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Six ways to celebrate Thanksgiving if you can’t be with your family this year

As much as we love to be with family during the holidays (even if they sometimes drive us crazy…no offense, Mom, because I know you’re reading this) sometimes we can’t get there. Work schedules, budgets and just plain old life intervene and before we know it, we’re on our own for Thanksgiving. This can be unsettling, especially if it’s your very first Thanksgiving away from home.

No worries! We love you, so we’re here to help. If you’re away from your family, Thanksgiving might be a little different, but it doesn’t have to be sad or lonely. Here’s a fun list of ways you can celebrate if you’re on your own:

1. Host a Friendsgiving celebration

You might feel like you’re alone, but you’re not. We promise. Chances are you know lots of people who aren’t making the trip home for the holiday. Even if your besties ARE getting away for the actual day of Thanksgiving, who’s to say you can’t hold your own feast the day after? I mean, there’s no law against eating turkey and green bean casserole on Friday or Saturday. (All that stuff will be half-price after Thursday anyway. Just saying.) If you’re hosting Friendsgiving after the actual day of Thanksgiving, bake pies all day on Thursday. Put the casseroles together. You’ll be so busy preparing for Friendsgiving that you won’t even realize what day it is.

If you’ve got friends who are on their own, invite them over. Have your own celebration on Thursday. Most importantly, don’t look at it as a consolation prize! Yes, families are awesome. But once we reach adulthood, let’s face it. Our friends are oftentimes the ones who love and support us the most on a day-to-day basis.

Friendsgiving is awesome! If you need more proof, you can read all about it here.

2. Volunteer

The best way to forget feeling down is to help someone else. TRUST. Most communities hold some type of group Thanksgiving dinner for people in need and sure, that’s a great volunteer opportunity. But there are loads of other places that need help for the holidays. Nursing home residents are ALWAYS happy to see a smiling face. And animal shelters are notoriously understaffed on Thanksgiving Day. Cuddling with adorable dogs and cats is a sure way to beat the holiday blues. Which leads me to our next suggestion…

3. Adopt a pet

OK, obviously we’re not advocating an impulse decision here. Adding a cat or dog (or hamster, guinea pig, rabbit, whatevs) to your household is something that requires a lot of serious thought and planning. But if adopting an animal is already on your agenda, now might the perfect time. If you’re on your own for Thanksgiving, your apartment or house will probably be a nice, calm atmosphere. You’ll probably be working less than usual, so you’ll have plenty of time to bond with your new pal. It’s something to think about. I mean, adopting an orange rescue cat and naming it Pumpkin would be a pretty awesome way to spend Thanksgiving. Who needs pie, amirite? (But you can still totally eat pie.)

4. Have a spa day

Bubble bath, facial mask, mani-pedi. Maybe a little wine? ALL OF THE YES. This is the sort of thing we always say we’re going to do, but somehow we never find the time. If you need suggestions on how to make this the most relaxing day ever, check out this article.

5. Set the record for binge watching

Go all out. Watch ALL of the shows. There are the obvious Thanksgiving-themed choices, like the Slaps-giving episodes of How I Met Your Mother and all of the Friends Thanksgiving eps (Remember Monica shimmying with a giant raw turkey on her head? Of course you do.) But hey, who says you have to watch anything remotely holiday related? Why not just indulge in some awesomely good TV. Check out the A.V. Club’s 25 Shows to Binge Watch This Thanksgiving Weekend. They know their stuff.

6. Mark something off your bucket list

Is there something you’ve been longing to do, but you just haven’t gotten around to it? Maybe it’s something completely out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s even a little outrageous. DO IT.

However you spend Thanksgiving, remember that you’re alive, you rock and you’re in charge of the day. It can be whatever you want it to be.

  • By Teri Wilson

Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is associated with huge family get-togethers. Whether it’s relatives from near and far coming together for a big, festive reunion, sharing all the blessings for which they are grateful or a day filled with the stress of annoying, overbearing relatives, it is still considered a family holiday set against the backdrop of tons of delicious food. But for some people, there may not be a bunch of relatives to get together with. It may be by choice – some people would rather avoid the family stress and squabbles – or it may be due to distance or loss. Either way, spending a holiday alone, especially one that is constantly being discussed in terms of big family crowds, can be hard.

My husband and I, for example, have no family to spend the holidays with. For the past few years, it has literally been just the two of us. And while that can be sad and lonely, we still figure out ways to celebrate because we know we have much to be thankful for. So if you are on your own for the holidays, for whatever reason, here are some tips on how to make it a festive Thanksgiving celebration for the two of you.

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1. Try to See the Bright Side

It can be hard to spend a holiday alone but there can also be advantages. So many people dread the holiday because of the stress involved in being with family. The reality is that not every family is the warm and loving one we see in the movies. If the idea of being with your family elicits more anxiety than warm and fuzzy feelings, think twice about putting yourself through it. Spend a relaxing day with no arguments or stress. If you are not alone by choice, relish the good memories you have of your family and of being with them in the past. Those memories are precious; not everyone has them.

Another advantage of celebrating alone is that you can eat what you want and you don’t have to worry about making anyone happy but yourself. You don’t need to explain your dietary choices to anyone and you don’t need to explain, yet again, why there is no turkey on your table. Instead, the holiday becomes a more relaxing time where you can focus on what you want, what makes you happy, what you want to eat, what you are thankful for and what you hope to create in the future.

2. Start New Traditions

There is no reason that your celebration needs to be a tiny version of the usual big family gathering. Trying to recreate the traditional celebration without the guests might lead you to focus on whom and what is missing. Instead why not make new traditions? Think about things that are important to each of you and share those experiences together. Take a long walk or hike, just the two of you or take the dogs. Collect pieces of nature along the way. My table is always decorated with beautiful autumn leaves and pine cones that my husband brings back from his walks with our dog. Take photographs of the scenery to capture the moments. Use special dishes, bowls and serving platters that are reserved for special occasions. Share a bottle of vegan wine and toast to all the things you are grateful for and all that is yet to come. Not having a dozen people is no reason you can’t go out and toss a football but if that’s not your thing, how about starting a tradition of an annual holiday Scrabble tournament or some other game you both enjoy? Thanksgiving may not be thought of as a gift-giving holiday but that doesn’t mean that you can’t surprise each other with a small token of affection, maybe something handmade, a framed photo or a poem, to add more smiles to the day. When you create your own traditions, it cements the day in your mind as a “real holiday” and gives you something to look forward to each year.

3. Cook

Every year it may be just the two of us but I still cook as if we were having a crowd. First of all, I have never been good at cooking in small quantities – a habit I picked up from my mother. Second, cooking a lot means leftovers all week! You might think there is no one to impress but that isn’t true. The two of you matter. Sure, you can just order Chinese food or a pizza but that won’t make it feel like a real holiday. Whatever you would have cooked for guests, make it for yourselves but scale it down a bit. You can prepare a small entrée or two, stuffing, gravy and just a couple of side dishes. Our usual Thanksgiving meal is either a vegan roast (sandwiches and pot pies all week!) or some Gluten-Free and Vegan “Turkey” Cutlets, my Onion, Celery and Mushroom Stuffing, mashed white or sweet potatoes, mushroom gravy, a vegetable side such as my Delicata Squash Rings or Roasted Lemon-Thyme Brussels Sprouts and a big kale salad. For dessert, we only need one thing so I usually make one cake or pie such as my Pear Crumb Cake or Carrot Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Maple Frosting. Since it’s just the two of you, you can make whatever you love and not have to worry about pleasing anyone else.

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4. Or, Don’t Cook

Maybe your new Thanksgiving tradition involves staying out of the kitchen. Get dressed up and head out for a night on the town. That’s right, turn Thanksgiving into date night! Relax, let someone else serve you and don’t worry about the cooking or the cleaning up afterwards. Many vegan restaurants are open on the holidays; just be sure to make your reservations super-early and if the restaurant is not a vegan one, make your dietary needs clear well in advance.

If you would rather cozy up and stay in but still don’t want to cook, order your food in but again, skip the pizza and lo mein. Many restaurants offer special Thanksgiving menus that you can pick up and bring home. Be sure to order enough so you have leftovers to munch on all week.

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5. Get Out of Town

Thanksgiving can be the beginning of a long-weekend and that means the two of you can pack a bag or two and get away for a mini-vacation. Book a room at a vegan bed and breakfast or an animal sanctuary guesthouse. Check out the sights of a town or city you have always wanted to visit. Curl up in front of a fire with a good book or spend the weekend hiking, skiing or skydiving. If traveling is not an option, try getting away without going away. Research which local hotels are located right in your own town. Even if it’s for just a night or two, you can relax, order room service, get a massage or have a drink at the bar. Now that’s something to be thankful for! Check out 10 Awesome Green (and Veg) Places to Stay During the Holidays for more ideas.

6. ‘TIs Better to Give and Receive

We all know it’s better to give than to receive but getting can be fun too. If shopping is your idea of fun, start your holiday gift shopping early. You can brave the crowds in the stores or snuggle up with some vegan hot chocolate in front of your computer and shop online. While shopping for everyone else, start a new tradition to get something for yourself like a new vegan cookbook or a new juicer.

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Of course, on the day where we focus on being grateful, it’s always a good idea to remember those who are less fortunate. Even better is doing something to help. There is no better day (though any day is a good day to help) to volunteer your services. Offer your services at a local soup kitchen so others can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. Volunteer at your local animal shelter so the dogs and cats waiting for homes can get walks, hugs and much-needed attention. See 6 Reasons to Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter or Sanctuary. Clean out your closets and donate your old clothes, coats and shoes to the needy. Ditto for canned and packaged foods. Make a donation to your favorite charity, animal organization or sanctuary. Adopt a turkey or other farm animal that lives on an animal sanctuary. It also makes a thoughtful, caring gift.

7. Have Fun

The most important tip is to have fun. Focus on what you do have and count your blessings. Enjoy starting new traditions, spending time with someone you love and eating incredible food. Go out or stay home, play games or watch the parade on television, cook or let someone else do the cooking. It’s your day. Do what you love and what makes you happy. And have fun!

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

For more Vegan Food, Health, Recipe, Animal, and Life content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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Thanksgiving: When You’re Away from Home or All Alone

Thanksgiving: When You’re Away from Home or All Alone

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving include preschool art projects of making dough ball turkeys to decorate the dinner table & tracing my hand on paper to make the 4 finger feathers & thumb neck turkeys we all made as kids. I was so proud of my artwork & my mom still has it packed away in her attic almost 40 years later.

I also remember going to my grandparents’ house for a family dinner. Everything was homemade – the bread, veggies from the garden, delicious lumpy mashed potatoes & gravy, fruit salad & strawberry ice cream. Grandpa always carved the turkey at the table with an electric knife & I was worried he would cut his fingers off. Then after dessert, my sister & would break the wishbone. I don’t remember who won their wish year after year but it was so much fun!

“Freedom from Want” by Norman Rockwell, 1943

When grandma & grandpa got older, our holiday dinner moved to my parents’ home with my mom doing all the cooking. She switched from mashed potatoes to “funeral potatoes“- a dish that got its name because in our faith you always made them & took them to the grieving family. They are the best, most yummy potatoes ever & are still a staple in my mom’s holiday meals. I stuff my guts to the brim when I get to have them!

Once my grandpa was gone, my sister & her family moved up north, my parents moved to be close to their grand kids – it was just grandma & me. I would go to her assisted living home & visit with her before dinner. Then we would take our place in the dining room to enjoy our meal & give thanks for all of our blessings. It always amazed me that so many of the residents there were alone on this holiday. Grandma & I would go around & chat with the lonely residents to let them know they weren’t forgotten. We made sure they all had smiles on their faces before we moved to the next table.

When grandma joined grandpa in Heaven I needed to figure out another plan for my Thanksgiving holiday. My husband at the time & his family were drag racers & the NHRA would host a huge Thanksgiving dinner at the Las Vegas race track where every race team participated in a progressive dinner. You would go from pit to pit, visiting, eating & wishing each other good luck in the next day’s races. I was able to go to this event one year because I took vacation time. All the other years I was on my own. I had lots of fun that year but was very lonely the other years. Calling my family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving always ended with me in tears, missing them so much.

One Thanksgiving, I joined my friend & his mom at Marie Callender’s for our meal. It was something new & we had a great time. But, I was still sad in my heart because it’s just not the same as being with your family. I was grateful they had invited me to join them & I so enjoyed their company but the evening call to my family ended the same way as the previous years – in tears.

When I divorced, I found myself again figuring out what to do on Thanksgiving. I am blessed to have wonderful friends who asked me to their home for dinner. For them, Thanksgiving starts the day before with prepping the food, playing board games & watching movies as a family. I went over on Wednesday night & they asked me to use my embalming skills to stitch up the “turducken” they made. I was so honored! I put the sweetest baseball stitch on those birds, everyone was taking pictures & marveling at how handy it was to have a mortician to Thanksgiving dinner! I felt like I’d found my holiday home & we did the same thing the next year.

This year, I was able to take vacation time the week before Thanksgiving. It will be my first holiday with my family in over 10 years – I’m so excited! I will fly up with my skateboard as my carry-on item so I can skate with my nieces & nephew. We will play video games, go shopping, cook & enjoy being together as a family. My brother-in-law is battling stage 4 cancer so we will make this holiday especially good for him, making his favorite chocolate treats for dessert. Did I mention dinner will be a day early because I have to fly home on Thanksgiving day? That is how amazing my family is – they are willing to change the date just so I can be there with them! I am truly blessed & can’t wait for the day I take off. Once I’m back in So Cal, I will join my friends for another wonderful turducken dinner, games & movies. I’m going to be stuffed to the gills after 2 full Thanksgiving dinners!

Via www.bluebergitt.wordpress.com

Knowing that I will be doubly blessed this year makes me think of those who won’t be. How can I help them? My plan is to donate food & money to the various charities & organizations in my community that help those in need. They won’t know me or what I’m doing to help but they will have a warm meal on this wonderful holiday- that is what makes me happy. Please, if you can help the less fortunate find a reason to be thankful this year then do it. You will be so glad you did & you will be blessed for your kindness.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving memories? What are your most enjoyable traditions? Are you helping those who need it? I can’t wait to hear from you!

Ready for Thanksgiving? Make sure you do these 6 things before Thursday

Thanksgiving is Thursday. We hope you’re ready for all the gut-busting food — but more importantly, we hope you’re planning ahead so that you and your family have an enjoyable day.

Between cooking up endless side dishes, making sure that the turkey isn’t dry, steering the conversation away from tense affairs, and cleaning after your guests have left for the evening, there’s just so much on your plate to tackle.

If you’re not ready, we don’t blame you. It’s a hectic day. But never fear: We’re here for you. Here are the resources you need to make this Thanksgiving a success!

1.) Avoid holiday burnout with these easy hacks

Holiday burnout is more common than you may think. Between prepping the big feast, making sure your family behaves and trying not to burn the bird, you may be feeling overwhelmed.

Are you too tired for Thanksgiving?:Join the club, then follow these hacks

2.) Be prepared to avoid kitchen disasters

If you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving, this list is for you: helpful tips to avoid kitchen disasters.

Oh no! You’ve burned the bird!:Last-minute kitchen tips to avoid Thanksgiving disasters

3.) Know your holiday wine pairings

Every Thanksgiving dish — from the canned cranberry sauce to Grandma’s special mac and cheese — needs a wine as a companion.

Thanksgiving wine pairing tips:What to drink with each dish

4.) Brush up on Thanksgiving etiquette

The Thanksgiving dinner table is a prime breeding ground for tense conversations, especially when it comes to politics. Brush up on how to handle — and de-escalate — potentially stressful interactions with your guests.

Be ‘polite and friendly,’ but dodge:How to navigate awkward political conversations at the Thanksgiving table

5.) Get the latest on this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Here’s what you need to know about this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with the new floats that are on display.

What to know:Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2019

Sneak peek:A sneak peek at five new floats to debut at Thanksgiving Day Parade

6.) Clean your oven

Don’t fear the self-clean button on your oven. It might seem scary, at first, but your oven’s done a lot of heavy lifting this Thanksgiving. Give it a good clean.

Know your stuff:Thanksgiving is coming. Here’s how to clean your oven

Follow Rebecca King and Joshua Bote on Twitter: @rebeccakingnj and @joshua_bote.

Looking for ideas on what to make for Thanksgiving dinner? Here’s everything you need to create a delicious turkey dinner, whether you’re serving 6 people or 16!

Turkey dinner seems stressful, but with some planning, it’s not difficult. While making turkey dinner, your best friends are planning and timing. We are here to help with the planning, and show you how to time your turkey dinner so it comes out perfectly every time.

Turkey Dinner Ideas – Planning

Use this printable Thanksgiving Planner to write it all down. This helps make sure that all dishes are accounted for and none forgotten to be served! (yes, it has happened to me!). Write down the timing to help make the day go as smoothly and easily as possible.

The first step to planning the turkey dinner is determining how many guests you’ll have, so you can decide which menu to make or do any shopping. We have included the right number of servings with this Thanksgiving dinner menu, but here’s a printable servings chart you can also reference.

You’ll need a different amount of turkey dinner plates, cutlery, a different sized turkey, and more ingredients as your guest list grows.

Next, I like to sit down and brainstorm some decor ideas for the house and the dinner table. If I am in a rush, I always keep an eye out for a Thanksgiving dinner kit like these ones on Amazon or at my local store. They include cutlery, napkins, plates, and sometimes decorations to make this part of the dinner super simple. Plus, easy cleanup!

Here are even more tips on planning the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Some of the things I always include on my shopping list:

  • Dinner plates
  • Candles
  • Napkins
  • Napkin holders
  • Cutlery
  • Dessert plates
  • A centerpiece (here are some fun homemade Thanksgiving centerpieces)
  • Toys or treats for the kids (it helps to keep them busy!)

To create a mood (and memories) during Thanksgiving dinner, remember to play some soft music, light some candles or string lights, and keep everyone chatting. I like to make a specialty cocktail for my guests – whether it’s eggnog, mulled wine, party punch, or a simple pitcher of fresh mojitos.

Thanksgiving Dinner Grocery List

Next, it’s time to create a grocery list for the ingredients we need to make the perfect turkey dinner. Kidding, we have already done that part for you!

I aim to do my Thanksgiving dinner shopping 3 days before the big day, so I can ensure the ingredients are fresh but it also gives me time to brine the turkey (if I am brining it), premake the pumpkin pie, or do any prep work I can to make the big moment a little less stressful. You may need to get the turkey in advance if it needs more time to defrost (check out how long to thaw a turkey here)!

Here is the Thanksgiving Dinner Menu:

  • Turkey or Ham – depending on which you’d prefer to serve, or both for a bigger crowd
  • Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes – these will save precious oven space on the big day
  • Brussel Sprouts – a classic Thanksgiving side
  • Sweet Potato Casserole – this is super easy with a little prep work
  • Green Bean Casserole – another great classic
  • Stuffing – my personal favorite Thanksgiving dish
  • Gravy – SO fast to make while the turkey rests
  • Cranberry Sauce – make ahead
  • 30 Minute Dinner Rolls – also make ahead, a day or two before Thanksgiving
  • Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, or Pecan Pie – depending on which you’d prefer to serve
  • Whipped Cream – homemade is always better, and this is super easy!

You can print out this Thanksgiving Dinner Menu List to refer to how many of each recipe to make for your dinner. This list shows how many servings one recipe makes, and then the number of recipes to make based on the number of servings that you need. For the turkey and ham, we’ve listed the size of turkey recommended. The grocery lists include groceries for the number of recipes listed in the table. If you’d like to add more servings or an extra pie, remember to update your grocery list!

These grocery lists contain everything you need in order to create this menu for 6, 10, or 16 people. If you’re serving 10 or 16, you may want to do both a turkey and a ham, and two or three pies. We love doing pecan pie and pumpkin pie if there is a large crowd.

Printable grocery lists:

Tip: As you go over the grocery list, remember to double check any dietary restrictions from your guests. If someone is vegetarian, it may be a good idea to substitute chicken broth for vegetable in some of the sides, or other substitutions you may have to incorporate.

Let’s Get Prepping

Okay, it’s time to begin getting dinner ready, even if Thanksgiving isn’t for a couple days. The key is in the timing. Anything you can do early, do a day or two before Thanksgiving.

Some of my prep includes:

3-4 days before:

  • Defrosting the turkey if it’s frozen

2 days before:

  • Baking the dinner rolls
  • Making the cranberry sauce
  • Decorating the table, if the space allows

1 day before:

  • Making the dessert, pies and whipped cream
  • Brining the turkey
  • Prep work, such as trimming the brussels sprouts and chopping the sweet potatoes
  • Putting out the stuffing bread to dry

Things that should be done on the day:

  • Cooking the sides – You can put the sides in the oven while the turkey rests.
  • The potatoes – don’t prep them in advance or they can oxidize and turn gray.
  • The turkey – should be cooked during Thanksgiving.
  • Gravy – you will whip this up while the turkey rests, using the drippings from the turkey pan.

Let’s Talk Thanksgiving Appetizers

Having some appetizers ready for when the guests arrive is the easiest way to avoid impatient guests while you get dinner ready. If you’re stressed, consider asking a guest to bring an appetizer or even a dessert to help.

Some of our favorite make ahead appetizer recipes include:

  • A charcuterie board – simple and fun
  • Jalapeno poppers – just put them in the oven when people start arriving
  • A cheese ball – creative and easy
  • Spinach and artichoke dip – a classic
  • Crostini – make ahead, and perfect for dips

Let’s Get Cooking

  • The first thing to start cooking is the turkey. A general rule of thumb for an unstuffed turkey is 20 minutes per pound, but you can reference this post about turkey temperatures to ensure you time it correctly, remembering to account for resting time.
  • Once the turkey is in, it’s time to start the Crock Pot mashed potatoes, because those will take the longest.
  • Then, it’s time to start working on the side dishes: cooking the stuffing ingredients, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and brussel sprouts. Don’t toss the stuffing bread cubes with broth until it’s time to put it in the oven. When all the sides are ready to bake, cover them and stick them in the fridge until the turkey comes out.
  • When the turkey is done, tent it with aluminum foil to rest while the sides go in the oven. Use kitchen timers, post it notes, or even phone alarms to ensure everything cooks correctly.
  • While the sides are in, get the gravy thickening on the stovetop, and set out the other sides like cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls (we have definitely forgotten the cranberry sauce before, so keep it close on the day!)
  • Allow the sides to rest for 5-10 minutes while you carve the turkey. Here’s the easiest way to carve a turkey.

Timing Tips For Thanksgiving Dinner

With the right prep, timing will be much easier. Here are some tips for timing your turkey dinner so everything comes out at the same time and to plan out your day on the Thanksgiving Planner:

  • The turkey needs to rest for 30 minutes, and that will be your busiest 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the side dishes. Iif something is done, cover it with aluminum foil to keep it hot.
  • If the turkey is ready too soon, cover it with tin foil and splash it with chicken broth to keep it juicy while it sits.
  • Stuffing the turkey will make it more difficult to time everything correctly. When stuffing is made in the turkey, it must also reach an internal temperature of 165°F. This can cause the breast meat to dry out while the middle comes to temp. You can easily make the stuffing on the side and add some pan drippings for flavor at the end!
  • If you’re serving a warm dessert, put it in the oven while everyone is eating the turkey dinner. Apple pie is usually served warm, but pumpkin pie or pecan pie can be served at room temperature.

My husband and I are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner this year, and while I’m looking forward to having friends and family over, I’m daunted by the hard work, high costs and inevitable chaos that goes into executing such a formidable gathering.

New research shows me that I have good reason to be intimidated: A new survey from LendingTree found that Thanksgiving dinner hosts will spend an average of $310.17 this year on the affair, for an average of 10 guests. Most of these hosts (64 percent) won’t receive offers from their guests to help cover costs. Additionally, research from Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard found that 75 percent of Americans admit to having to make a trip to the store on Thanksgiving Day, coming home with an average of 18 more items.

Looking at these stats gave me pause, and I wondered if perhaps we shouldn’t just call our affair off; but after consulting numerous experts in the realms of food, events, and savings, including the one and only Martha Stewart, I feel totally capable of pulling off a splendid Thanksgiving shindig that won’t cost a fortune or wear me out.

Here’s what we can all do to save time and money so that we can actually enjoy this day of gratitude.

Invest in these time-saving kitchen must-haves

When we plan for Thanksgiving dinner, we tend to go right to the ingredients we need, but keep in mind that you’ll also likely need specific appliances and/or tools for cooking. Best to make sure you have them now than to be forced to run out at the last minute to shop for them (likely at a higher than normal price).

“The best kitchen gadgets make food prep so much faster and easier that you’ll rely on them for both Thanksgiving feasts and everyday dinners,” Martha Stewart told NBC News BETTER in an email. Be like Martha and add these must-haves to your collection:

  • Microplane zester
  • Balloon whisk
  • Stainless steel measuring cups & spoons
  • Potato masher
  • Garlic press

Michael Silva-Nash, EVP of Molly Maid of Greater Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, a Neighborly company, recommends that Thanksgiving hosts also purchase Press’n Seal liner for the fridge shelves to “avoid having to clean cranberry sauce and gravy. Get the ones without designs and don’t leave on forever — they have to be removed on a regular basis.”

He adds that you might also want to get slow cooker liners, disposable baking pans, pie tins and plastic storage containers.

Making a menu will help you make a budget

Rather than making your menu to match your budget, I find it more practical to build my budget around my menu (going into it with the obvious understanding that I mustn’t go too crazy). This approach is helpful because I can calmly make my list without obsessing over prices the whole time. Once I make the menu, I estimate the total cost and then, if it looks reasonable, as in something I can afford to pay for in cash and not on a credit card, I proceed. If I find that it’s a little high, I reassess the need for some dishes.

Don’t blow your budget on decor. Use acorns, squashes and tea light candles

This time of year you’ll find ample collections of seasonal table settings, throw pillows, bath towels and a million other things with golden leaf patterns and turkey decals for sale. If you’re sticking to a budget, it’s best to ignore all this pricey kitsch and take a more DIY approach.

“Don’t underestimate the aesthetic appeal of things like acorns and foliage, or a sprig from a pine tree,” says Melanie Berliet, general manager of The Spruce. “There are so many items you can collect in the backyard to add a touch of nature to your mantel or tablescape. If you have a little more time for a simple DIY project, spray paint some nuts in gold to make your own decorative accent or transform a gourd into a vase. “Another idea is to learn some simple festive napkin folds that will make your place settings really pop and impress your guests — colorful, festive, and you can find packs of bold-colored napkins in bulk for cheap.”

Where can you find such napkins for cheap? Probably at your local 99 cents store, which is where Miguel A. Suro, a lifestyle writer at The Rich Miser does his holiday decor shopping. Here, you can also find tealight candles and other dirt cheap knick-knacks to add some festive pizzazz to your home.

“Budgets tend to be blown on decorations — especially last minute when you snatch up everything in sight to try and make your tablescape perfect,” says Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox. “Candles and lighting are the best ways to set the mood. Tea lights are great because they are inexpensive and burn for a really long time. Farm stands and nurseries are usually selling off the rest of their funky squashes, so grab a few on sale, cut the tops off and set the tea lights on the squashes.”

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The best way to chill warm wine FAST!

June 13, 201901:01

Make all the food except for the turkey ahead of time

Did you know that you can prepare pretty much every traditional Thanksgiving staple (save the bird) well in advance? The only caveat is that you’ll need a fairly capacious freezer and fridge for storage.

Anna Rider, food writer and recipe developer at GarlicDelight.com, dishes her favorite tips on this subject:

  • Dips: You can make dips like the Knorr vegetable dip or clam dip one week before Thanksgiving and freeze them. Dips and casseroles defrost beautifully. All you need to do is assemble the crudité plate Tuesday or Wednesday evening and store it in the fridge, ready to serve on Thanksgiving day.
  • Stuffing: Assemble the ingredients for stuffing and put them in casserole dishes the week before Thanksgiving. Freeze the raw stuffing in the casserole dish and take it out to bake on Thanksgiving morning as you prepare the turkey.
  • Sweet potato casserole: Peel and boil sweet potatoes the weekend before Thanksgiving. Put the cooked sweet potatoes in a casserole dish and store them in the fridge. Remove Thanksgiving morning and bring to room temperature. Spread the marshmallow on top of the sweet potatoes and bake just before serving.
  • Charcuterie boards: Cheese spreads with dried fruit and salami are possible to assemble Monday night and kept in the fridge.
  • Pie crusts: Prepare pie crusts two weeks ahead and freeze them. Opt for pumpkin pies or fruit pies from frozen fruit because they are much less effort to prepare. Assemble the pies on Tuesday and bake them on Wednesday. Reheat them in the oven before serving on Thursday. Serve with ice cream which you can buy this week.

Jessie Sheehan, author of The Vintage Baker, stresses the convenience of making all desserts before the event, noting that “even a baked and frosted cake can be made ahead and frozen, too. I freeze pre-baked biscuits, as well as overnight cranberry French toast to feed all my house guests on Thanksgiving morning or the morning after.”

When guests ask what to bring, don’t be shy (and ask everyone about dietary restrictions)

You know how people ask what they can bring and you say something really nice like “Don’t worry about it, just bring yourself!” Well, that’s the wrong answer if you want to save money and time.

“Have a good answer for guests that ask you what they should bring, or you might wind up with a bunch of bottles of red wine,” says Suro. “A great request is dessert, because it’s hard to make, and it’s usable even if the guests arrive late. Just ask multiple guests to bring dessert, in case some don’t show up or what they bring isn’t too great.”

Suro reminds hosts to ask each guest if they have any dietary restrictions ahead of time so that you can be sure to accommodate them. If they’re bringing anyone else, including kids, be sure and ask about them, too.

Take it a step further and make it a potluck

Perhaps the best way to save on money and time, is to take some of the burden off yourself and make your Thanksgiving dinner a potluck. To avoid confusion, consider taking charge of the core dishes and having the guests provide the rest.

Zaria Zinn, Evite marketing and communications coordinator, adds that more and more people are having “Friendsgivings”, where people come together in a potluck arrangement.

“Encouraging friends and family to bring food and contribute to your feast is no faux pas,” says Zinn. “In fact, new Evite data found that the majority of Friendsgiving parties are potluck style and 24 percent of Friendsgivings ask guests to sign-up for something to bring.”

Have kid-friendly foods on hand to stave off hanger

Kids are infamously picky eaters, so if you’re having any over, be sure to have their finicky needs covered.

“I usually will put out a cheese and fruit tray of some sort and if you want to have some fancier cheese that adults appreciate, you can still separate them and include some kid-friendly options (manchego, cheddar, gouda) and just cut into a format that kids can easily pick up and manage by themselves,” says Leslie Forde, founder of Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs. “I use crackers and some soft slices of cut wheat bread if dinner is running late children don’t get fussy and hangry. I also add clusters of grapes (cut in half if toddlers will be there), sliced apples and some almonds or walnuts. could be expanded upon with veggies instead of (or along with) fruit such as carrot sticks, cucumber sticks and mild bell pepper slices.”

Thanksgiving Party Games

  1. Easy Party Ideas
  2. Holiday Party Ideas
  3. Thanksgiving Party Games

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Thanksgiving party games!
They are fun to do during the Thanksgiving holiday when your home is full of family and friends
These Thanksgiving games will make Thanksgiving fun for all ages at your celebration (not just Thanksgiving for kids!).
Bean Toss – Players take turn trying to toss beans into a container.
Board Games – Break out your favorite board games, card games and puzzles.

Bobbing for Apples – Often associated with Halloween, bobbing for apples is fun anytime, and apples are plentiful this time of year. In a large bucket or container, float apples in water. Players try to grab an apple, using only their teeth!
Candy Corn Guess – Fill a jar with candy corn and let everyone guess how many pieces are inside. The player with the closest guess wins! You could do this with any fall object, such as acorns.

Candy Corn Hunt – Before the game hide candy corn everywhere. Divide players into teams and select one player from each team to be the “rooster”, (for Thanksgiving you could actually be a turkey, rather than a rooster…) while the other players are the “hens”. The hens search for the candy corn, and when they find it must “cluck” to get the roosters to come pick up the corn. Only the roosters can pick up corn. The team with the rooster that has collected the most corn within two minutes wins!
Candy Corn Toss – You’ll need: a timer, candy corn, and two bowls or buckets. Divide your guests into teams. Have each team stand behind a line drawn on the ground, and place a bowl for each team a short distance away. On “Go” each team tries to toss candy corn into the pumpkin. Whichever team gets the most candy in the pumpkin in two minutes wins! Another variation is to have a team member hold the pumpkin and try to catch as much candy corn as possible.
Charades – Play as a standard charades game, or play Fast Charades with Thanksgiving words.
Clothespin Drop – Players take turns trying to drop a clothespin into a jar.
Conversation Starter Game – Our list of conversation starters is a great way to get and keep the conversation rolling at the dinner table or during the day.

Family Fued – Divide into teams for a round of Family Fued!
Family Photography – Give each child a camera and have them take photos of friends, family, and things they think are special. Make it more fun by giving them a list of things to take photos of, such as, take a picture of two people – one wearing red and one wearing blue.

Floating Pumpkins – Beforehand blow up lots of orange balloons. Pass them out and let the children try to keep them in the air without touching the ground! Have some extra blown up in case some get popped right away.
Races and Relays – Classic sack races, three legged races and relay races are always fun.
Leaf Pile – Rake up a giant pile of leaves let the kids jump in and play in the leaves!
Leaf Treasure Hunt – Rake up a giant pile of leaves and hide small toys and objects in the pile. Let the kids jump in and see what they find.
Nature Hike – Not really part of the Thanksgiving party games list, but still fun to do…so we are including it! Send everyone outdoors to find interesting nature items – pinecones, berries, acorns, leaves, etc.
Pass the Apple – Just like Pass the Orange, but with an apple! Great Thanksgiving party games!
Pass the Pumpkin – Played just like Hot Potato but with a pumpkin!
Pinata – Select a pinata in a Thanksgiving or fall theme.
Pilgrim Relay – This is played just like the suitcase relay game but instead you’ll need a supply of Pilgrim type clothes – a hat, shirt and pants, or a dress, apron and hat.
Pin the ….nose on the scarecrow, nose on the pumpkin, stem on the pumpkin, hat on the pilgrim…
Printable Games – Oh so easy… Printable Thanksgiving Party Games

Pumpkin Bowling – Try to knock over some bowling pins (or plastic water bottles) by bowling with a pumpkin. Fun for fall or for Thanksgiving Party Games.
Pumpkin Golf – Hitting a golf ball into a hollowed out pumpkin makes for fun Thanksgiving party games!

Acorn, Acorn, Who’s Got the Acorn? – Played like Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button… but using an acorn. You could also use a small candy pumpkin, or pumpkin or turkey shaped button. Anything seasonal adds this to the list of fun Thanksgiving party games!
Pumpkin Race – You’ll need a pumpkin for each player. Players race on hands and knees while pushing pumpkin with their noses to the finish line.
Pumpkin Ring Toss – Toss a hula hoop or ring around a pumpkin.

Pumpkin Seed Spitting Contest – Need we say more?
Scarecrow Relay – This is played just like the suitcase relay game but instead you’ll need scarecrow clothes – a hat, shirt and pants or overalls.
Scavenger Hunt – Create a Thanksgiving themed scavenger hunt! Make a list of seasonal items and have everyone search!
Thanksgiving Bingo – One of those fun Thanksgiving party games that can be enjoyed by all ages. Create bingo cards using our Thanksgiving word list and play using beans, candy corn, pumpkin seeds, or candy pumpkins as markers.
Thanksgiving Jeopardy – Play Thanksgiving Jeopardy, with all Thanksgiving related questions and answers.
Thanksgiving Trivia – Who knows the most Thanksgiving Trivia?

Share your favorite
Thanksgiving Party Games and Thanksgiving Party Ideas!

Thanksgiving Twenty Questions – The person starting the game will think of the name of a famous person. The other guests can ask up to 20 “yes” or “no” questions to try to figure out the name of the famous person. Play continues until each person has had a turn to field twenty questions. The person who correctly guesses the most names is the winner.
Thanksgiving Who Am I? – Play the Who I Am? Game but with Thanksgiving words, characters and objects.
Thanksgiving Word Find – Give each player a piece of paper and pencil. Have them write the word “Thanksgiving” across the top, and then see how many words they can form from the letters in “Thanksgiving”.
Turkey Egg Hunt – This works basically like searching for Easter eggs. Great for Thanksgiving party games or with any holiday)! While the children are distracted, have a helper hide the objects they’ll need to find around your party site. If you hide them before the party they can sometimes be found and moved or played with, making them impossible to find when the time comes. Show the kids what the object that they will be looking for looks like and then have them go collecting! You might specify “one per kid”, or “three per kid”. That way one child won’t take a bunch, leaving none for another child to find. Always hide a few extra for those that are hard to find.
Turkey Hunt – Cut small turkeys` out of paper and hide around the party area. Let players find a set number of turkeys per person. You can also play with candy pumpkins, candy corn, etc.
Turkey Says – Played just like Simon Says, but do what the “Turkey” says! Fun Thanksgiving Party Games!

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Let’s Connect!

Go from Thanksgiving Party Games to These Idea Pages

“What is Thanksgiving?”
Thanksgiving Ideas

It’s time to play! When the family is gathered around the table at Thanksgiving, they might have something in mind besides turkey….they may be hungry for games! Games are a great way not only to have fun but also to include everyone in the family. These are some of our favs.

Table of Contents

Thanksgiving Charades

A Thanksgiving gathering wouldn’t be complete without an original and classic Thanksgiving Charades game. This game is a favorite for all Thanksgiving party games. Whether you’re playing family charades, charades for kids, or charades for adults, this Thanksgiving Charades game is sure to bring life to the party!

Photo: Play Party Plan

Thanksgiving Candy Dice Game

We love this idea of using candy for a fun dice game after the Thanksgiving meal. Head to Cupcake Diaries for the full instructions and printable you’ll need to play this game!

Photo: Cupcake Diaries Blog

Download Thanksgiving Word Search

Ready for a new twist? How about downloading (FREE) word searches for the kids? That will keep them busy – and they are a lot of fun too!

Photo: Parties and Recreation

The Gratitude Game

Since Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what you’re most grateful for, this gratitude game is right on theme. This twist on pick-up sticks can be recreated with your choice of each category.

Photo: Teach Beside Me

Pumpkin Toss

This fall DIY idea works for Thanksgiving and will also be fun at tailgates and indoor bashes all season long—and it’ll be just as fun next year too.

Photo: LollyJane.com

Pin the Feather on the Turkey

This is a Thanksgiving twist to the traditional classic. You can go either DIY or purchase the game outright. Either way, it will be tons of fun for the little ones.

Photo: Courtesy of Country Living

Thanksgiving Turkey Trivia

Here is another fun DIY project that will be a great way for the kiddos to pass the time after dinner. The trivia questions can be according to the ages you have at the gathering.

Photo: Courtesy of Country Living

Instead of the after Thanksgiving party being basically hours of football watching and napping, why not try out one of these fun Thanksgiving party games instead? These 30 great Thanksgiving games and activities are perfect for enjoying the rest of the day together.

This post contains affiliate links to products for your convenience. If you purchase via my links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Thanksgiving Day Games

If your family is anything like mine, your Thanksgiving looks like this.

Women cook dinner (hello best stuffing ever) while the men go play in the turkey bowl in the morning. Men return and help finish cooking and carve the turkey.

Everyone sits down and eats a delicious meal together. After dinner men go and watch football while women entertain the kids and chat. And lots of turkey induced naps following by some yummy pumpkin dessert like this pumpkin crunch cake.

Sound about right? Not if you play these Thanksgiving games!

I’ve been in charge of coming up with Thanksgiving games for my family’s Thanksgiving for the past who knows how many years. It’s fun but a little challenging to come up with enough games that we aren’t doing the same thing each year.

We always do one of these gift exchange games but other than that, I always try to pick something new!

And this list with over 30 awesome games is perfect for that. Enjoy!

Fun Thanksgiving Games for All Ages

I’ve put together a list of the best Thanksgiving games including Thanksgiving games for kids, Thanksgiving games for adults, and everyone in between! Pick and choose your favorites that work best for the group you’ll be spending Thanksgiving with!

Thanksgiving Games Index

I’ve split the Thanksgiving games into sections for you. Click on the link below to jump right to that section!

  • Thanksgiving Family Games (for the entire family)
  • Thanksgiving Games for Kids
  • Free Printable Thanksgiving Games
  • Outdoor Thanksgiving Party Games

Fun Thanksgiving Games for the Entire Family

These games work best if you have a large group of people. Most are ones you get up and move but some are ones that you sit down and play, kind of like my favorite birthday party games!

If you’re having a large group over for the holiday, these Thanksgiving games are your ticket!

Thanksgiving Family Feud

Play Family Feud at home with these fun Thanksgiving themed questions and answers along with instructions for how best to play at home! Get all the details for Holiday Family Feud (with free printable questions and answers) from Play Party Plan.

Thanksgiving Minute to Win It Games

These Thanksgiving minute to win it games from Play Party Plan will have your family up, moving, and laughing! There are over 15 games that can all be played in just a minute!

Not sure what minute to win it games are? Start with minute to win it games guide.

Skittles Gratitude Game

Print out this free printable gratitude Skittles game, open a pack of Skittles, and play with the entire family. In this fun game, the Skittles determine what you have to say you’re grateful! Great for kids and adults!

Have a big group who loves to play charades games? You’ll love this Thanksgiving charades game! Tons of Thanksgiving themed charades words to play the classic game. Or change things up and try one of these unique charades ideas instead!

Thanksgiving Pictionary

Would you rather draw than act? Then this Thanksgiving pictionary game is for you! Get the free printable cards and instructions for this classic drawing game with a holiday twist here.

Turkey Bowling

Bowl for turkeys in this fun Thanksgiving version of a family favorite! Get all the instructions for Turkey Bowling from Make and Takes including how to make the cutest turkey bowling pins!

If you know anything about me, it’s that I love the candy bar game and I love dice games. This Thanksgiving dice candy game from Cupcake Diairies seems to be a combination of my two favorite things and an absolute blast for the entire family!

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Thanksgiving Games for Kids

These Thanksgiving games are all about the little and not so little kids. Everything from a Thanksgiving version of pin the tail on a donkey to some more creative ones! This includes both printable and active games, just ones designed for kids! Perfect to go with one of these 12 gratitude activities.

Teach kids gratitude in a really fun way with the The Gratitude Game from Plan Party Plan. It’s great to play on Thanksgiving day or play it all Thanksgiving long to get in the season!

Thanksgiving Word Unscramble

See who can unscramble the words quickest in this Thanksgiving Word Scramble from Moms and Munchkins.

Roll a Turkey

Do your best to be the first one to Roll a Turkey from Teaching Heart Blog using just a dice! It’s just like this roll a rainbow or this roll a jack o lantern game but a Thanksgiving version.

Don’t Topple the Teepee

A hilarious game of balance and fun for kids and adults alike, Don’t Topple the Teepee from The Inspired Treehouse is great for developing motor skills!

Feed the Turkey

This game includes a cute bottle decorated like a turkey, some pom pom turkey food, and an activity that will have kids laughing as try to feed the turkey the fastest! Get the full instructions from Busy Toddler here.

Turkey Rocket Races

Turn turkeys into balloons then race them in these Turkey Rocket Races from Growing A Jeweled Rose.

Turkey Feathers

This game that features dice and rolling dice associated with turkey feathers sounds like so much fun! Turkey Feathers from The Idea Room is sure to be a hit for years to come!

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Free Printable Thanksgiving Games

These games are the simplest of the bunch – just download, print, and play. I like to do these if you have a family or group who is a little more laid back.

Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

Send kids scrambling around the house looking for clues with this Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt from Play Party Plan. Want other scavenger hunt ideas? Here are over 25!

Thanksgiving Bingo

Play a game of classic game of bingo with this free printable Thanksgiving Bingo from The Crafting Chicks.

Open Box Game

This I’m An Open Box Gratitude Game from Fly Trap One is 52 cards full of fun ways to show your gratitude. If you need more ways to show gratitude, we love making a gratitude jar every year!

Thanksgiving Price is Right

Remember the game show The Price is Right? Play this The Price is Right (for a Thanksgiving Dinner!) from Mika to see how well you can price a Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving Scattergories

Break out the popular game of Scattergories and replace the cards in the game with these Thanksgiving cards from Meredith Plays instead. Or forget the game and the dice and just write letters out to use instead.

Turkey Talk Activity

Get your family talking and moving with these fun printable cards with Turkey Talk and Turkey Tasks from Happy Home Fairy.

Thanksgiving Finish the Phrase Game

See if you can finish the Thanksgiving phrase in the same way as your partner to win points. Get the printable Thanksgiving phrase card here.

Pin the Hat on the Turkey

This Pin the Hat on the Turkey game is a great Thanksgiving version of the classic pin the tale on the donkey!

It may look like it’s for kids, but I’ve seen some grown adults get competitive during this pin a hat on the leprechaun game, so I can imagine this could get feisty with the right group!

Gobble Gobble Mad Libs

Fill in the blanks to make hilarious stories in this Gobble Gobble Mad Libs game!

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Outdoor Thanksgiving Party Games

These are the Thanksgiving games for families like my own that like to get outdoors after a big meal. These would be perfect for right before or right after the annual family football game!

You could also play a Thanksgiving version of any of these popular outdoor games if nothing on this list fits the bill!

Turkey Hunt

Send your family on a hunt to find turkeys hidden around the yard in this fun Turkey Hunt from Bloom

Thanksgiving Object Search

Get your family outside looking for Thanksgiving themed items in this Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt from The Taylor House. Even better if you print the Thanksgiving themed activity out on brown paper bags to collect their items!

Turkey Tag

A Thanksgiving spin on an old classic, Turkey Tag from Let’s Get Together will have players trying to tag one another with turkeys!

Shooting Turkeys

Practice Shooting Turkeys in this hilarious game from A Girl And a Glue Gun that consists of Nerf guns and homemade turkeys to shoot in your very own backyard!

Flying Turkeys

Another Nerf Gun games that kids and adults will both love, Flying Turkey from Frugal Fun 4 Boys will for sure keep you on target this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Bean Bag Toss

See who can score the most points as you toss a bean bag into this Thanksgiving bean bag game. It’s a fun way to get people outdoors without a lot of planning or setup!

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Other Great Party Games

  • Best adult games
  • Christmas party games
  • Party games for kids
  • Minute to win it games
  • Fall party games

Other Other Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

  • Thanksgiving crafts
  • Gratitude activities for kids
  • Thanksgiving place settings
  • Pumpkin cinnamon rolls
  • Fall party ideas (lots of great Thanksgiving ideas in this one!)

Party Ideas for Thanksgiving

Before you plan for a party, give your home a makeover, especially where the party is going to be held.

Clean out the dining table, add new table covers, change the cutlery, dishes. You can also change the window drapes, doormats, get the music in a more accessible fashion, clear up space if you plan to have a dance floor, plan out for sitting and standing spaces. You can also have the lawn readied, for people might use it for smoking. Avoid smoking indoors.

Definitely add some décor on the outside of the main door to bring in the mood. A simple bunch of cornucopias or pine cones, bound with red silk ribbon would do wonders. Check our decorations page for more ideas.

If you are having kids on the party, give special attention for their comfort. Have a separate table for them, with kids’ décor. Plan before hand on attending and accommodating them. If you can get someone dedicated to look after their chores, it would be great. More important, they should be left primarily on their own as long as they are safe, so that they can enjoy the party in their way.

If you are preparing vegetarian dishes, uncommon dishes or exotic dishes, then be sure to label them, with their name and primary ingredients. Now a days, many food are banned for some, especially for ailments like gout or high blood pressure. A simple labeling with a card will help relieve your guests from unpleasant surprises.

Organize games for your guests. If nothing, then at least have a card game with interesting prizes.
Kids can go online with these https://www.theholidayspot.com/thanksgiving/games/.
Check our Games ideas for thanksgiving too.

Plan for the leftovers. Get small foils bowls beforehand, so that you can pack the leftovers and give it to your guests when they leave, so that food is not wasted.

Now check out some of the most interesting themes of Thanksgiving parties:

  • Arrange an eventful party along with all your neighborhood friends. The party can start with snacks at one house. Arrangement of a quick dish at the next house would be perfect. Move your legs with the dancing tunes at the house. Mark the end of the party at your own house with lip-smacking desserts.
  • Ask everyone to assemble in the backwards party. Plan properly to write invitations in mirrored writing. Wear clothes to match the mood. Eating dessert is a must.
  • Include your pet in the party as well. Offer it a bone or anything it likes.
  • If you don’t have pet, then give treat to your favorite stuffed animal or doll. Ask their friends and their owners as chaperones.
  • It’s not a bad idea to hold a leap year party once every four years. Make arrangements and plan well for the party during the other three years.
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  • The theme of your party can be a hat. Inform all your friends to raid their families’ closets and attics or poke through local rummage sales for wild headgear.
  • Organize a crazy Hat party for all your near and dear ones. Make interesting hats and for that, collect cheap, white painter’s Hats. Accumulate fabric paints, colored glues, sequins and other exciting crafts.
  • Arrange a party and call it a “collection party”. Inform all your friends who have the same hobby to assemble at your home. Trade whatever you collect.
  • Organize a cleanup party. Lend a helping hand to all your friends in cleaning up dirty and messy rooms. Three or Four jobs have to be assigned to each one and notice who is quick enough to beat the clock. Savor the taste of a pizza at lunch at the last house.
  • A mystery guest party would be entertaining for all. Ask everyone to enter into the party with someone who is unknown to others. Everyone is encouraged to bring adults, sisters, brothers, neighbors, relatives or even pets.
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  • Make a day out of a swap party. Ask your guests to come with something which can be swapped with any other member present in the party. Swap a piece of cloth, a game, a book, a tape or anything else.
  • Organize an exclusive food party with mouthwatering dishes. Every guest has to bring one of his/her favorite dishes to set it out on a buffet table for all the guests to share.
  • Decor:
    Take 5 to 10 pieces of long strings to be hooked up above the walls across the room. Cut colored paper, preferably in different shades of green and yellow, in leafy shapes. Glue them in a row at equal distance along each string. Hook the leafy strings high enough on the walls so that none of them touches the head of even the tallest of your guests.
    To make tent like shapes you can use your stools, vinyl chairs, coat stands, lamp stands. Then place large spread sheets and bed covers to cover each up in a tent like shape. Tape the four loose ends of the sheet with the floor to give the inclines of the sheet a taut look.
    You can also hang masks of native Indians and masked heads of deer, turkeys, fowls along the walls of the room.
    Place, if you like, potted plants, preferably the bushy variety, in the corners of the party room or hall and also along the corridor. Lay tablecloth with nature motifs or with prints of Turkeys and geared heads of native Indians. Place a customized Thanksgiving note below the placemats on each of the tables. Go to Top
  • Party Games:
    Ask your guests to say what they are thankful for. For a twist ask each one to add to their reasons what their predecessor’s) said. You will be amazed to find how difficult it is to remember all of them at the end of one turn. The more the participants the more difficult it is to continue.
    You can make it more interesting by asking the participants to scribble down the stuff on a pad. Serve each a pencil and a pad. It will be funny to note how words get changed.
    Ask the children to go for a turkey hunt. Make one the hunter and get the child out of the room where a turkey, usually made up of paper, is kept hidden. For a better twist keep the hunter to be behind a closed door room. And ask the others each carrying a turkey to hide their turkeys at different parts of the house. Wait for a few minutes and when everyone’s ready ask the hunter to start searching.
    The paper turkey can be replaced by the kids themselves. Improvise the old hide-N-seek game to a ‘Turkey hunt’ by supplying a turkey mask to each of the children and asking each one to put it on their faces and hide themselves away in different places around the house.
    Go As you Like: Ask the guests to join a go-as-you-like contest. In it each of the participants are required to take the guise of any character from the 1st thanksgiving feast by the Pilgrims and the Indian invitees. While some will sport the guise of a native Indian some will pose themselves as the Pilgrims. This will help recreate the ambience of the first feast. Go to Top
  • Other Activities:
    If you have some more spare time before the dinner. Try this one out. Suggest that everyone write notes to family members and friends who couldn’t be with you on this night telling them why you’re grateful that they’re a part of your life and that you’re thinking of them. Have extra stationery, pens, and stamps so guests can join in. And if the writer allows, it can be read out.
  • Dance Swap :
    It’s best if you prepare ahead of time, asking the guests to bring CDs, tapes, or records of dance music of their choice. Allot each one a music from a special type so that there’s not much duplication. Break out the Charleston, the Stroll, the Electric Slide, or the Macarena. Ask a member of each generation teaches the rest of the family a dance from his or her youth. Go to Top

We are so thankful here at Distinctivs® for the year of growth we’ve had and can’t believe it’s already time to be thinking of Thanksgiving party ideas! So, to show our thanks, we’ve devised this list of fun ideas to help you plan a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family and friends.

If you are hosting the Thanksgiving party this year, make guests feel welcome before they even enter your home with a beauti-FALL-y decorated front porch!

Photo Credit: Christina’s Adventures

Don’t forget to dress up the front door with a pretty autumn-colored wreath.

Photo Credit: A Night Owl

Carry the decorations inside with this easy DIY leaf garland that’s also budget-friendly!

Photo Credit: Making Home Base

The majority of everyone’s time will be spent around the table enjoying delicious food, so don’t forget to decorate the table for the occasion!

We love all the pretty fall décor used on this beautiful wooden table.

Photo Credit: All Things Shabby and Beautiful

Or create some gorgeous lighting with these DIY apple votive centerpieces.

Photo Credit: Little Green Notebook

Don’t forget the little details! Finish your place settings in record time with this handy guide that shows how to create a formal or casual place setting for guests.

Photo Credit: Pulte Homes

All that cooking will surely have you thirsty, so take a little break. You’ve earned it!

Reach for a cold drink from this festive pumpkin ice bucket.

Photo Credit: Everyday Dishes

Get guests in the Thanksgiving spirit by decorating your wine bottles with these metallic foil wine bottle labels.

These elegant wine bottle labels also make for a stylish hostess gift if you’re not throwing the party this year—just add wine!

While the adults are mingling, keep the kids entertained at their table with these fun ideas!

Cover the kids’ table with craft paper and make these cute Pilgrim hat crayon holders ahead of time. The kids will love being able to color straight on the table!

Photo Credit: Crafting Chicks

Let the kids start a fun game of Thanksgiving Bingo—the adults will probably want to get in on this game, too!

Then, have everyone take turns playing The Gratitude Game to share what you’re all thankful for.

Photo Credit: Teach Beside Me

We also love the idea to display a pumpkin and have friends and family take turns writing what they’re thankful for this year. Use a decorative pumpkin instead of a real one for a nice keepsake you can save to use as a decoration year after year!

Photo Credit: Yellow Prairie Interiors

Now for the main attraction—the food! Feast your eyes on these mouthwatering dishes we’ve found to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal from start to finish. Click on each photo to view the original post and to take a peek at the recipe.

Thanksgiving Fruit Platter

Photo Credit: Not My Own

The Perfect Turkey

Photo Credit: Reynolds Kitchens

Crock Pot Maple Brown Sugar Ham

Photo Credit: Life in the Lofthouse

Southern Cornbread Dressing

Photo Credit: Add a Pinch

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Photo Credit: Taste of Home

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Photo Credit: Wine and Glue

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Photo Credit: Five Heart Home

Skinny Cheesy Potato Casserole

Photo Credit: Recipe Runner

Southern Style Collard Greens

Photo Credit: Simply Recipes

Best Ever Mac and Cheese

Photo Credit: Chef in Training

Cocoa Krispies Turkey Drumsticks

Photo Credit: Mommysavers

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Chocolate Lasagna

Photo Credit: Sweet Spicy Kitchen

Southern Pecan Pie

Photo Credit: The Happier Homemaker

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Best Places to Go for Thanksgiving

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Adam McCann, Financial Writer
Nov 6, 2019

Thanksgiving is one of America’s most beloved holidays, giving families a chance to share a meal together and reflect on all the things for which they are grateful. The first Thanksgiving dates back to Plymouth, MA in 1621, and each U.S. president declared a yearly celebration of the holiday until Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Thanksgiving into law permanently in 1941.

But even though Thanksgiving is centered on family and gratefulness, it’s still become a highly commercialized holiday. That’s apparent from the fact that the next day is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. A survey by the National Retail Federation also found that 34 million people planned to shop on Thanksgiving day in 2018. Luckily, though, it doesn’t cost too much to make a Thanksgiving feast for your family – around $50 on average for 10 people.

To help Americans find the best places to go for Thanksgiving without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities based on 20 key metrics. Our data set ranges from cost of Thanksgiving dinner and share of delayed flights to volunteer opportunities per capita and forecasted precipitation. Read on for the winners, additional insight from a panel of experts, and a full description of our methodology.

For fun and interesting facts about Turkey Day, check out WalletHub’s Thanksgiving Fun Facts Infographic.

Main Findings

Best Cities for Thanksgiving

Overall Rank
(1 = Best)

City

Total Score

‘Thanksgiving Celebrations & Traditions’ Rank

‘Affordability’ Rank

‘Safety & Accessibility’ Rank

‘Giving Thanks’ Rank

‘Thanksgiving Weather Forecast’ Rank

1 St. Paul, MN 65.35 6 78 7 6 11
2 Scottsdale, AZ 65.23 29 21 21 11 6
3 Virginia Beach, VA 64.07 20 17 6 33 55
4 Orlando, FL 62.57 1 20 72 52 44
5 Denver, CO 62.48 7 30 37 35 24
6 Gilbert, AZ 62.18 56 62 9 2 4
7 Louisville, KY 62.13 21 3 34 26 76
8 Raleigh, NC 61.81 4 15 56 34 55
9 Irvine, CA 60.57 9 89 1 39 12
10 Norfolk, VA 60.11 95 43 19 19 55
11 Chandler, AZ 59.98 34 60 22 21 4
12 Henderson, NV 59.95 84 44 14 59 2
13 Mesa, AZ 59.92 61 9 65 44 2
14 Minneapolis, MN 59.74 24 56 31 3 21
15 Plano, TX 59.26 36 37 2 13 85
16 Miami, FL 59.11 2 59 48 71 44
17 Lexington-Fayette, KY 59.10 91 6 17 91 76
18 Colorado Springs, CO 58.55 64 36 82 69 1
19 Fort Wayne, IN 58.48 22 26 33 85 63
20 Wichita, KS 57.88 90 28 40 89 54
21 Atlanta, GA 57.63 10 32 84 5 76
22 North Las Vegas, NV 57.46 100 51 52 51 8
23 El Paso, TX 57.16 80 71 4 99 31
24 Boise, ID 57.13 17 45 57 81 23
25 Anaheim, CA 56.81 18 73 18 48 24
26 Irving, TX 56.55 12 69 47 8 81
27 Chesapeake, VA 56.51 97 50 43 29 44
28 Laredo, TX 56.49 86 13 8 100 97
29 Omaha, NE 56.18 60 25 30 77 74
30 Las Vegas, NV 56.06 49 24 54 54 8
31 Washington, DC 56.05 14 74 51 4 44
32 San Diego, CA 55.82 31 68 15 70 8
33 Madison, WI 55.62 57 61 39 73 30
34 Portland, OR 55.04 46 64 36 12 29
35 Jersey City, NJ 54.98 8 77 44 43 60
36 New Orleans, LA 54.97 5 42 62 65 76
37 Austin, TX 54.72 55 5 38 64 91
38 Durham, NC 54.57 23 47 60 76 66
39 Phoenix, AZ 54.53 26 14 89 45 12
40 Aurora, CO 54.48 88 54 68 55 15
41 Birmingham, AL 53.84 73 7 78 18 83
42 Chicago, IL 53.80 27 33 53 57 38
43 St. Louis, MO 53.79 33 48 74 49 35
44 Chula Vista, CA 53.65 98 88 10 58 15
45 Pittsburgh, PA 53.60 13 63 13 16 95
46 Santa Ana, CA 53.42 43 84 20 47 12
47 New York, NY 53.34 3 95 27 42 60
48 Tucson, AZ 53.12 71 18 77 82 36
49 Fresno, CA 53.07 72 39 61 94 33
50 Oklahoma City, OK 52.71 89 4 70 60 53
51 Glendale, AZ 52.70 48 53 86 20 6
52 Cincinnati, OH 52.62 38 19 79 40 76
53 Long Beach, CA 52.47 50 67 23 56 24
54 Charlotte, NC 52.44 52 23 49 41 66
55 San Jose, CA 52.43 16 92 11 32 40
56 Houston, TX 52.36 44 2 91 50 89
57 Indianapolis, IN 52.29 69 11 58 38 66
58 Winston-Salem, NC 52.06 65 57 26 80 66
59 Reno, NV 51.94 75 76 16 92 28
60 Arlington, TX 51.75 32 66 28 23 89
61 Memphis, TN 51.68 79 27 90 7 66
62 Albuquerque, NM 51.63 15 41 99 87 15
63 Tampa, FL 51.62 42 46 81 37 44
64 Baltimore, MD 51.30 39 55 92 15 63
65 Lincoln, NE 51.18 92 85 3 86 74
66 Milwaukee, WI 51.16 76 29 97 30 52
67 Tulsa, OK 51.16 94 12 100 72 49
68 Seattle, WA 50.92 62 83 64 1 43
69 Los Angeles, CA 50.85 28 80 29 67 24
70 Dallas, TX 50.64 41 40 80 17 81
71 Corpus Christi, TX 50.62 96 22 41 97 97
72 Fort Worth, TX 50.49 77 8 55 36 85
73 St. Petersburg, FL 50.23 51 49 50 53 55
74 Hialeah, FL 49.91 66 91 12 61 36
75 Greensboro, NC 49.69 45 34 83 88 66
76 Boston, MA 49.65 54 72 24 14 93
77 Philadelphia, PA 49.03 40 87 42 46 50
78 Newark, NJ 48.88 37 82 69 28 60
79 Garland, TX 48.70 78 81 59 9 85
80 San Antonio, TX 48.64 63 1 71 66 92
81 Bakersfield, CA 48.61 47 58 96 96 20
82 Columbus, OH 48.52 81 10 63 68 85
83 Sacramento, CA 48.24 11 86 67 78 34
84 Riverside, CA 47.51 85 90 32 74 15
85 Buffalo, NY 47.37 30 30 25 83 100
86 Baton Rouge, LA 47.35 59 70 76 84 83
87 Lubbock, TX 47.26 68 75 75 98 65
88 San Francisco, CA 46.59 19 94 73 22 40
89 Nashville, TN 46.54 82 16 85 24 66
90 Toledo, OH 46.41 93 52 35 90 96
91 Honolulu, HI 45.94 83 99 5 79 21
92 San Bernardino, CA 45.70 99 93 66 63 15
93 Kansas City, MO 45.44 53 65 98 27 38
94 Jacksonville, FL 44.86 67 38 93 75 55
95 Detroit, MI 44.64 74 35 87 62 94
96 Cleveland, OH 42.24 25 79 94 25 99
97 Fremont, CA 41.53 35 100 45 31 51
98 Anchorage, AK 41.36 87 96 46 93 66
99 Oakland, CA 39.74 58 97 95 10 40
100 Stockton, CA 38.60 70 98 88 95 32

Ask the Experts

Thanksgiving is one of the most important U.S. holidays, but it requires a lot of planning and budgeting to go smoothly. For more insight on the holiday, WalletHub turned to a panel of experts. You can click on the experts below to read their bios and responses to the following key questions:

  1. What money-saving tips do you have for people planning to travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday?
  2. When evaluating the best cities for Thanksgiving celebrations, what are the top five indicators?
  3. What tips do you have for celebrating Thanksgiving on a budget?
  4. What are some of the big money wasters on Thanksgiving?
  5. Has the Thanksgiving Holiday become too commercialized in the past years?

Methodology

In order to determine the best places to go for Thanksgiving, WalletHub compared 100 of the most populated U.S. cities across five key dimensions: 1) Thanksgiving Celebrations & Traditions, 2) Affordability, 3) Safety & Accessibility, 4) Giving Thanks and 5) Thanksgiving Weather Forecast.

We evaluated those dimensions using 20 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for a Thanksgiving celebration. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.

Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded cities in the surrounding metro area.

Thanksgiving Celebrations & Traditions – Total Points: 25

  • Thanksgiving Events per Capita: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
    Note: Events include: parades, festivals, parties, galas and performances.
  • Turkey Trots per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
    Note: A turkey trot is a running race that usually occurs on or around Thanksgiving Day all over the United States. This tradition started as a means to combat the over “stuffed” feeling many Americans feel after gorging on a traditional Thanksgiving feast.
  • Pumpkin Patches per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
  • Google Search Interest for Thanksgiving Celebrations: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the real intent of the population to find information during the month of November about “Thanksgiving activities”, “Thanksgiving dinner”, “Thanksgiving traditions”, “Thanksgiving holiday”, and “Thanksgiving parade”.
  • Holiday Decoration Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)

Affordability – Total Points: 25

  • Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner: Triple Weight (~15.00 Points)
  • Prevalence of Affordable Restaurants with Ratings of 4.5+ Stars: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
  • Lowest Price for Three-Star Hotel Room for a Thanksgiving Holiday: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)

Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 20

  • Crime Rate: Double Weight (~5.00 Points)
  • Perception of Safety (Safety walking alone during daylight/night): Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
    Note: These data are based on perceptions of visitors of Numbeo website in the past 3 years. If the value is 0, it means it is perceived as very low, and if the value is 100, it means it is perceived as very high.
  • Pedestrian Fatalities per Capita: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • DUI-Related Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Crashes around Thanksgiving per Capita: Double Weight (~5.00 Points)
  • Share of Delayed Flights near Thanksgiving Holiday: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)
  • Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~2.50 Points)

Giving Thanks – Total Points: 15

  • Volunteer Opportunities per Capita: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the number of volunteer opportunities per 100,000 residents aged 16 years and older.
  • Volunteer Hours per Capita: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the number of volunteer hours per 100,000 residents aged 16 years and older.
  • Charity Organizations per Capita*: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)
  • Share of Income Donated to Charity: Full Weight (~3.75 Points)

Thanksgiving Weather Forecast – Total Points: 15

  • Thanksgiving Temperature vs. Average Temperature: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)
  • Forecasted Thanksgiving Precipitation: Full Weight (~7.50 Points)

Videos for News Use:

  • YouTube (for web embedding National)
  • Raw files (for editing into clips)

Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Corporation for National and Community Service, Google Ads, Eventbrite, Active Network, Yelp, Kayak, Numbeo, VolunteerMatch, Charity Navigator, Chronicle of Philanthropy and AccuWeather.

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9 Best Thanksgiving Getaways in New Jersey – Tripping.com

While the Jersey Shore is a popular vacation destination for summer travelers and spring breakers, you may not be quick to consider the Garden State among the possible locations for your Thanksgiving getaway. Think again. Cities and towns throughout the state celebrate Turkey Day with fun, festive events. Consider one of these nine locations for a New Jersey vacation rental and Thanksgiving getaway.

1. Red Bank, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/Jazz Guy

If you want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner at your vacation rental, plan to arrive in Red Bank the weekend before the holiday. Hit the Galleria Red Bank Farmers Market on Sunday to stock up on the freshest locally grown produce, and start your Christmas shopping early when you browse the crafts available from a number of vendors. The day after Thanksgiving, Santa arrives at the Red Bank train station to kick off the parade. When the parade reaches Broad Street, stick around for the Holiday Express Concert and watch the town’s holiday decorations light the streets.

2. Farmingdale, New Jersey

Located in Farmingdale, New Jersey, The Historic Village at Allaire gives you a glimpse into what life was like in the 1800s in this iron-producing town. The village features a bakery, general store, blacksmith shop, and more, and admission is free. Show up for the Early 19th Century Thanksgiving the weekend before the holiday, when reenactors show you what Thanksgiving was like two centuries ago, and visitors are invited to a special program at the village’s charming chapel. For a delicious Turkey Day dinner, take the family to Harvest Restaurant. For dessert, skip the pumpkin pie; try the restaurant’s Harvest Napoleon, stacked apple slices layered with cinnamon, pecans, and mascarpone cheese and drizzled with honey.

3. Cape May, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities

Cape May isn’t just for the summer months. This quaint and historic seaside community also knows how to do Thanksgiving the right way. Congress Hall offers two tempting options to fill your belly. Have a three-course dinner with turkey and all the sides as you sit by the fire in the Blue Pig Tavern, or head over to the Grand Ballroom for a buffet-style meal. The day after Thanksgiving, start your Christmas shopping at Cape May’s Holiday Crafts Fair at the Convention Hall. Take the kids to the Carol House Gallery to see the Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit, which features old toys, model trains, and other popular holiday items from years past.

Find the perfect New Jersey vacation rental on Tripping.com. Tripping.com is the world’s #1 vacation rental search engine with over 10 million properties!

4. Mullica Hill, New Jersey

Get everything you need to serve up a delectable Thanksgiving dinner when you visit the Amish Farmers Market in Mullica Hill on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Be sure to stick around after the holiday for Lights on Main, when the town’s Christmas tree illuminates Old Town Hall for the first time this year. Food vendors line the streets, Santa Claus poses for pictures with the kids, and even pets are welcome. Take a carriage ride, or browse in some of the shops that stay open late for the event.

5. Sea Isle City, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/Brian Holland

Celebrate your Thanksgiving by the beach with a getaway to Sea Isle City. The city’s Holiday Extravaganza falls over the two days after Thanksgiving, starting with a festive parade and also featuring a tree-lighting ceremony, caroling, ice skating, and visits with Santa for the kids in Excursion Park. Run, or walk, off those extra Thanksgiving pounds when you participate in the city’s Holiday Dash. The 1-mile event, hosted by the Cape May County Chiefs of Police, benefits the area’s toy and food drive, so bring along an item to donate.

6. West Orange, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/Kari

Delight the kids with a trip to the Turtle Back Zoo for the Holiday Lights Spectacular. Prepare to be dazzled as you roam the zoo and take in the animal- and winter-themed light displays. The event, which begins the weekend before Thanksgiving and is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, offers free admission for all, but consider bringing a new toy or non-perishable food item to donate. For a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, try The Manor or Essex Grand Buffet.

7. Princeton, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/atramos

Book a vacation rental in this upscale college town to soak in the charm of the community. You can’t go wrong with a traditional turkey dinner at Seasons 52. Enjoy your meal with a glass of wine or signature cocktail. On Friday evening, head downtown for the tree-lighting ceremony. See the town’s 65-foot tree illuminated with more than 32,000 lights, listen to the high school choir sing, and let the kids visit Santa. A special reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” makes the enchanted evening feel complete.

8. Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Source: Flickr/Martin Lewison

Make Storybook Land a part of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. This 20-acre amusement park opened in 1955, offering a magical experience for kids and adults alike. Beginning in mid-November, the park gets dressed up for the holiday season, donning more than one million twinkling lights. Visit Santa’s house, ride a roller coaster, or grab some delicious snacks. For Thanksgiving dinner, try the buffet at Legacy Restaurant.

9. Stockton, New Jersey

Whether you’re a lover of all things art or you’re just looking to pick up some unique holiday gifts, stay in Stockton. Along with fellow Hunterdon County towns Sergeantsville and Lambertville, Stockton hosts the Covered Bridge Artisans Annual Studio. Embark on a self-guided tour through six studios while you meet the artists and peruse their work. From blown glass to hand-woven baskets, this tour that takes place Thanksgiving weekend has something for everyone.

Ready to go? Check out these amazing New Jersey vacation rentals on Tripping.com.

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