10 Non-Food Based Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving

10 nonbased food ways to celebrate thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be one of the most stressful holidays for individuals struggling with eating disorders and those in eating disorder recovery. Since the holiday has a hyper-focus on food many individual’s may experience great anxiety.

by: Kristin Burmeister

Taking some of the focus away from food and remembering Thanksgiving’s core of gratitude can help make this holiday easier and more enjoyable. The following are some traditions you can start to help Thanksgiving to be less about food and more about gratitude:

  1. The Thanksgiving tree: Have family and friends write what they are thankful for on leafs cut out of construction paper. Using string, you can make the leaves into ornaments and put the leafs on a small tree. This tradition can help everyone keep gratitude in mind during Thanksgiving and can make a great centerpiece for the dining table.

  2. White elephant gift exchange: Everyone coming to the Thanksgiving celebration brings a gift worth $5-$10 and set the gifts on a table. Everyone chooses a piece of paper with a number on it from a bowl that will determine the order in which people can choose a gift from the table. Giving can reinforce appreciation and acknowledgement of each other.

  3. Thank you notes: Writing thank you notes to family and friends is a tradition you can do by yourself and can help you keep your support system in mind during the holidays.

  4. Secret turkey blanket exchange: Before the holiday, everyone is randomly assigned a person to buy a blanket for and these gifts are exchanged at the Thanksgiving holiday celebration. This tradition can help everyone stay warm in the upcoming winter.

  5. Thanksgiving film screening: Watch your favorite holiday movie together. This can add much needed relaxation during the often hectic holiday.

  6. Give to others: Host a clothing drive for the needy at your celebration. Have everyone bring a warm clothing item, such as hats, gloves, and scarves and later donate them to a nearby homeless shelter. Helping others on Thanksgiving can remind us of the wonderful things we have in our own lives.

  7. Thankful guessing game: Have everyone write down something they are thankful for on a slip of paper and put the papers in a jar. Later, have everyone go around the table and pick a random slip of paper, read it aloud, and then try and guess who wrote it. This tradition can help people get to know each other and also encourages us to practice gratitude.

  8. Board game table: Set up a table with a variety of your favorite board games for everyone to play throughout the day. This tradition is a fun way to have people interact and creates a safe space to go to if the festivities become overwhelming.

  9. Happy thought jars: Get a mason jar or other container for everyone at the celebration and have them write their name on it and decorate it. Throughout the celebration have people write happy notes to each other and place them in the jars. This allows everyone to have something to take away and cherish the holiday.

  10. Self-care hour: Take an hour out of the day to spend on self-care. This can be taking a bath, going for a walk, taking a nap, reading a book, yoga, or anything else that helps you feel centered and relaxed. Remembering to take care of yourself during stressful holidays is important and can help ease anxiety!

Looking for eating disorder treatment programs or services in the New York City area? Learn more about our options at BALANCE eating disorder treatment center here or contact us here.


This post was written by BALANCE blog intern Kristin Burmeister.

Kristin is a graduate student studying social work at Case Western Reserve Universtiy. Her own recovery journey inspired her to want to help others who struggle with eating disorders. In the future, she hopes to work as a clinical social worker with a focus on eating disorder treatment.