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Four Things to Do After Thanksgiving That Don't Involve Being Trampled at Target

Your bank account and sanity will thank you for swapping Black Friday for one of these alternative traditions.

It’s 4am on the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday. Still in a Tofurky-induced coma from yesterday’s gluttonous nosh-fest, you roll out of bed, throw on a pair of sneakers, and take your padded wallet down to your favorite big box store. The hardcore shoppers started lining up as early as last night, their tents pitched next to the shopping carts. You queue, shivering in anticipation (and from the chilling November wind) for the early bird opening, where you will soon score such amazing deals on insert-that-prized-item-here, they’re practically paying you to take it. Soon enough, the doors will open, and customers will make a mad dash to hurl product after countless product into their carts, contributing dollar-by-dollar to one of the largest and busiest spending days of the entire year.

But is this truly how we want to start the holiday season—overloaded with stressful crowds, endless lines, and maxed-out credit cards? Instead of stressing and spending, consider redirecting your time, energy, and money to a more thoughtful post-Thanksgiving Friday. You may find yourself a more balanced, satisfied, and relaxed person, which is just how we strive to be during the whirlwind of the holidays.

Buy Nothing Day
Start by checking out Buy Nothing Day, anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters’ campaign to re-envision the debut of the holiday season as a time to “unshop, unspend, and unwind.” Founded in Toronto in 1992, this worldwide protest encourages people to rethink over-consumption and its detrimental effects on the environment, emotional health, and personal economics. Adbusters suggests a number of different ways to celebrate the anti-holiday, which include asking shoppers “What Would Jesus Buy,” dressing as Santa and meditating in a mall, or generously offering loved ones “gift exemption” cards. The holiday is famed for its pranks and shenanigans, which have included a 24-hour voluntary limit on technology-, electricity-, and automobile-use, multi-state free coat exchanges, and credit cart cut-up booths stationed outside of malls.

Feed Your Community
Many local soup kitchens and food pantries serve special meals for Thanksgiving to ensure that everyone has a feasting celebration, no matter the personal circumstances. These events tend to have an abundance of volunteers looking to give back to the community during this special time of year. Unfortunately, in 2010 alone, nearly 50 million people experienced food insecurity, meaning that many still go hungry after Thanksgiving is over. Rather than spending the day grabbing every last discounted item on store shelves, consider serving those most in need. Teen volunteer organization Do Something runs a database of soup kitchens and other charities nationwide in need of volunteers to get you started. In addition to being an emotionally rewarding experience, volunteering to help feed others is a great way to amp up your cooking skills and reconnect with the local community.

Make Something
Nurse that mashed-potato hangover by staying in your pajamas and making gifts all day—you could even boast (as the Black Friday shoppers do) that you’ve finished gathering all your holiday gifts before December 1. Handmade gifts add a personal touch to holidays that are usually overrun with store-bought, mass-produced goods. Online magazine Make:Projects provides how-to guides on DIY, with topics ranging from crafts and clothes to robotics and electronics. Use soft bamboo yarn, instead of the suggested merino, to create knitted boots for a recipient who will never forget their first handmade pair of shoes. Give Fluffy her most technologically-advanced gift ever by recycling an old VCR into a cat feeder. For some new punk threads, give some of Dad’s old ties new life by sewing them into a funky tie skirt for your most fashion-forward friend. Let Make:Projects show you the way to a relaxing, yet productive, consumer-free Black Friday.

Thanksgiving: Round Two
Raise your hand if you didn’t make too much food on Thanksgiving! Anyone? OK, it’s time for leftovers—otherwise known as Thanksgiving: Round Two. Food-lovers generally wouldn’t mind the opportunity to create an entirely new feast, but that won’t be necessary. Instead, consider whipping up some fabulous leftover makeovers to create dishes that are as—or even more—mouthwatering than day one. You could put together a Tofurky Apple Grape Salad Sandwich in no time. If you have any leftover baked sweet potatoes, vegan blogger Kathy Patalsky suggests mashing them for the ultimate comfort food. VegNews contributor Hannah Kaminsky has written a recipe for a Thanksgiving Quiche, that allows you to throw just about everything from the feasting aftermath into one delicious, savory pie. Feeling less ambitious? Why not just lounge on the couch with a piece of pumpkin pie and catch up on annual holiday specials with your family? Sounds like the perfect Black Friday to us.

This year, create some thoughtful post-Thanksgiving traditions instead of participating in the madness that is Black Friday. You may find yourself a more peaceful and satisfied person, sans all the superficial, material stuff.

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