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Think outside the box this Thanksgiving, and try some new traditions with your family.

With Thanksgiving coming up fast, it’s about time that everyone starts making plans. Flights are scheduled, arrangements are made and outfits are prepared. Thanksgiving is generally seen as a traditional sort of holiday. In other words, every family has different customs they tend to follow, such as making a large feast for the family to share together, or watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Despite traditions like these being a positive way to bring families together, especially when they have been separated by a large distance for some time, they can occasionally be perceived as monotonous. After so many years of knowing exactly what the agenda will contain, it may be time to try something new.

This article contains suggestions as to possible ways that you and your loved ones could spend time together, while also feeling the thrill of a new experience. Some of these ideas may seem a little out of the box, but I guarantee that the wonderful memories you could make by engaging in these activities will be cherished for a very long time.

Get out

Let’s start by getting out of the house. Instead of making your own dinner, try eating out instead. There are many fabulous restaurants within Charleston that are not only open on Thanksgiving Day, but some also offer a full course Thanksgiving feast. This eliminates the stress of cooking, but still allows you to sit down around a table and enjoy a quality meal.

A personal suggestion is for you to visit Cracker Barrel. With locations in both Charleston and Cross Lanes, Cracker Barrel offers a wonderful thanksgiving dinner, and the atmosphere is fantastic for feeling at home.

Movie time

After you eat, go see a movie. The majority of movie theaters do try to stay open for the holidays if possible, and there are plenty of heartwarming, family-oriented films coming out in time for Thanksgiving.

Give back

Of course, Thanksgiving is all about reflecting on the blessings that have fallen upon you and your loved ones in the past year, as well as being grateful for them. What better way to show your gratitude than to give back?

Find a local soup kitchen, and spend a part of your day helping to provide for those in need. This may not seem like much of a celebration, but take it from me, once you see how happy some people are to receive a warm and filling meal, nothing in the world can compare with the pride that builds inside of your gut.

Knowing that you made someone’s day that much better is extremely uplifting, and when your whole family gets involved, you can all share in the feeling together.

This experience specifically is one that you may talk about for years after it happens, because nothing beats helping those who need it. The meal you make for them may be the best part of their day, or week, or month or even year.

Block party

Finally, bring the block together. What I mean by this is, while Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated by each family respectively, perhaps put together a large party. Invite your friends and their families, as well as your neighbors and their loved ones. If a house doesn’t seem to be big enough, a local church or community center may be willing to host the event.

Everyone could bring a dish that’s special to their family, as something to represent them. After everyone eats together, sharing foods and swapping stories around the table, plan some activities. You’d be surprised how exciting things like board games, movies, jokes, charades and corn-hole can become when you are surrounded by so many people who love one another. This is a great way to get to know the families of your friends, meet some new people and enjoy some homemade food all in one evening.

All in all, this holiday is truly about spending time with the ones you love. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, as long as you are happy, and enjoy the time you have together. It is commonly known that families can fight and disagree on things, but for at least one night, you can put aside your differences and just be thankful for what you have.

Whether you are a stickler for tradition, or would rather take the chance of trying something new, take the time to think of your roots, and all of the choices, good or bad, that led you to where you are right now. I won’t lie and say that things may be perfect, but, for a night, I believe that things could be pretty darn good. Happy Thanksgiving!