SOUTHERN UTAH – The Thanksgiving season has arrived, and with that, many will also welcome the arrival of extended family and friends. While the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones can be a special time, it can also be a source of additional stress. Coming up with ideas to entertain visiting family can be a daunting challenge.
Below is a list of five ways to help you create memories with family and friends that will last well beyond the holiday season.
Bond in nature
A growing hashtag trend for the day after Thanksgiving known as “Black Friday” is to #optoutside. It is a movement started by the outdoor retail giant REI. On a day traditionally known for crazy sales and even crazier people waiting in long lines in the dark and cold to buy stuff, #optoutside is switching the focus to spending the day outside with family, friends and nature. A perfect combination.
Getting outside to go for a hike, bike ride or nature walk can be a great family bonding activity, and Southern Utah has no shortage of places to enjoy the outdoors.
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Some great options include Zion National Park, the Kolob area of Zion National Park and any number of the fabulous state parks located in Southern Utah, from Snow Canyon State Park in the St. George area to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab.
Thanks to the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association, Southern Utah is also a mecca for mountain biking trails. The group has worked hard to coordinate, plan, design and build trails for riders of all skill levels anywhere from St. George to Cedar City to Kanab. Take a look at the association’s website for descriptions of trails, and choose one to ride with your adventurous family.
Don’t get bored, play board games
It may be debatable whether board games seal or break the family bonds, but there is no denying they provide lots of entertainment for family of all ages.
If you need ideas about what games to play, Amazon’s list of best selling board games and best selling card games provides a great sampling of what people are buying and playing. The list includes the ever popular and oft hilarious Pie Face! game – which is exactly as its moniker says – as well as more traditional games like Connect 4 and Twister.
One of the most popular card games this year is the adult-only Cards Against Humanity game, which is described as a “card game for horrible people.” The game has consistent five-star reviews on Amazon but has also been lamented as the degeneration of America in a letter of complaint published in the New York Times. What better way to get to know your more distant relatives than finding out their sense of humor or lack thereof?
Be a hometown tourist
It is possible that many people think there is nothing to do in their hometown, but visiting family and friends are probably interested in seeing the area where you live.
Try being a hometown tourist yourself for Thanksgiving weekend and discover your city through fresh eyes.
Here are a few fun and interesting attractions to discover or rediscover:
- Frontier Homestead State Park – Cedar City
- Southern Utah Museum of Art – Cedar City
- Little Hollywood Museum – Kanab
- Moqui Cave – Kanab
- Dinosaur Discovery Site – St. George
- St. George Children’s Museum – St. George
Where would you take your visiting family?
Create a family social media hashtag
In today’s frenetic digital age, it is almost impossible to expect family members and friends to power down completely. Instead of harassing each other about social media habits, why not use it to your advantage?
Create a family hashtag that everyone can use when sharing pictures and snippets of the holiday feast, crazy family antics and adorable kid quotes that should never be forgotten. Write the hashtag somewhere visible like on a chalkboard or on your dinner place settings and start snapping photos and sharing.
Make service a priority
Chances are if you are having friends and family visit to share in a turkey day feast then you already have more bounty than many. Why not share that bounty with others through service and bind your family together by teaching the value of helping others?
One of the easiest ways to serve is by donating nonperishable food items to one of several food pantries in the Southern Utah area. Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George and the Iron County Care and Share in Cedar City are both great places to donate time, money, food or clothing items. Both locations have several volunteer opportunities to help those less fortunate as well.
Another great way to spread a little extra cheer is to make blessing bags. Blessing bags are gallon-sized plastic bags that are stuffed with toiletries, a clean pair of socks, maybe a small cash bill and other items that are kept in a persons car to hand out when the need arises.
Online there are several how-to guides to make blessing bags. Make it a fun family project or host a group of friends to make blessing bags and spread gratitude in real and simple ways all while creating memories with your loved ones.
About the series “Thanksgiving 2016”
This story is part of the St. George News / Cedar City News “Thanksgiving 2016” series.
Whether you are looking for fun ideas for entertaining friends and family, alternatives to the traditional turkey dinner, history of the holiday and those who practice it or simply stories of gratitude, continue to check back over the course of the holiday for more “Thanksgiving 2016” stories.
Other stories in the series:
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