After Thanksgiving dinner, make memories with friends and family by enjoying long-time traditions or creating new ones. Here are some ideas:
1. Host a game night. Ask guests to bring their favorite board game. Be sure to have games on hand that are appropriate for all the kids who will be at your house, including teenagers and preschoolers. After dinner is cleaned up, pull out the games and help everyone find one to play. You can also play a group game, such as Balderdash, Pictionary or Catch Phrase. Katie Roger’s family always played games together after dinner and says, “Some of my favorite memories growing up are from these times.” Need more ideas? Find a list of fun family board games here.
2. Head outdoors. Divide your guests into teams and have fun playing a friendly game of touch football. Be sure to clearly communicate the rules. Or, play Hide and Seek, Kick-the-Can or Capture the Flag with a big group.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head to a nearby canyon, beach or wilderness area and explore local hiking trails together. Find a list of San Diego’s favorite hiking trails here. Take a family walk or bike ride in your neighborhood. Remember to have guests bring walking shoes or bicycles when you invite them to dinner.
3. Create a family scrapbook. Ask each family member to bring a few favorite family photos to Thanksgiving dinner. Provide colored cardstock, patterned paper, glue sticks, stickers, pens and scissors. Have each person create a scrapbook page using the pictures and write their memories on the page. When everyone is finished, add the pages to an album. Be sure to include the date and artist on each scrapbook page. Next year, create more scrapbook pages and add to the album each year.
4. Write thankful letters. Have each guest think of one person for whom they are especially thankful this year. Hand out pens and paper and encourage your guests to write the person a letter telling them why they are special. Include preschoolers in this activity by having them dictate the letter to an adult or an older child. When everyone is done, provide envelopes and stamps and drop the letters into a mailbox.
5. Decorate for the holidays. Consider decorating for the holidays on Thanksgiving evening to include your guests in the festivities. Some families pick out a Christmas tree together on Thanksgiving to decorate later in the weekend.
Another idea is to make holiday decorations together after dinner. Some simple ideas include paper chains, salt dough ornaments and bead ornaments. When coming up with a project, be sure to include young children who might want to participate and provide alternate crafts if you have guests who celebrate Hanukkah or other holidays. Find a bunch of fun holiday crafts here.
6. Volunteer together. Consider heading to a soup kitchen, shelter or local 5K to help serve meals or pass out water. Find ideas on where to volunteer in San Diego in "Put Gratitude into Action."
“I want my kids to see the blessing they have while at the same time serving others who are not as fortunate,” says Mary Ford.
Another option: Use the time after Thanksgiving dinner to help an elderly neighbor with a special project, such as painting or raking leaves, or organize a food drive. Ask guests to collect non-perishable items from friends and neighbors and bring them over on Thanksgiving. After dinner, take a field trip to the food pantry to deliver the food.
7. Organize a talent show. When Carrie Schlegel was growing up, her family had a talent contest each year on Thanksgiving night. The kids and grown-ups took turns performing, quoting Shakespeare, singing and playing the violin. Each year someone won a trophy for the best performance. Schlegel looked forward to this tradition throughout the year and is planning to host her own family talent show this year.
When you invite guests for Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to let them know about the talent show ahead of time. Encourage everyone, including children, to share their talents. Remind everyone to bring props or costumes needed for their performance.
Whatever you do with your downtime on Thanksgiving, be sure that you spend it with family and friends. You may find yourself starting traditions that everyone looks forward to throughout the year.
Jennifer Gregory is a mom of two kids. Her family enjoys playing football in the yard each Thanksgiving and her son has been planning for this year’s game for months.
Check out San Diego Family's Thanksgiving Round-Up for more great ideas.