Give thanks this Thanksgiving that you have plentiful options for ways to celebrate the holiday.
Sure, some families revel in a traditional gathering reminiscent of the famous Norman Rockwell painting depicting several generations seconds away from enjoying a turkey-centric feast. And others choose to ignore the holiday.
But for those of us who enjoy celebrating but want to change things up a bit, consider some of these alternative ideas to make your holiday special:
1. Live like a local
Travel sounds great, but who wants to spend Thanksgiving surrounded by strangers? Consider using Homestay.com, an online marketplace that matches you with a home and a local to enjoy. There are similar programs, of course, but Homestay hosts often include customized activities and tours for guests — for no extra charge. Some of the recent destinations include the homes of a magician in Rome, a former Buddhist monk in Thailand and a master potter in Cuba.
2. Gather with other celebrants
Whenever I go to Las Vegas, I think everyone’s a visitor there. Of course people live in the gorgeous state, but it seems most of those on the Strip during the holidays are from elsewhere. Those at loose ends for the holiday could do a lot worse than celebrating in Vegas. Not only will you find plenty of mostly good-humored crowds, but many restaurants there offer special Thanksgiving menus including Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Cleo, Northside Café & Chinese Kitchen.
3. Take to the sea
No, you don’t need to buy a boat or book a cruise. Instead, rent a boat (and the services of the captain) for the amount of time and location you want. Boatsetter.com is something akin to a matchmaker for boating enthusiasts and boat owners. You can choose from sunset cruises, snorkeling, finishing charters or even trips to sandbars where you can party or relax. Prices start at just under $300, less than many pay to take their families out to fancy holiday dinners.
4. Host a virtual gathering
“If you want to get together but don’t want to make a big fuss about it, host a Facebook party with family members that you won’t see,” said Brock Cooper of All Web Promotion, a website design and marketing agency. “While you might try to reach inside your screen to grab any food they’re cooking, it’s a fun way to engage with loved ones this holiday season. You can also plan an outing with your family to the local zoo, a movie or a nice restaurant.”
5. Take to the skies
Yes, many commercial flights may well be packed, but consider chartering a jet. Before you dismiss the splurge, which can cost thousands of dollars, remember that some private jets have last-minute “empty legs.” That means you can likely get a major discount for a last-minute flight. Just be sure to verify what return flight you might also secure. Exclusive, a private jet and charter company, offers details and how to get quotes.
6. Look for travel deals
Cheapflights.com just published “Thanksgiving getaways: 11 value destinations for a turkey day sneak away in 2016.” The strong U.S. dollar makes this holiday season a great time to travel internationally. Don’t stop there, though. The travel site Stride just published “Escape From Thanksgiving: 10 Unique Travel Ideas.” “We considered a couple key factors in our choices: duration and location,” said Stride’s Samantha Scott. “All trips are five days or less, and most are a reasonable distance from the U.S, to be exciting but still manageable. Destinations include everything from an Amazon River cruise to an active adventure tour in Colombia.”
7. Help others
We all know that many people have no options other than survival for Thanksgiving. Why not volunteer to help the less fortunate? Volunteer Match has hundreds of volunteer opportunities throughout the United States. Help families celebrate by joining in on food preparation or serving, clean up a historic site or assemble or deliver food baskets to seniors. Better still, grab friends and neighbors to join you in the volunteer activities.
What creative ways have you celebrated Thanksgiving or other holidays? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.