For the past several years, I've had an ongoing, albeit simple, Thanksgiving tradition with my father. We drink cups of coffee together, lace up our walking shoes, and go for a morning stroll overlooking the surf. I grew up near the beach in Los Angeles, so Thanksgiving mornings often resemble summer more than fall—last year it was 80 degrees, and dozens of surfers were out on the waves. But my dad and I use this time to catch up, enjoy some fresh air, and get some exercise before a day of eating. It's also fun to trick him into thinking the ocean water isn't as cold as it is. He always falls for it.
Thanksgiving is a day of routines, of course, and they mostly revolve around food. We all anticipate the same comforting heaps of sides and the golden turkey, as well as the cuts of ham and vat of gravy, but the rest of the day is often left open. This year, plan to create another tradition or two for your family to celebrate instead of putting all the pressure of the day's success on the dining table. Below, 30 ideas for you to consider—from an early morning turkey trot to an afternoon touch football game to an evening wearing matching pajamas—so that your routines extend past the expected menu.
Organize the Kitchen
Do you ever watch cooking shows and notice that the hosts always have the ingredients they need within reach? Make the chef's duties easier by organizing everything that's needed for the feast ahead of time.
This will also give you a chance to notice what's missing in case you need to make a last-minute grocery store run.
Coach a Game
Once the early afternoon is underway, the chef is likely scrambling to get things finished. Make sure guests who want to watch football are taken care of—with drinks and snacks, of course—and then lead others to play a game outside and away from the kitchen. That can be a simple relay race, hide-and-go-seek, touch football, or this simple DIY washer game from Sugar & Cloth.
Whether you pass out seasonal beers or flavorful mocktails, make sure everyone has a drink waiting for them before dinner.
Create a Buffet Line Based on Birthday Months
Now that the turkey is on display and the sides are ready to go, it's time to do what this holiday is all about: chow down. But instead of rushing to the front of the line, ask everyone to line up according to their birthday month. Flip a coin to see if you'll go forward from January or backward from December.
Have Conversation Starters Ready
Nothing is worse than eating in an awkward silence, so be sure to have some lighthearted conversation starters ready for when everyone starts slowing down.
You know, those alcoholic beverages that help you digest? Thanksgiving is as good a time as ever to try one—from brandy to Jägermeister.