Games: I think that games are a great way to bring people together, have fun and keep people away from “hot button” topics. Of course, I’ve been in situations where game playing actually escalated family tension, but I think that is the exception rather than the rule. The best way to keep everyone on their best behavior is to include the children in your activities. A game of Pictionary, played with the kids, is very entertaining. Kids also love card games, such as Uno and Crazy 8’s – both games that adults can enjoy as well, instead of Go Fish or Old Maid.
Puzzles: Another fun activity the can be set up in a family room or rec room is a puzzle. Puzzles are the sort of thing that can be worked on in spurts by one person or many. Everyone can participate on some level – stopping by the puzzle table to chat and spend five minutes searching for that one missing piece.
Wii: I’m generally not a huge advocate of video games, but Wii can be quite entertaining and enjoyable for all ages! I especially think that some of the Wii Fit activities and Wii Sports Resort activities are just as suitable for a preschooler as they are for an 80 year old. Additionally, you can help but to laugh and enjoy yourself when you watch two people compete in a bike race or game of table tennis.
Movies: Yes, there will be football on that day and no doubt, people will be huddled around the television watching a game, but watching sports isn’t for everyone. In fact, if you rely solely on a football game as the source of entertainment, there are bound to be guests who get bored and boredom often leads to conflict or tension. If you have another room available with a DVD player, consider renting a few movies for the day. In particular, have some children’s movies on hand which will keep the kids quiet and entertained during the witching hours.
Outdoor Activity: Getting people out of the house is important. If the weather is conducive, arrange a game of flag football or take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood. Fresh air and exercise always relieves stress or tension.
Remember, Thanksgiving is just one day out of an entire year. Don’t try to do so much that you become stressed or on edge. Allow your guests to help in the kitchen – it makes them feel useful. Who cares if someone doesn’t make the mashed potatoes the same way as you – it’s most important that you are just spending time enjoying each other’s company.
Giving people jobs and having enough going on around your house to keep everyone entertained will lend itself to a fun and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.