10 Ways to Have Happy Holidays—No Eating Required


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  78 comments   :  17,572 Views

Whenever you hear the word Thanksgiving, what is the first image you picture? The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Your guests sitting around the T.V. watching the football game? For many of us, it is a time for family and friends to sit around a festively dressed table with a nice roasted turkey sitting in the middle with lots of side dishes scattered around. It is a day we give thanks, but it is also a day many of us will eat a hearty meal of turkey, fixings, and lots of yummy, tasty desserts.

But what if you had a few fun-filled activities to participate in that did not involve food preparation and eating, would that help make the holiday a little less stressed about being around all that food?

Below is a list of a few fun-filled activities, both indoors and out that may inspire you and your family to get up and move, while taking the focus off of the food.

  1. Take part in your local Turkey Trot or Thanksgiving Day run- Many cities across the country host an early morning run/walk event for all fitness levels. Check Active.com or visit your local running specialty store to see if they may know of an event in your area.

  2. Take a walk with family and friends- If your city doesn't hold a Turkey Trot event, how about holding your own with family members? Walking is a great way to begin the day and get moving.

  3. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or nursing home- With many people out of work and others living on a limited income, soup kitchens are expected to overflowing with people seeking a hot meal this Thanksgiving Day. What better way than to spend a couple hours donating your time helping others.

  4. Have a Wii-Fit or Dance, Dance Revolution tournament- Not only are you going to have a great time with family and friends, but you will be sneaking in some exercise while having fun, too.

  5. Take a family photo- For many Thanksgiving is the ideal time to take the yearly family photo. The weather in most parts of the country is still warm enough to go outside to take a photo of the family amid the beautiful fall skies.

  6. Hold a Thanksgiving Day scavenger hunt -Who doesn't like going on a scavenger hunt? Come up with a list of items such as acorns, oak leaves, pumpkins, pine cones, even objects you have hidden ahead of time for your guests to find. Whoever finds all the objects on their list first has a special seat at the table.

  7. Play a friendly game of flag football, soccer or even basketball- For many this is a family tradition that is just as important as the Thanksgiving feast itself. Not only do we get in some nice activity, it gets your guests out of the house while enjoying the crisp fall temperatures.

  8. Play a fun game of charades- Try choosing holiday themed answers such as pilgrims, The Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, Turkey, etc. Here is a link how to play charades for those who may not know how.

  9. Play board games such as Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary- Break up into teams and have a friendly competition. Just imagine the fun to be shared as new family traditions are being made.

  10. Share family stories- Thanksgiving is a great time to sit down and listen to stories from our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, etc. One of the biggest regrets I have is not sitting down with my Grandparents and listening to their childhood tales. This is a great way for us to connect to our past.
These are just a few ideas I have, but I do hope you will share a few of your own family traditions and ideas that may help others take the focus off the food and place it on giving thanks for sharing a wonderful day with family and friends.


What are some of your non-food activities you and your family participate in? Is there a special activity that you would like to do this Thanksgiving that you have never done before?

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    My favorite activity...laughing with family members. Something, as a adults, we do not get enough of. - 11/28/2009   12:38:34 PM
  • 77
    I am cooking the Thanksgiving dinner for my family...I'm sure I'll burn some calories working in the kitchen and I'm looking forward to serving them a wonderful meal and spending time with each one of them. HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE! - 11/24/2009   12:36:34 PM
  • 76
    We're to busy with cooking, family, friends and visiting to do any exercise that day. We don't take a day off from eating right but we do take a exercise off day. - 11/24/2009   11:32:52 AM
    Happy Thanksgiving! - 11/24/2009   11:23:24 AM
  • 74
    Dear friend you look awesome glad to hear the 5K went well. Next year I would love ot run with you on the Turkey Trot. - 11/24/2009   10:20:30 AM
  • 73
    On Thanksgiving, I usually just make sure I am around family and/or people for dinner and other festivities I don't have a tradition, like the ones you mentioned, but this past Saturday was the 5K Turkey Trot in my city. This was only my 2nd 5K, so it was interesting to learn that Turkey Trot runs are held nationwide.
    This year on Thanksgiving, my tentative plan is to go to the gym and do the Turkey blast session they are having in the morning. - 11/24/2009   12:04:18 AM
  • 72
    I love starting my Turkey Day with a 5 mile Turkey Trot in Austin, TX. Then it's off to my grandma's to enjoy the day with the entire family. After we've eaten lunch, everyone just sits around talking and continuing to munch/eat/snack so my mom and I usually go for a walk around the neighborhood. We're only there once a year so it's nice to enjoy the new scenery as we walk around. Happy Thanksgiving! - 11/23/2009   10:34:22 PM
  • 71
    Butternut squash in the crockpot.. Then off to help at the shelter! - 11/23/2009   9:27:34 PM
  • 70
    Nancy, Who are those two sisters in that picture? ;-)

    I'll be starting the day with some Sparkfriends running the Flying Feather in Dublin, Ohio.
    Happy Thanksgiving! - 11/23/2009   8:33:01 PM
    I keep telling myself it's just another Thursday, but with family and friends. Just another Thursday, just another day. I'll have a plan and everything will be like all other Thursdays. Even my gym is open for 8 hours, so no excuses. Happy Thursday everybody! - 11/23/2009   5:41:18 PM
  • KBLACK2008
    Happy Thanksgiving - 11/23/2009   2:41:03 PM
  • 67
    Really like the idea of board games. They're a lot of fun. - 11/23/2009   1:33:06 PM
    Sounds like a plan - 11/23/2009   1:20:58 PM
  • 65
    Every year since about 1980, my family gets up on Thanksgiving morning, gets the bird in the oven, and then goes for a walk. For many years, it was a way to connect with friends prior to visiting family for the actual Thanksgiving Day meal. We would meet at one family's house, walk, and then have breakfast together. Our turkey would be served late in the afternoon because of the big brunch after the walk! Now, my parents host the walk, and we bring our kids and dogs and the whole family enjoys it. We're not so committed to a big brunch afterwards, because we know the big meal is at midday, but that works out just fine.

    Last year, we brought our Wii to my parents' house, but this year the Wii is on the fritz (Santa is bringing a new one for Christmas). But last year we had a great time playing tennis, bowling, and golf! My parents got a kick out of using the game, and it was a fun way for the family to hang out together. - 11/23/2009   12:50:21 PM
  • 64

    We like to play Cranium. It's a board game that combines trivia, acting, charades and pictionary that is played in teams. I'm going to try to keep snacks and food AWAY from the game table, because grazing while you wait your turn can be a danger. Cranium is funny and exciting, and everyone can be involved even when it's not your turn so that's a good game that'll keep everyone's mind off of food. - 11/23/2009   12:15:18 PM
  • 63
    What does my family do ? What it does best, talk about when are we eating dinner ! It happens every year. We always say we're eating at X and we end up eating at least a good 2 hours later. LOL !!! Then the grandparents complain that they can't eat dinner because they ate too many chips and appetizers. ;)

    So, we talk and we eat ! And then the boys go off to watch the various football games. Oh and I'll be walking around taking pictures.

    - 11/23/2009   11:57:08 AM
    Our local club, 24-Hour Fitness, stays open until 2pm. We both will be there! It's a great way to feel better about the meal that is to come, even if we intend to eat rationally. - 11/23/2009   10:48:21 AM
    Nancy, These are really great ideas! Thanks for sharing.
    Stepf - 11/23/2009   10:41:46 AM
  • 60
    We ran, walked, and "trotted" at our Turkey Trot last year. We loved it, although my daughter was upset we (myself & the old man) beat her! I would like to do it again, but I have to work this year! - 11/23/2009   10:11:46 AM
  • 59
    Great ideas, Nancy! I did a Turkey Trot last year, and it was great.

    I know many people who go out shopping on Black Friday as part of their holiday festivities. Probably not for the faint hearted (like me), but I'm sure it's fun and some great walking exercise if you can tolerate the crowds. - 11/23/2009   9:55:11 AM
  • 58
    Great ideas. I had planned on a 5k run on Thankshiving morning, but I ended up having to work so maybe next year. . The walk, & the wii sound good. And Ive always wanted to volunteer in a soup kitchen like my freind Renee does. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone! - 11/23/2009   9:17:22 AM
  • 57
    When we had big family get-togethers, we'd have basketball games--high school people against the "old" folks. Ahem. "Age and treachery will win over youth and enthusiasm every time." TRUE. LOL! Sometimes we'd take walks or play softball or Dance Dance Revolution. Right now, because of my parents' age and condition, we don't do anything active any more, but I usually go for a run early in the morning, or in the evening. During Thanksgiving dinner, we talk like mad, though, and everybody reconnects. - 11/23/2009   8:05:01 AM
    I started running the turkey day 5k about 7 yrs ago.
    Medical issues took me out 5 yrs ago, and haven't been able to participate since.
    NOw I signed up this year, but found out a few weeks ago that my metatarsal isnt healed yet.
    I am going to walk it. If I only make it a mile or 2, I will feel great, as I am back in it!! - 11/23/2009   6:28:55 AM
    This year, instead of a Christmas cookie exchange with my Mom and Sisters (4 of them), we decided to do a Christmas Craft Day with the kids. We are each bringing a craft to work on with the kids and will go home with wonderful gifts. We will still have our holiday beverages and one type of cookie, but that is it and none to sit around the house tempting us! New and Wonderful tradition! - 11/23/2009   5:42:02 AM
  • 54
    my daughters and I are going for a nice run while the bird is in the oven! - 11/23/2009   2:07:44 AM
  • 53
    How festive this blog is:)
    I plan on beginning my Thanksgiving Day as I do every day, with a walk. I am going to suggest charades at our family gathering. It seems like sooo much fun! - 11/22/2009   11:18:40 PM
  • 52
    The ideas are great. I would add, a puzzel if the weather is bad. I loved the idea of making quilts for people with family helping. - 11/22/2009   11:06:42 PM
  • 51
    I love the idea of the scavenger hunt for everyone involved! Think I'll try that this year! - 11/22/2009   10:37:58 PM
  • 50
    This year I will be walking the 10K Turkey trot in Houston. I have walked many 5K events, but this will be the first time that I am going to attempt a 10K. I got the idea a month ago when my Spark team suggested it.

    I have been unable to increase my walking times, so I may be the last person. My goal is to finish! - 11/22/2009   10:20:03 PM
  • 49
    I am running a 5 mile Turkey Trot with SNOW in the forecast!!! Oh boy!!!!!! Don't care as I INTEND on RUNNING!!!!!! - 11/22/2009   8:51:52 PM
  • 48
    Wonderful ideas! Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving! - 11/22/2009   8:06:28 PM
    I think taking the emphasis off food is a grand idea and doing other things, especially active ones, is also grand. Having said that, I still want my Thanksgiving dinner, although I have learned to cut down on fat and calories--and my portions--but that's one day of the year I choose my traditional comfort foods. - 11/22/2009   7:54:56 PM
  • 46
    we have a kid's carnival... each set of parents and grandparents comes up with a carnival-type activity (bean bag toss, bowling, face painting, etc.) and then the grandkids spend the afternoon wandering from activity to activity and the adults get to see the grandkids thoroughly enjoying themselves. best of all... no calories in!! - 11/22/2009   7:06:46 PM
  • 45
    I will have to try some of these ideas this year! - 11/22/2009   5:53:41 PM
  • 44
    After the big meal our family always gets involved in games. We love the board games, card games, and this year we will also use Wii. Hope everyone enjoys a HEALTHY Thanksgiving. - 11/22/2009   5:51:00 PM
  • 43
    Thanks for the great ideas. Trying to connect with a daughter and family who have been estranged from us for three years and will try to use some of the ideas to help open lines of communications again. Holidays can be a very hard time for our children to be all in the same home so we have one family at a time as my their father has Alzheimers and it is much easier on him with not such a large group of people all talking at once. May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful and count your blessings one day at a time. - 11/22/2009   5:37:59 PM
  • 42
    What fun ideas. Too bad I can't stand to be in the same room with my siblings. I can see having several of the suggestions to entertain friends when I finally get into my own house. - 11/22/2009   4:55:49 PM
  • 41
    HAPPY THANKSGIVING! - 11/22/2009   4:52:12 PM
    Great suggestions! Thanks for the reminders. - 11/22/2009   3:32:39 PM
  • 39
    I'm running a 10k Turkey Trot in the morning, and will go for a walk in the evening after eating and cleanup is done. - 11/22/2009   2:14:41 PM
  • 38
    This year in particular, we are going with our neighbors to their beach house to spend thanksgiving. This should be a good time for us. Like most, we can't afford to go on too many trips. - 11/22/2009   1:49:57 PM
  • 37
    At our house the main people that are there are my Mother, Sister, her two daughters, and me. I make blankets for Project Linus during the year, but they are harder to tie without the embroidery hoops or quilt frames. (They are baby quilts). What we did on Thanksgiving year before last was all of us worked together and tied all the blankets and then I did the edges and they were ready to turn in for the babies by Christmas. It was a lot of fun for all of us to do together.

    Last year, it was a lot like what you were saying about talking about stories of the past, my Mother got out some older pictures for everyone that was there. I had scrapbook paper, scissors, stickers, stamps and things we could use and I donated them, my sister had some scrapbook supplies she donated. We each made a scrapbook page about us. That was some fun too. it would be good to start when kids were pretty little and do that once a year and keep the books for them until they finished school.

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING! - 11/22/2009   1:38:55 PM
  • 36
    Most of my family lives on the East coast and I'm stuck working during the actually holiday, so Thanksgiving will just be another normal day here at the National Park where I live.

    But I will be eating sweet potatoes & pumpkin pie for lunch before I go into work...will just walk it off afterwards. - 11/22/2009   1:10:04 PM
    I never thought of doing something Thanksgiving Morning...like a run or walk. I'm going to research and do one in my area. I always love Thanksgiving morning...it's magical. Waking up to delicious smells, and anticipating all the company, eating, and goodtimes that are only hours away :) - 11/22/2009   12:57:52 PM
  • 34
    I've signed up to run a local 10k Turkey Trot with my sister, though I could swear she said it was a 10m run.

    I'm not much a runner these days and am doing it with her for moral support and to see how well I can keep both us to a run/walk strategy. - 11/22/2009   12:09:20 PM
  • 33
    Many of these can be listed to help reduce the stress of Christmas as well.
    Great ideas!
    Frances - 11/22/2009   12:05:12 PM
  • 32
    We don't ever have time on the actual holiday to work out. My husband and I have four sets of family to hit so the day is spent in the car and eating. But we gym it up the days before and the days after. =) - 11/22/2009   11:23:32 AM
  • 31
    Great ideas everyone and thank you Nancy for another fabulous blog ! I am going to try to get my family to join me in some kind of movement this year ! - 11/22/2009   11:23:04 AM
  • 30
    Good Ideas, we will try some of theses ideas for Turkey day day this year. Thanks. - 11/22/2009   10:46:19 AM
  • 29
    Great ideas! We like to have a Wii bowling tournament! It is so fun! - 11/22/2009   9:49:02 AM

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