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Non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions

Nikki Jong is a San Francisco-based author and editor who’s passionate about leading a planet-friendly lifestyle. She writes frequently about food and nutrition, health and wellness, natural healing, sustainable living and responsible co...

Start a new tradition

Thanksgiving is a holiday deeply steeped in tradition. Case in point: Lots of us make the same foods the same way, at the same house with the same host, year after year. Sure, some Thanksgiving traditions are wonderful and many of them we'll practice as long as we're around to enjoy the holiday. But if you've been hosting a Thanksgiving that's identical to the ones your mother and grandmother hosted, time out: Does your turkey day really reflect your family's values and sensibilities?

Family out for Thanksgiving walk

Why not start some new, non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions that do exactly that? Oxymoronic they may be, but non-traditional traditions can be a great way to put a fresh face on a favorite holiday and can even bring you and your loved ones closer together. Here are a few examples of new Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family.


Be active

Old Tradition: Sitting around watching college football on TV while loading up your third plate.

New Tradition: Shutting off the boob tube and venturing outside for a walk as a family.

Why It's Better: Offset the indulgence with physical activity so it's more pleasurable and less guilt-ridden. Plus, you'll work up an appetite and can catch up with your family without the distraction.

Change the menu

Old Tradition: Making the same turkey, side dishes and desserts you've had as long as you can remember.

New Tradition: Updating the menu every year with new twists on classic dishes (curried turkey, anyone?) or switching up the menu entirely— say, a vegan Thanksgiving with no animals or dairy products, or a locavore feast featuring all locally sourced foods.

Why It's Better: Thanksgiving is one part feast, one part party and 100 percent social. What better way to kick-start conversation than with a feast that's unique and nourishing for body, mind and planet?

Switch it up

Tradition: Playing the perfect hostess, all day and all night, every Thanksgiving, every year.

New Tradition: Making a reservation at your family's favorite restaurant, or one you've all been wanting to try.

Optional: Invite everyone over for coffee and dessert afterward.

Why It's Better: You'll save a lot of time and energy, and depending where you go, you may even save money. Best of all, though, you'll be focused on family, not on whether the bird's burning.

Stay true to you

Despite the temptation to overthrow all of your Thanksgiving traditions, keep in mind that there are probably many worth holding on to. Perhaps it's your great-grandmother's stuffing recipe. Or perhaps it is college football after all. The key is to make sure your celebration has something that fits everyone, including you. Bon appetit and happy Thanksgiving!

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