Is it just me or does Black Friday seem to grow more and more out of control each year? As if pitching tents, camping out on storefronts and fighting one another—all in the name of a good discount—wasn’t bad enough, shopping during this commercial extravaganza has been further encroaching on Thanksgiving Day activities, with stores opening and sales beginning before the turkey has even been pulled from the oven.
This year, don’t focus on choosing between another plate of hot stuffing or stuffing your carts full of merchandise. Slow down and sit this Black Friday out to enjoy your day off, and to focus on the things you really feel grateful for.
Here’s a handful of community-friendly, and undoubtedly wallet-friendly, alternative things to do this Black Friday other than shop.
Take a note from my favorite outdoor retailer and #OptOutside with the co-op REI. As an initiative to focus on what’s important this holiday season, the corporation is closing all 143 stores and encouraging employees and shoppers to spend the day outdoors. It’s an impressive campaign, and hopefully (fingers crossed) will spark a trend to put the focus back on family and the environment during the Thanksgiving weekend.
As part of the campaign, state parks around the nation are offering free admission and camping permits for the weekend. If you’re not working, take advantage of the day off to spend it outside. Rake leaves, go for a walk, explore a nearby park and above all, soak in the fall weather wherever you go.
Thanksgiving: when you feel thanks, give. Go out into your community. The holidays should be spent reflecting on what we already have and realizing how much more we could be doing to support others. Now is always the time to turn to your own neighborhood and give back.
And, after a day of binging on your family’s Thanksgiving feast, why not spend the following day serving up a plate of potatoes and gravy to those who may not have had the same hearty, home-cooked meal you had. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, church, shelter or community event and continue to share in the warmth of a good meal and even better company. Likewise, volunteer meal delivery to clinics and hospitals, or package meals at a food shelf.
Speaking of food shelves, deliver the extra and unused cans of cranberry sauce, peas and pumpkin filling to your local food bank. Many organizations are also in need of extra support during the holidays given the influx of donations so, get a group together and spend the afternoon boxing items and lending a hand in the warehouse. Find your local food bank here.
Another great food related way to give back is by sponsoring meals through organizations that fight hunger year round. Even $5 otherwise spent on a Starbucks holiday latte goes a long way to feed children around the world. Send a donation and sponsor a meal with one of these organizations (or any other org you are familiar with) and give the gift of food.
- Feed My Starving Children
- Action Against Hunger
- Feeding America
- Stop Hunger Now
- The Hunger Project
- World Food Program
- Bread for the World Institute
DONATE ITEMS TO CHARITY
No better time like the present to clean closets and sift through the piles of clothes, books, movies and other items laying around the house that you’ve been meaning to clear up. Go through the things you haven’t used within the last year and donate items that are better served in a new home. Wrap unused or like new items that can be given at holiday toy drives and gift exchanges.
Whether it’s scarves, beer, desserts, or art, homemade gifts speak from the heart. Get a head start on Christmas cards and DIY presents with a craft day. Recycle bottles and paper to make matching homemade wrapping and labels for your gifts while you’re at it. Whatever you decide to make will leave you feeling proud in the end, so get creative!
Change up your environment and indulge in a staycation (vacation near home) or plan a quick day-trip to get away from the holiday hustle and bustle. See something new over a spontaneous weekend drive or explore the local area on a geocaching adventure.
Hit up a local gallery, museum, the theater or any other cultural event open and available the day after Thanksgiving as a way to consume something other than just products on Black Friday. Victor Frankenstein, anybody?
It only makes sense to work out after pigging out, amiright?! Plus, who wants to feel guilty about the Turkey Day leftovers calling your name in the fridge? Change up your workout routine for the day and join a fun class, or even take your exercise outside. Move around, get active and make your body happy!
CATCH UP ON CALLS
We all have a list of loved ones spending the holidays away from home or from which you just haven’t heard from in a while. Take this time to catch up with those you haven’t spoken with recently. Make phone calls rather than quick texts and Facebook messages.
START A NEW TRADITION
Gather your friends and family and take this opportunity to start a new post-Thanksgiving tradition. Sample holiday beer on a brew tour, kick-off the cookie baking early, form a book club for the holiday season—the list goes on and on! In three years’ time, during the activity’s annual event, you’ll be glad you started when you did.
There doesn’t have to be anything black about Black Friday if you don’t want there to be. Make this day about positivity and connect with something that matters. Happy Holidays!
What are your Thanksgiving plans and traditions? Are you a Black Friday shopper? Tell me what you’re up to below!