3 Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Ideas You Can Use This Year

Toss this traditional Thanksgiving scene out the window

Who can resist the splendor of Thanksgiving?

It’s a magical time when we come together with family and friends (more on the latter in a second!) to commune over mountains of mouth-watering deliciousness and, well, give thanks for the year that was…

You might be thinking that sounds a little too soon. Heck, it’s still summer! Why are we already talking about Thanksgiving?! Like it or not, summer is on the way out, and the holidays are just around the corner.

And Thanksgiving, oftentimes is a stressful (if not contentious) affair among families, is best approached with kid gloves as the occasion draws near.

But… it’s easy to see the holiday objectively if we start thinking about Thanksgiving now. We can even have some fun with it, which is why I got to thinking about some creative, non-traditional ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. Keeping those thoughts to myself is no fun. So, in the Thanksgiving spirit of sharing, I offer three suggestions to you right now.

Host a Friendsgiving 

Friends are the family we choose (so says the old expression). And if you’re looking to balance out the family drama that comes with a traditional Thanksgiving, why not host a Friendsgiving first?

Friendsgiving (made famous from Seinfeld) is exactly like it sounds—a Thanksgiving-ish party with friends! It has all the food, all the drinks, all the games, all the football, and all the fun, absent Grandma asking when you’re getting married or Uncle Larry’s relentless dad jokes.

The concept of Friendsgiving is rather open-ended, which means you have a lot of flexibility in personalizing a pre-Thanksgiving celebration of friendship. Go crazy with the menu, buy the good champagne, and plan an afternoon of doing whatever you and your squad like doing most.

If you’re old enough to remember the Rachel haircut craze, then you may know the Friendsgiving concept also appears in the first Thanksgiving episode of Friends in 1994. The six friends with nowhere to go for the holiday, gathered at Monica’s apartment for a festive evening of food and drinks, famously toasting to “a crappy New Year!” Personally, TOW the Football is my favorite of their classic Turkey episodes.

And fun fact 2.0: The term “Friendsgiving” first circulated on social media in 2007. Friendsgiving is even on Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching” list for possible entry into their dictionary. Pretty cool, huh?

Check out these Friendsgiving tablescape ideas from FTD Flowers that your BFFs won't forget.

Ditch the Turkey and Stuffing and Go Chinese...or Italian...or Moroccan...or Vegan...or Whatever!

If you don’t eat turkey, mashed potatoes, and the rest of the traditional food crew on Thanksgiving, will Pilgrims be rolling over in their graves? 

Of course not! 

There’s no law that says your Thanksgiving menu must include the classics. Mix things up with the cuisine you’d rather be eating anyway. Or go out on a limb and use Thanksgiving as a chance to try dishes you’ve never had before. 

You can also leave the meal prep to someone else and have your ‘Giving gang convene at a favorite restaurant. Sure, some restaurants close for the holiday to give their staff time with family, as tradition dictates. But as Black Friday shopping continues to encroach on Thanksgiving day proper, an increasing number of eateries stay open. 

Whatever approach you choose to enjoy a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal will be memorable. Do you recall the turkey or amazing sides you enjoyed at Thanksgiving dinner three years ago? Probably not. 

Will you always remember the Thanksgiving you tried Mrouzia or went to that amazing sushi bar across town? Definitely. 

Why not celebrate Thanksgiving here instead of at home?

Just Plain Get Out of Dodge

I don’t mean you should pack your bags and trudge off to a relative’s house for Turkey Day. We’re talking vacation

That’s right. You have the complete freedom to plan a vacation over Thanksgiving. You always did, but perhaps the notion never crossed your mind. Thankfully, I’m here to put the travel bug in your ear.

Millions of people are traveling for Thanksgiving anyway. No one says you can’t be among the crowd. The idea isn’t so bad when you’re en route to a dream destination rather than Crazy Cousin Carl’s cramped duplex for the ninth year in a row. 

If you live in the northern states, heading south around Thanksgiving probably sounds incredible—and it could be your reality when you think outside the box.

So, any takers on Vegas?

These are just a few ways to carve a new Thanksgiving experience this year instead of carving the turkey. What will you be doing to buck tradition come November? Happy Holidays!

Three Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Ideas

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