Forget Your Standard Thanksgiving! 5 Ideas for Mixing It Up

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 9 years old.

Photo: martha_chapa95, via Flickr

Considering how easy it is for us to take all of the wonderful things in our lives for granted, it’s pretty cool that we have a national holiday dedicated to remembering everything we're thankful for. Despite the gratitude fest, there may be various roadblocks to your full enjoyment of Thanksgiving. To combat this, here's a helpful guide to help you overcome some common Thanksgiving obstacles.

Obstacle 1: You Don’t Eat (Or Like) Turkey

So it turns out your least favorite part of the Thanksgiving tradition is the bird. Whether your diet restricts you or your taste-buds just say no, there are certainly non fowl alternatives. If turkey doesn’t tickle your fancy but meat is A-OK, try apple and leek stuffed pork tenderloin or a whole roasted salmon with orange butter glaze.

If meat is too murdery for you, consider combining seasonal flavors into a delicious vegetarian option. Try red wine braised root vegetables or savoy bread pudding with spinach and mushrooms as a main course alternative. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t actually against the law to avoid turkey on Thanksgiving. So get creative, use seasonal flavors (or don’t!), and serve up something both alternative and awesome.

Obstacle 2: You Hate Football


Watching football is right behind consuming turkey in the traditions line. Unfortunately, this does nothing for those among us who would rather not watch football...ever. If your family is the type to settle into their Laz-E-Boys after the feast to watch the holiday matchups (this year the Packers vs. the Lions, the Raiders vs. the Cowboys, and/or the Steelers vs. the Ravens) avoiding the game can be a challenge. Luckily, there are a few businesses that remain open on this holiday and those businesses are called movie theaters. While your family settles in for a football-and-tryptophan-induced coma, you can sneak off to the theater for an evening of Jujubes and blockbusters. This year, catch Jason Statham in the action thriller Homefront , or check out that zany Vince Vaughn as he discovers he’s fathered 533 children through sperm donation in Delivery Man, or, if you haven’t done so already, bask in the glow of Jennifer Lawrence’s bravery during The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Obstacle 3: Too Much Conversation with Family

Holidays often mean time with our families. While on the surface this sounds like a wonderful thing, too much conversation with one’s family can turn a person insane. If the holiday conversation with your family members starts to gnaw at your nerves, there’s always games! Divert your Aunt’s attention away from your unmarried, non-baby-having self with a board game. Try the fun, conversational games like Apples to Apples or (my personal favorite) Celebrity to get your family chatting and laughing. Help make some positive memories this year while breaking the monotony. Remember, not everyone gets the opportunity to spend this holiday with their family so consider yourself lucky. If you're one of these people, organize a fun Friendsgiving potluck dinner!

Obstacle 4: Not Feeling in the Thanksgiving Spirit

It happens. Sometimes the holiday sneaks up on us just when we are fully settled in to our mid-autumn funk. If you’re having a tough time seeing the positive aspects of Thanksgiving (or of life in general), there’s one cure that’s guaranteed to work: do something selfless for someone else. Thanksgiving provides numerous opportunities of you to give back to your community, feed those in need, and truly reflect on the meaning of the holiday. Your volunteer options are limitless and your service will surely get you in the right mindset, help your community, and spread a little human kindness.

Obstacle 5: Feeling Too Full

So you’ve gorged yourself on sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie and now you’re too full to move? Don’t worry; one day of gluttony shouldn't derail your entire healthy lifestyle. If simply stepping outside to take a walk in the beautiful Bay Area surroundings isn’t enough to motivate you, the Bay Area offers no shortage of Thanksgiving day Turkey Trots. Find one near you! Lace up your running shoes, throw on a sweater, and get your body moving. Giving thanks, of course, all the while.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!