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10 ways to keep your family active over Thanksgiving break

Jill is a sometime runner and expert wine taster from sunny San Antonio. She has a degree in social psychology, one husband and three children. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Babble and she's regular...

There's more to do than eat leftovers and watch football

Thanksgiving break: We eat. We watch football. We eat. Maybe we get wrapped up in the madness of Black Friday bargain-hunting. We eat some more.

The kids are out of school and by the time Friday rolls around, the stir-crazy has taken up residence in your residence… and you still have three more days before you resume regularly scheduled programming.

Three. More. Days.

Post-Thanksgiving, it's tempting to give in to your inner sloth. The temperatures are cooling down. It’s cozy inside. Eating your way into a food coma goes perfectly with spacing out in front of the TV. But if you exert just a little energy to get you and your family moving, we swear your Thanksgiving break will fly by.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Find art in nature

Put on those jackets and get outside to see what you can find to make into art. Fall brings all kinds of aesthetically pleasing items you can collect for a collage or art project: leaves, acorns, twigs, buckeyes, flowers, pinecones, bark and more.

You can make some adorable twig stars, create some fun “snakes” with leaves or try your hand at making fall potpourri. For more inspiration, look to Pinterest. Here is a fun pin board that gives tons of arts and crafts ideas.

More: 20 vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes that make meatless feasting a pleasure

2. Go on a photo walk

Grab your cameras (or phones) and hit the streets. Explore a part of your city or town that’s known for its scenery or history. Even better? Choose a neighborhood that’s unfamiliar to you and discover it from behind the lens. If you live in the suburbs, explore an urban area. If you’re a city dweller, find some trails or hit the forest. Make a list of shots you want to take, such as a sign with the number five on it, a red door, a pile of leaves or someone riding a bicycle. You can make it competitive by setting limits on time or distance walked.

3. Feed the ducks

Get on the internet or ask family and friends for recommendations on where you might find waterfowl to watch and feed. Make sure you’re complying with any local restrictions (make sure you’re not trespassing on private property!), talk to your kids about safety and then pack up that stale bread and get outside.

4. Make a bird feeder

OK, so this is technically an indoor activity unless you live in a super-mild climate, but if weather keeps you indoors, making a bird feeder is a great way to keep hands busy. Try this fun cookie cutter bird feeder or this one that upcycles a plastic soda bottle. Pinterest (are you seeing a trend here?) has a ton of ideas for making bird feeders using items you have around your home or things you find on your nature walk.

More: Here's how I pull off the ultimate Thanksgiving brunch

5. Go on a bakery crawl

This is a family-friendly version of a pub crawl and an especially fun thing to do if you have out-of-town guests to entertain. Visit three or four of your favorite bakeries or patisseries and sample the taste of your town. Your city probably has a signature doughnut shop or the place to get kolaches. Discover a new favorite or enjoy and show off the best of your area.

You might need some stretchy pants and a nap, but no designated driver required.

6. Volunteer

Contact your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter to see if they need extra hands over the Thanksgiving weekend. You can also look for opportunities to help others close to home. Ask an elderly neighbor if you can help them hang their Christmas lights or if you can make a grocery store or post office run for them. Offer to help them address their holiday cards or print labels. Or have your kids ask!

More: These turkey-shaped Thanksgiving treats are hella goofy but irresistible

7. Visit your local museums

Bad weather? Maybe you don't want to be outside, but that doesn't mean you have to stay home. Check out a children’s museum (most places will be open the Saturday after Thanksgiving) and get everyone out of the house. Most local museums or art galleries will have some type of interactive exhibit or indoor play equipment if your small humans need to blow off steam.

8. Construct a bonfire

This activity is dependent on where you live and your local fire code, but if you’ve got the space to pull this off, this is an awesome way to get everyone outside and unplugged. Bonus? S'mores, of course!

9. Pile up some leaves… 

…and let your kids jump in it to their hearts' content. Because why not? Yes, it's extra work to rake them up again, but so what?

10. Play ball in the house

With a little ingenuity, you can make your own indoor playground. You’ll need to contain the shenanigans to a designated area, remove bric-a-brac and possibly rearrange furniture. Here are a bunch of ideas for ball games your kids can play and go (a little) crazy without driving you crazy.

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