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11 Alternatives to a Traditional Thanksgiving


Welcome to the holiday kickoff, Arkansas; Thanksgiving is upon us. If you get excited about traditional late night baking, early morning turkey cooking, getting the house ready for guests, or making a mad dash out of town for a getaway, go for it. If you are searching for something on the simple side this year, check out a list of Thanksgiving alternatives that will keep the holiday spirit close, and stress far at bay.


Keep it Simple

  1. Spend the morning or afternoon cooking together. Choose a couple of recipes your family loves, and pick up you the ingredients ahead of time. Way ahead of time (the day before Thanksgiving is a busy, busy day to grocery shop). Enjoy the time spent together in the kitchen without having to get a meal on the table at a certain time. It can be traditional holiday fare, or any food you haven’t taken the time to make in a while.
  2. Rest. Americans aren’t taking enough breaks from work: real breaks. If rest is what you need, spend the day reading or working on a hobby you haven’t made the time for lately. Or hey, just take a nap.
  3. Get outside. The weather on Thanksgiving Day in Arkansas isn’t at all predictable, but weather nearly always permits at least 10 or 20 minutes outside; fresh air is a good thing. Take a walk, go for a hike, or have a snowball fight, depending on the state of forecast.
  4. Keep it immediate. It’s okay to celebrate Thanksgiving without the long road trip and without opening up your home to accommodate extended family. If those things don’t work for you and your family this year, don’t sweat it. Cozy up with the household and play games, watch a movie, or hang out and talk.

Serve Others
salvation army

  1. Check local charities. The Salvation Army in Northwest Arkansas and Little Rock will be serving a Thanksgiving meal, and they rely on volunteers to help out. Other soup kitchens and charitable organizations are closed for the holiday, but it won’t hurt to check. If you want to help out, call your local food pantry or soup kitchen and find out when they need help the most. Some charities open back up the weekend after Thanksgiving and could use donations and volunteers on a weekend when a lot of people are out of town.
  2. Invite a friend or neighbor. There are lots of colleges in Arkansas. Do you know a student who can’t make it home? Or a neighbor who lives by herself? Invite someone to join your family for a day of fellowship.
  3. Visit someone. Do you know a shut-in who could use some food and company? Pick up an extra pie when you’re out, make up an extra batch of chili, or cook up extras of your turkey day feast for someone who won’t otherwise have a special meal on Thanksgiving.

Let someone else do the cooking.

  1. Order a ham from one of the HoneyBaked Ham locations around the state in Little Rock, Jonesboro, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, or Bentonville. Hams come cooked and ready to eat.
  2. You can probably find a variety of Petit Jean Meats products at your grocery store, or you can order a cooked turkey from their website—shipped in an insulated container and ready to refrigerate when it arrives on your doorstep. Petit Jean sells everything from turkey and ham, to bacon, sausage, and beef. Simple and delicious, oh and smart.
  3. Mimi’s Café has a Thanksgiving Holiday Feast to go that includes a herb butter basted turkey, mashed potatoes, apple cranberry orange relish, and buttered cornbread stuffing, among other things. If you’re in the northwest Arkansas or Little Rock area, you can order the whole shebang, just the side items, or a la carte cuts of meat, and pick up your food at the restaurant. According to their site, when you order a Holiday Feast from Mimi’s they will donate four meals to children in need.
  4. Check local restaurants. Many restaurants offer Thanksgiving meats, sides, and desserts you can pick up ahead of the day. There’s usually a cut-off date for orders, so plan ahead to choose from the menu and pick up your meal. Here are a few restaurants open for dine-in service if you’d like to avoid the cooking and the clean up.

AQ Chicken, Springdale, open 11-3 on Thanksgiving.

Golden Corral has a Thanksgiving Day Buffet for $12.99. Locations in Rogers, Fayetteville, Little Rock, Conway, and Fort Smith.

Cracker Barrel is serving traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a full menu available after 11:00. Locations include Little Rock, Conway, Alma, West Memphis, northwest Arkansas.

Don’t forget to check locally owned restaurants to see if your favorite is open on Thanksgiving Day.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at First Security Bank.

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Rhonda is a writer and editor who creates content and rights the wrongs of misspelled words and grammar gone awry. A born city girl, she raises three lively boys with her husband in the rural woods outside of Springdale. She loves sharing other people’s stories with the written (and edited) word via her freelance work at RhondaFranz.com. She holds Arkansas teacher licensure and offers advice, tips, education, and humor while telling true tales of parenthood and the pilot wife life at CaptainMom.net. She schleps her children all over Northwest Arkansas and occasionally works on freelance projects in parking lots from the back of her minivan.

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