For some people, Thanksgiving is as fun as attending a four-day-long paint drying convention. Maybe they despise the work (and pressure) of having to prepare the perfect meal. Maybe they dread the thought of hearing their uncles argue endlessly about things they have no clue about. Maybe they just want something more than the anticlimactic comas everyone slips into after the big dinner. Whatever the case may be, the Thanksgiving holiday is a prime opportunity for Adultitis to take over and ruin the party.
But have no fear, there are a number of ways to bring a little childlike fun into this classic holiday. With a small amount of effort and a willingness to be a little silly, you can transform your family’s Thanksgiving into something truly remarkable.
- Name That Bird
Speaking of silliness, be sure to name your turkey (Tom is not allowed!). This is a playful way to add some fun throughout the preparation, as you refer to the bird by his/her given name. Middle names are also encouraged. If you have a super large family, have a small group come up with a list of five suggested names. Put them on a piece of paper and invite all arriving guests to put a tally mark next to his/her favorite, to make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute. Take it to another level by sharing anecdotes about your turkey’s life. Create a worthy legend that ensures Magnus T. Wrigglefeather was not sacrificed in vain.
- Be A Fashionista
Kids love to dress up according to a theme. Clothes are an easy way to express enthusiasm for the moment at hand. If you’re on the conservative side, now’s the time to splurge on those 99-cent turkey socks or dig through the closet to find autumn-colored clothes. On the other end of the spectrum, you could pick up a turkey hat or rent a pilgrim costume. Don’t miss the chance to show your true colors. Could it get a bit ridiculous? You betcha. Would you arriving as Squanto be a memory your family will talk about for years to come? Guaranteed.
- Kitchen Cooperation
Don’t leave the cook out on an island. Seize the opportunity to build relationships by cooking together. Some of the best conversations and memories are made while stirring gravy and mashing potatoes. If there are kids in the mix, invite them to learn some new cooking techniques and have fun letting them put their spin on them. Above all, don’t worry about everything having to be perfect. Remember this is a holiday about family and thankfulness, not a contest to see if you can make Martha Stewart jealous.
The last thing anybody’s Thanksgiving needs is a jealous Martha Stewart on the warpath. For more ideas on keeping the stress out of hosting, be sure to check out these tips.
- Have Your Very Own Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Create an homage to the beloved Peanuts classic with an untraditional appetizer. Make up some tall stacks of buttered toast and serve up pretzels, popcorn and jelly beans. Just because Peppermint Patty didn’t appreciate Snoopy and Woodstock’s creative take on the traditional meal doesn’t mean you can’t. I’m betting the jelly beans will be gone before you can say, “You’re a blockhead, Charlie Brown.”
- The Giving Thanks Part
Be sure to “have a moment” at the beginning of the meal to offer up a simple prayer or reflection. Remember those who are no longer with you and welcome those who are new to the crew. Perhaps everyone can take a turn to say one thing they’re especially grateful for. This is a heartfelt, sincere and ultimately childlike way to bring everyone to a similar mindset as you gather together. Ignore the eye rolls and enjoy the moment.
- Wish Bone Whimsy
Don’t let the day pass you by without partaking in the ever-so-childlike tradition of breaking the wish bone. A bit barbaric, but always enjoyable. Drawing names out of a hat is one simple and fair way to handle it. Or you could play a fun family trivia game to determine the top two challengers to face off in front of everyone. If you get to be one of the finalists, be sure to wish for something important, like world peace or a Wii.
- Spice Up The Sides
It’s hard to argue with the traditional menu of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberries. But that’s not to say you can’t start a new tradition by adding a playful side dish that you would normally not see on your Thanksgiving dinner table. Try to pick something that will bring a smile to the faces of unsuspecting family members. Here are a few yummy ideas: fried cheese curds (a Wisconsin favorite), Oreos, french fries, rainbow Jell-O, guacamole or gourmet mac and cheese. If nothing else, you’re creating a conversation piece, allowing people to talk about something else besides religion, politics, and that thing growing on Grandma’s neck.
- Pass the Pie Please
Surprise everyone by having dessert first. Kids everywhere promise to themselves that one day, when they’re calling the shots, they’ll have desert first whenever they want. But before long, Adultitis sets in and those pledges fade away. One thing’s for sure: you’ll definitely be able to sort out who has Adultitis and who doesn’t. If you’re outnumbered by the curmudgeons who can’t get beyond the tradition of having dessert last, go ahead and enjoy your pie without them. Don’t you worry, there will be at least a few kids to joining you. Admittedly, this one may result in Aunt Gladys having a conniption fit. But then again, maybe that’s not altogether a bad thing.
- Open Up The Playbook
Football is a big part of the Thanksgiving tradition for many families. But you don’t have to leave all the fun to the pros. Invite folks to play a big family game, something that crosses generations and involves everyone. A few favorites to think about are spoons, flag football, kickball, hot potato, Pictionary, bingo, Apples to Apples or projectile spitting. If your group is just too ginormous to pull off playing all together, have a number of different games going on so people can go from one thing to the next, based on their interest. If your family loves to play cards, set up a number of tables and have a big tournament. The winner gets to bring home the leftover desserts.
- Movie Magic
Once the turkey coma has set in, watch a movie together as a group. Pick one that will appeal to all ages and will be entertaining and fun. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Kidding.) Anything by Pixar works well or there’s typically some sort of family movie on television that was released the year before. There’s nothing more fun than laughing and there’s nothing more heartwarming than sharing laughter with family…and making fun of Uncle David snoring in his chair.
With all the negativity in the news, your family needs fun now more than ever. Implement just a few of these tips and I’m sure your family will be thankful for the permission to be a little silly and grateful for the memories you’ll create together.
|Written on 11/24/2009 by Jason Kotecki. Jason is a cartoonist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight Adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escaping adulthood. Republished 11/20/2011.||Photo Credit: Jason Kotecki|