For many of us, the upcoming Thanksgiving break is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. But what are you going to do with all the days off? There’s only so much stuffing you can eat and only so much holiday shopping a family can endure before the fatigue sets in.
So here are 15 things to do over Thanksgiving break that’ll get you moving, use your creativity, and maybe show some gratitude. Choose a few to do over the break and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Make Thanksgiving Day fancy
Not having family over and making it an intimate affair? Make the day special by changing up the menu. At my house, we’re forgoing the turkey in favor of a simple roast chicken, but my kids and husband do insist on cranberry sauce and “too much pie.” But even though you aren’t doing a daylong cook-fest (takeout, anyone?) you can still make the meal special. Have your kids make decorations for the table. Dress up for the family Zoom call in party clothes (at least from the waist up.) Bring out the good napkins and fold them up a special way. It’ll make all that pie taste better.
[Related: Places to get a sit-down or takeout Thanksgiving dinner ]
Make holiday cards and gifts
Get a head start on your holiday mailing. If your loved ones are in another country, even in British Columbia, everything should be in the mail by December 6. Within the U.S., it’s December 17. So put your kids to work making cards and writing notes. Your family will love them!
November 25 is Native American Heritage Day
Take some time to learn about local Indigenous People. A great place to start: the Hibulb Cultural Center website. Particularly good for kids: the stories in the “Storytelling” section, and the “History minute” videos.
[ Related: This Thanksgiving, educate your family about Native history and culture ]
Many of our holiday dinners took place outside during COVID times. With the arrival of the usual winter viruses as well as concerns about a COVID resurgence, you might want to get together with your neighbors or extended family to share in an outdoor potluck. On your block travel from driveway to driveway and break some bread. You bring your own main dish. One household hosts appetizers, another hosts a couple of sides, and another supplies dessert. Eat at tables set up in a driveway or get together at a park picnic shelter.
Go for a walk
You can do it in almost any weather (I draw the line at freezing rain, particularly if sideways), it’s simple, safe, and you can go different places depending on the time you have and the enthusiasm of your walking buddies. Here are some places to try:
3 magnificent fall hikes on the Eastside
5 great trails for a fall-winter family hike, in and near Seattle
5 walks for Seattle-area families on wet winter days
Visit a state park
Here are some lovely ones nearby. Bonus: Normally, you need to buy a Discover Pass but Friday, Nov. 25 is a free day.
When it’s too cold and dark to go outside, kids still need to get their wiggles out. 14 ways to get kids moving when you’re stuck indoors.
Play board games and card games
Here are some great ones to try:
10 games to play with your family during COVID-19 times (and after)
11 cool games to play with your kids during coronavirus quarantine
Remembering what you are thankful for is a documented way to boost mental health. Here’s a list of gratitude-boosting activities for kids.
Go see the spawning salmon at Carkeek Park. Or stop by the body of water nearest you and watch the ducks hanging out there for the winter. Examine the fall profusion of mushrooms. Or spend some creative hours with playthings from nature.
You could try to make one a lion pillow or a panda puppet or these projects from the book “Girls who Build.”
Bake something simple
Kids love measuring, stirring, rolling dough, spraying pans, shaping cookies, all the steps that go into making a baked treat. If only they were as keen on cleaning up …
Go to the zoo
The Woodland Park Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Cougar Mountain Zoo are all open. You could even go at night. The Woodland Park Zoo is open for “WildLanterns” while Point Defiance has its Zoolights.
Go to the snow
Scheme about upcoming frolics on snow-covered mountains. Crystal Mountain, usually the first local ski area to get going, plans to open over Thanksgiving break. For information about ski lift openings go to: Crystal, White Pass, Snoqualmie, Stevens, Mt. Baker. Bundle up and hit the slopes over the holidays.
Plan future adventures
It’s time to plan summer camping reservations, if you are intent on going to a popular spot, such as one of these:
7 kid-friendly campgrounds that get booked up fast
Want to camp at one of these Washington State Parks next summer? Reserve your spot soon!
Updated November 2022