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It's been a year of—wait for it—unprecedented challenges as well as a hotly controversial presidential election. Thanksgiving dinners on election years are also a little tenser, and you might be gearing up for a rough turkey day this year.
But there's good news—you're in control. Psychologist Gail Gross told the Huffington Post, "Family undercurrents can only add pressure to your Thanksgiving dinner if you allow them." Just remember to keep yourself grounded and keep everything in perspective.
If you're craving some family time where you're not stressed about your uncle's off-handed comments over the mashed potatoes, make a special effort to engage in some family bonding activities. So between the dinner dishes and the second round of pumpkin pie, try these few activities to bring the entire family together for some fun, relaxation and old-fashioned bonding.
Take a walk
You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen. Well, too many people around the dinner table can also lead to frustrating situations. If Thanksgiving conversation has wandered into topics you're less than thankful for, a family walk in the crisp November air could boost moods and relieve tension.
According to the Mayo Clinic, going for a walk can help improve your mood and reduce your blood sugar. So not only will you feel better, you'll be ready for a second piece of pie when you get back.
Make a difference
Serving up Thanksgiving dinner is no small task, but save a little of that service for some post-dinner volunteering—and be sure to make it a family affair.
Call up a local food bank and offer to help serve Thanksgiving dinner. Or, if you're social distancing or just prefer to stay in, clear the table and dedicate the space to making care packages for homeless shelters or deployed military.
Volunteering as a family won't just boost your mood, It will also help you connect to your family and your community. If you need ideas for ways to serve together—especially with small kids—check out Points of Light.
Ring in the season
Anything goes in 2020, so if your Christmas tree was up the day after Halloween, there's no judgment here. But if you have yet to deck the halls in your home, breaking out the tinsel and stockings is the perfect way to spend a cozy Thanksgiving evening together as a family.
If you have little ones, have them string popcorn or color their own Christmas décor. Whether your family decorating party is a time-honored tradition or a whole new pastime, you can make it special by turning on the holiday tunes, passing out mugs of hot cocoa and taking turns unwrapping cherished ornaments and decorations as a family.
Curl up together
Family bonding doesn't get much easier—or more enjoyable—than a classic movie night. And after the work of serving (and eating!) a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, everyone could use some time to relax and decompress.
Choose a festive holiday flick or a family-friendly new release, share a fresh batch of buttered popcorn and curl up with the coziest blankets in the house—like those from Minky Couture. Not sure what to watch? Time Out has a great list of all the 50 best family-friendly movies.
Get in the game(s)
Pictionary, anyone? You might not be running a marathon after your Thanksgiving meal, but that doesn't mean you can't laugh off a few calories with a little friendly competition.
Break out time-honored classics like Monopoly or Scrabble, or choose the simple and clean-up-free option: family game apps. Romper has a list of all the best apps to download now for some family fun – from Mad Libs to Heads Up to Exploding Kittens (yes, that's a thing).
Cook up a sweet ending
Family bonding over chocolate souffle? Yes please! Cooking competitions are all the rage these days, and there's no reason your kitchen can't do double duty on Thanksgiving this year. After dinner, split your family into two teams to see who can whip up the tastiest Thanksgiving dessert.
Will it be the cream-cheese stuffed pumpkin roll or the Belgian chocolate cream pie? There's only one way to judge, so bon appetit!
If you're the type of family who would rather watch teh chefs do the cooking, turn on some "Great British Baking Show." Many people love it for their civility and lighthearted competitive tone.
Take one as a team
It didn't work out so well for Charlie Brown, but kicking a football is about as traditional as Thanksgiving gets—aside from the turkey and mashed potatoes, of course. Once the gravy boat is empty and the leftovers put away, head to the backyard for a little Turkey Bowl. Not sure your family has Charlie-Brown-style endurance? These stories of family and football from Star Tribune might provide a little motivation.
Sure, 2020 hasn't exactly been a picnic, but that doesn't mean your family can't enjoy a special holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. Spending some quality time together is a great way to appreciate what's most important—each other. Make your holiday season a little warmer with a Minky Couture blanket. With dozens of designs and sizes, you can find something for every member of the family.