A Few Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Celebration Ideas

What does your Thanksgiving Day look like? Is it the same thing you have been doing your whole life? Is it something you look forward to or something you dread? Have you ever thought about switching it up a bit?

A few years ago a student of mine came back from break and told me about how her family dressed up in full on pilgrim and indian costumes for Thanksgiving dinner. I just thought, "wow that is the kind of Thanksgiving I want to have."

The holidays can be such a stressful time with the traveling, hosting, planning and family time, that I think throwing in something unexpected just might be the way to loosen everyone up and make it a Thanksgiving everyone will remember.

Here are a few ideas to toss around:

Go Out to a Restaraunt: Treat yourself to a gourmet holiday meal. Have someone else do all the dirty work. Just show up, eat, drink, talk and go. No cooking, helping, cleaning or gifts.

Eat a Foreign Cuisine: I know this is a hard one to swallow, but how about cooking something other than turkey. It could be fun to choose to create an entire meal from another culture to experience on this day with your family and friends.

Have a Vegetarian Thanksgiving: What do you mean NO Turkey?! Yes, you read that right and for all of you carnivores out there I know this sounds sacrilegious. And no that doesn't mean you would be stuck eating Tofurkey. Vegetarians and vegans eat extremely well and there are a plethora of incredible recipes out there for just such an occasion. It could be a good time to expand your culinary skills and palate.

Volunteer at a Shelter: Start the day with your family by heading over to your local soup kitchen and help feed others.

Show and Tell: Instead of the usual and awkward "go around the table and say what you're thankful for" bit, how about each person brings something with them that they want to share with everyone else. Make it a time to get to know each other a little better instead of making up something to say that sounds appropriate.

Take Some FUN Family Photos: Loosen everyone up and take some family portraits that you will actually want to have around. Create a photo booth atmosphere with a background and silly costumes for people to pose with throughout the night. Here are some DIY printable props from the Silhouette Shop.

Throw a Cocktail Party Instead: Why not make a bunch of appetizers and cocktails to nibble on throughout the day instead of a big sit down meal. You could still make a traditonal menu, just as a creative, bite size version of it.

Take a Vacation: And last but not least why not use these four days off to get away. Get your family together, rent a cabin or meet up somewhere away from home and spend some quality time with each other. That's what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about anyway right?

This is the first year without my mom so we have decided to put some of these ideas to the test. My husband and I will be playing games, sitting by the fire, partaking in a family-style vegan comfort food feast at one of our favorite restaurants here in Seattle, and ending it with a round of sweet treats with friends. Who knows — maybe it will be the beginning of some new non-traditional traditions.

Do you have or know of any fun and quirky traditions to add?

Image: The Silhouette Shop

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Alysha is a photographer and designer living in Seattle who loves dark chocolate, tea, and all things furry. In her spare time you'll find her with paint in her hair renovating her 1919 Craftsman and sharing the process on her blog Old House New Tricks.