20 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping on Thanksgiving

The following article is by Kristi Muse, our staff writer. She is a great freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and stay at home mom of two.

20 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping on ThanksgivingThanksgiving used to be a day set aside for family, food, and relaxing. Cook a big meal, eat dessert, watch sports, fall into a turkey-induced food coma was the order of the day for most families.

The craziness of holiday deals has forever changed the Thanksgiving holiday, though. Black Friday now starts on Thanksgiving, and more and more consumers are taking advantage of the Thanksgiving Day deals.

Instead of leaving home before you’ve even finished dessert to stand in frigidly cold queues, consider staying home and enjoying the time with family and friends. Here are 20 things to do instead of shopping in stores on Thanksgiving.

With your family

1) Savor the meal

Break out the old family recipes and cook from scratch. Slow cook your turkey in an outdoor oven. Don’t inhale your plate of food just so that you can get out and go shopping. Slow down and savor your Thanksgiving meal.

2) Organize a family sports game

Separate the family into teams and have a game of basketball or touch football. Kick soccer balls or toss a baseball. Enjoy having a day off to spend quality time with your family.

3) Family board game night

Dust off your board games and challenge the family to a game of Monopoly. Losers have to clean the kitchen.

4) Watch a holiday movie

Thanksgiving is a great time to break out the classics like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life.

5) Enjoy a quiet evening

Once the meal is done, the kitchen is clean, and the football games are over, spend a quiet evening relaxing by the fire. Enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie. Share your list of things you’re most grateful for with your family. Talk about old memories and just enjoy each other’s company.

With your community

6) Serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter

Thanksgiving is a great day to give back to the community. Sign up to spend part of your day serving Thanksgiving dinner to the less fortunate members of the community. Homeless shelters, half-way houses, and soup kitchens all could use the extra hand.

7) Offer to help with clean up

If cooking and serving aren’t really your thing, offer to use your Thanksgiving evening to clean up the dishes after the community meal has finished. The soup kitchens and homeless shelters especially always need help with pots and pans after holiday meals.

8) Go for a walk and pick up trash

If you go for an after-dinner walk, bring along a bag to collect trash on your way. You’ll be helping the community and burning off some calories.

9) Take a plate of food to the sick or homebound

Do you know of anyone in your town or neighborhood that is sick, home-bound, or without family? Wrap up a plate from your Thanksgiving meal to drop to them, and spend a few minutes talking with them.

10) Use the deals to buy holiday toys

Online shopping on Thanksgiving is a great way to be able to extend the value of your money and be able to buy more for the cause that you choose to donate to each year. Jump online between dinner and dessert to see if you can score any low-priced toys through the online deals. If you aren’t sure where to donate this year, consider Toys for Tots through the United States Marine Corps.

For yourself

11) Freeze leftovers into easy portion sizes

Take the time to divide the turkey leftovers into easy to use portion sizes. Fill containers for use later in soup, stir fry, casseroles, or salads.

12) Take a tryptophan nap

Enjoy the chemical effects of eating turkey and succumb to a much-needed tryptophan nap. Thanksgiving is one day a year that don’t have to feel guilty for nodding off.

13) Read a book

It’s a holiday! If you have nothing to do, spend some time catching up on the book you haven’t had time to read.

14) Spend time on your hobby

Do some yoga, work on stained glass, or do some painting. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, spend your free time on Thanksgiving taking care of your yourself and spending some time doing the things you love to do.

15) Relax

Whether it’s indulging in a glass of wine, soaking in a bath, or sitting by the fire, try to just let loose a little bit and spend the evening relaxing. There’s a busy season ahead, use the day to chill out a bit before the hustle and bustle starts.

For your finances

16) Start building your New Year budget

Look at your current budget and start working on your budget for the New Year. What should change? Is your current budget working effectively for income and expenses? Use your free day to start planning for the New Year.

17) Look back at your past year’s goals

Did you make goals or resolutions at the start of the year? Look back at that list and see what you can do to accomplish some of those goals before the year ends. You still have time to make those personal goals a reality!

18) Create your goals for the New Year

Start making your list of goals for the New Year. What do you hope to accomplish? What is your ultimate goal? Do you have business goals or career aspirations? Are you saving money for a down payment on a house? Try to imagine where you see yourself at the end of the next year, and plan out actionable steps for achieving those goals.

19) Buy a new book

If you see any online deals for reduced price books, stock up on those finance books you’ve had your eye on.

20) Use online deals for your business

Keep an eye on the online deals to see if there is anything that you could use for your business. Buying from home on Thanksgiving is a lot different than going out into the stores. If you see something at a great price that you can use for your business, grab it!

Focus on family

Is it really worth it to leave your family and the food behind to stand in line for hours in search of a good deal? Maybe. There are great deals available, and if you don’t have any other plans that day, why not, right? If you do go shopping on Thanksgiving, don’t be one of those people who are willing to trample other people just to get a good deal. Just try to remember the spirit of the holiday. Spend the time resting up for the busy holiday season ahead or giving back to your community. If you decide to stay home, you won’t be missing out. Have that piece of pie and enjoy a quiet talk by the fire instead.

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13 thoughts on “20 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping on Thanksgiving”

  1. It’s funny that you mention the holiday movie one. My family always has one of those two movies on during Thanksgiving Day. If I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure ABC or Lifetime or one of those channels has it on every year.

  2. I’m providing our department’s holiday coverage so I’ll be at work both days. Maybe management lets me knock off early for dinner, if it’s quite convenient. I volunteer for this most years because I prefer taking time off when everything is open. Anyway let’s not forget those who appreciate the opportunity to earn double time serving the Black Friday throngs.

    • Double time is nice. My husband has no choice but to work on Thanksgiving. While we always appreciate more money, I know he would like to occasionally have a holiday with his family.

  3. “20 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping”: #10 Use the deals to buy holiday toys; #19 Buy a new book; #20 Use online deals for your business…

    I think this should be renamed “17 Things You Can Do Instead of Shopping” 🙂

    • I don’t consider clicking a button from my phone or computer “shopping.” But sure, if you like, we can rename the article, “20 Things to Do instead of Leaving Your Home to Buy Things on Thanksgiving”

      • I guess I missed the point of the article. I thought the whole point was to show that there are better things to do other than spending money during the usual Thanksgiving madness. This paragraph set that expectation, at least for me: “Instead of leaving home before you’ve even finished dessert to stand in frigidly cold queues, consider staying home and enjoying the time with family and friends”.

  4. I didn’t know going out shopping on Thanksgiving was a “thing” but I guess Black Friday keeps coming earlier and earlier every years. I started seeing emails advertising Black Friday deals in October…

    Our Thanksgiving tradition is to host the 25-30 members of our immediate families in town at our house. Afterward, we clean up and are usually done by 3-4 pm. Maybe a nap in there somewhere. Then we put up the Christmas tree and decorate it.

    No time or energy for shopping, and we save tons of money too. 🙂

  5. Wow. What a great list. #3 about board games-I know a mom that attributes her 3 grown sons success from playing a lot of board games growing up.
    I would feel guilty going out shopping on a holiday. I feel bad/sorry for the workers who should never have to work a holiday.
    Ok, best leftover recipe ever-Thanksgiving leftover pie. Stuffing is the crust, chopped turkey and gravy the filling, mashed potatoes are the topping. Bake 350 degrees F, until bubbling, about 30 minutes. The best!

  6. Kristi, what a great list you’ve compiled! So many good ones.

    My favorites are:

    6) Serve Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter

    Giving back to others during this time is an enriching experience on both sides of the table.

    11) Freeze leftovers into easy portion sizes

    So smart. Manage your left over calories while you’re still stuffed!


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