After Thanksgiving dinner, many families usually head to the living room to relax and watch football games on television. Since quality time with friends and family can be hard to find these days, consider spending the time after dinner creating a new family tradition and making memories.
After you have finished eating the turkey this year, enjoy one of these fun activities together.
Have a Game Night
When you invite guests to your house for Thanksgiving this year, ask them to bring their favorite board game. Katie Roger's family always played games together after the dinner and says "Some of my favorite memories growing up are from these times."
Be sure that you have games on hand that are appropriate for all ages of kids that will be at your house, including teenagers and preschoolers. After dinner is cleaned up, pull out the games and help everyone find a game to play. You can also do a group game, such as Trivial Pursuit, Charades or Pictionary.
Carrie Schlegel remembers that "growing up we played touch football in the front yard after Thanksgiving dinner." Divide up your guests into teams, clearly communicate the rules and then have fun playing a friendly game of football together.
You could also play a group game of Hide and Seek or Kick-the-Can. If you have a large area, Capture the Flag can also be a lot of fun.
If you are feeling adventurous, head to a nearby or explore local hiking trails together. You can find hiking trails in your area on www.trails.com. You can also take a family walk or bike ride in your neighborhood. Be sure to have guests to bring walking shoes or bicycles when you invite them to dinner.
Create a Family Scrapbook
Have each adult and child bring a few of their favorite family pictures to Thanksgiving dinner. Provide some cardstock, pattern paper, glue sticks, sticker, pens and scissors. Have each person create a scrapbook page using the pictures and write their memories about the picture on the scrapbook page.
When everyone is finished, add the pages to an album. Be sure to include the date and artist on each scrapbook page. Next year, create more scrapbook pages and add to the album each year.
Write Thankful Letters
Have each guest think of one person that they are especially thankful for this year. Hand out pens and paper and encourage your guests to write the person a letter telling them why they are special.
You can include preschoolers in this activity by having them dictate the letter to an adult or an older child. When each person is done, give them an envelope for their letter and a stamp.
Decorate for the Holidays
Consider decorating for the holidays on Thanksgiving evening to include your guests in the festivities. Some families pick out their Christmas tree together on Thanksgiving to decorate later in the weekend. "For several years, we have gone to a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm to cut down our own tree. We also take our picture for our Christmas cards then, too" says Jim Thompson, father of two.
Another idea is to make holiday decorations together after dinner. Some simple ideas include paper chains, salt dough ornaments and bead ornaments. When coming up with a project, be sure to include young children who might want to participate and provide alternate crafts if you have guests who celebrate winter holidays other than Christmas.
Consider heading to a soup kitchen or food shelter together as a family to help serve meals to other people. Mary Ford is planning to start volunteering on Thanksgiving with her kids. "I want my kids to see the blessing they have while at the same time serving others that are not as fortunate" says Ford.
Another option is to use the time after Thanksgiving dinner for your family to help an elderly neighbor with a special project, such as painting or raking leaves. You can also use the holiday afternoon to organize your own food drive by having each guest to your house bring canned food. Have each guest collect food from their friends and neighbors before Thanksgiving. After dinner, you can take a field trip to the food pantry to deliver the food.
Have a Talent Show
When Carrie Schlegel was growing up, her family had a talent contest each year on Thanksgiving night. The kids and the grownups took turns performing talents, such as quoting Shakespeare, singing and playing the violin. Each year someone was awarded a trophy for the best performance. She looked forward to this tradition throughout the years and is planning on hosting her own family talent show this year.
When you invite guests to your Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to let them know ahead of time about the talent show. Encourage everyone, including children, to share their talents. Remind everyone to bring any props or costumes they will need for their performance.
Whatever you do with this down time on Thanksgiving, be sure that you spend the time with your family and friends. In addition to have a good time together, you may find yourself starting traditions that everyone looks forward to throughout the year.
Jennifer Gregory is a mom of two kids and a featured blogger at www.TriangleMom2Mom.com. Her family enjoys playing football in the yard each Thanksgiving and her son has been planning for this year's game for months.