a great time to order them. Most of your favorite characters have a fall or Thanksgiving book. These can teach kids about colors, seasons, giving, sharing, gratitude and more. Find books that are fun to read so you can enjoy entertaining them for a little bit with the read-aloud session.

 Start a Backyard Football Game

Thanksgiving is often known as a football day. You can start a game of flag or touch football for fun with your friends or family. All ages can play or you can make it more competitive by limiting it to a specific age range.

 Volunteer Your Time

No kids (or older kids)? Take time to do something for someone else. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters often get a lot of volunteers on Thanksgiving, as people help dish out their large community meals. Animal shelters and other nonprofits often look for willing volunteers during this time as well. Thanksgiving is a day for gratitude, so volunteering or doing RAoK (random acts of kindness) is just fitting.

 Go Shopping!

Perhaps opposite would be running into Black Friday lines, but it is another huge Thanksgiving tradition. Many stores have been pushing their hours back to the point where “Black Friday” starts shortly after your Thursday Meal. But there are still some trying to hold off their early bird hours until after midnight. You can usually score some cheap throws, slippers, games or kitchenware. If you are going for any tech items, plan to get there early and wait in line.

 Run off the Calories

Turkey Runs help burn the calories and jumpstart your weekend. Join a fun run or Turkey Trot to cover 1k, 5k or 10k distances. Your kids are usually welcome too, since the goal is to get people of all ages involved. Once you do one, you might feel addicted to the feeling of this post-Thanksgiving community event.

 Play a Game of Charades

Acting out random words with terrible attempts at miming is one of the funniest ways to spend the rest of your Turkey Day. You don’t even need a special game to do it!

Just have someone (you know, the wallflower that never wants to play) write down a bunch of random objects, movie titles, foods, emotions and activities on slips of paper. Throw them into a bowl, split into teams and have the wallflower run the timer. You can draw on paper or a whiteboard. 

Keep track of the score and make the losing team run around the house, clean the kitchen or do a coordinated dance routine. There are options. It will make the game much more serious by upping the stakes (especially if you are playing with adults).

 Play a Game of Cards

Gin Rummy, Spades, Euchre, Go Fish, Poker—there are tons of fun games for a post-Thanksgiving party. Start tables with different groups and create a tournament if enough people are interested. If it becomes a big enough tradition, you can create certain prizes by asking everyone to donate something small, like a candy bar or four quarters to the winner pot.

The most important part of Thanksgiving is enjoying your loved ones and self-reflecting on the things you are thankful for. Have a great Thanksgiving Day with these after dinner ideas and create a tradition that takes up your whole day!

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