Celebrate Thanksgiving in new ways

Jasmine Smith Photography - Pretty Luxe Picnics - Backyard
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Monique Alveranga, founder and owner of Pretty Luxe Picnics, says she’s grateful that her picnic setups, catering and services are fulfilling a need over the pandemic. Courtesy of Jasmine Smith Photography

Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

Credit: Jasmine Smith Photography

10 alternative options to consider for your Thanksgiving Day.

This time of the year always inspires gatherings — with friends, family and other loved ones. Yet, with COVID-19 prevention measures still heightened, a large, crowded Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s house may not be back on the menu for some families just yet.

But no need to throw out the big dinner gathering (or grandma). Instead, why not get creative, and mix things up this year? While it’s a slippery slope whenever you alter the classics (i.e. don’t go experimenting with the mac-n-cheese), we also admit that breaking some traditions can feel bold, fun and adventurous. So, here are some fun alternatives to celebrate your Thanksgiving Day.

Think outside (the box)

Picnic Fun

Why not consider taking the party outside for a Thanksgiving Day picnic?

Set up your own epic backyard bash. Or turn to one of city’s go-to picnic vendors, such as Pop-Up Picnics (popuppicnicsatl.com), Gather Picnic Co. (gatherpicnicco.com) and Pretty Luxe Picnics (prettyluxepicnics.com), which offer everything from picnic setup, picturesque tablescapes and even catering options.

Get active

Start your day with some fresh air and activity. Grab your crew to hit one of the many metro parks and trails for a leisure walk or ride. For example, join friends and family to explore the new Westside Park, which is touted as the city’s largest green space.

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Kick off your holiday season with the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon and 5K in downtown Atlanta.

Credit: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Kick off your holiday season with the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon and 5K in downtown Atlanta.
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Kick off your holiday season with the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon and 5K in downtown Atlanta.

Credit: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Credit: BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Or head to the Summerhill/Turner Field area to join loved ones as you run, walk or cheer on other race participants for Atlanta Track Club’s annual Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, 5K, Mile & Dash. The race returns to the city this year and offers participants a chance to burn a few calories in advance of any meal splurging. Advance registration is required. Virtual participation is also offered.

Registration starts at $8.70. Center Parc Stadium, 755 Hank Aaron Drive SE, Atlanta, atlantatrackclub.org.

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Thanksgiving Day brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta Thanksgiving Day includes favorites such as roasted turkey as well as brunch classics like made-to-order waffles and omelets. Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Credit: Handout

Thanksgiving Day brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta Thanksgiving Day includes favorites such as roasted turkey as well as brunch classics like made-to-order waffles and omelets.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta
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Thanksgiving Day brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta Thanksgiving Day includes favorites such as roasted turkey as well as brunch classics like made-to-order waffles and omelets. Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Let’s do brunch

For foodies, the self-satisfied, post-meal pant unbuttoning is probably as customary as the Thanksgiving meal itself. Keep that custom — just move your big meal to earlier in the day AND spare yourself the cooking.

Utilizing their mezzanine level to socially distance tables, the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta invites guests to enjoy their epic Thanksgiving brunch. Among 10 culinary stations, guests can still find all the Thanksgiving Day favorites such as roasted turkey, cornbread-sage stuffing, thyme gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But guests are also enticed with items such as bao buns stuffed with five-spice roasted duck, baked Scottish salmon, made-to-order waffles and omelets, charcuterie spreads, an elaborate salad bar and so much more.

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 25. Reservations are strongly encouraged. $135 per adult, $67.50 for under age 12 (5 and younger or free). Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. 75 14th St. NE, Atlanta. 404-881-5913, fourseasons.com/atlanta.

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Skaters take to the ice at a 10,000-square-foot open-air ice skating rink in Atlantic Station on November 14, 2013 in Atlanta, Ga. Skate Atlantic Station is one of many ice skating rinks in metro Atlanta.

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Skaters take to the ice at a 10,000-square-foot open-air ice skating rink in Atlantic Station on November 14, 2013 in Atlanta, Ga. Skate Atlantic Station is one of many ice skating rinks in metro Atlanta.
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Skaters take to the ice at a 10,000-square-foot open-air ice skating rink in Atlantic Station on November 14, 2013 in Atlanta, Ga. Skate Atlantic Station is one of many ice skating rinks in metro Atlanta.

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Slide through

If you decided to forgo a big dinner party, then ask friends and extended family to slide through for an evening of skating. Atlantic Station’s 10,000 square-foot rink — touted as the largest outdoor rink in the metro — is open on Thanksgiving Day from 4-11 p.m. Atlantic Station also features a free nightly holiday light and music show, which runs on the hour, starting at 5 p.m.

Nov. 19-Jan 17. Starting at $15 (includes skate rentals). 1380 Atlantic Drive NW, Atlanta. atlanticstation.com/event/skate-the-station.

Screen Time

Cinephiles have long held the tradition of flocking to theaters on Thanksgiving Day to be among the first to view the opening weekend of holiday blockbusters. Many metro Atlanta cinemas are screening select movies on the holiday, and some even offer private theater rentals. The Starlight Drive-In, also open, gives moviegoers another socially distanced option to enjoy a show. And, of course, you can always host your own outdoor movie night or football watch party with the assistance of one of the metro’s inflatable outdoor movie screen rental companies.

Our picks this week

‘Tis the season, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is your No. 1 source for things to do, see and eat through all of the holidays.

DO: See this once-in-a-lifetime comet as it nears Earth

SEE: More than 100 new holiday movies out this year on TV and streaming services

EAT: Recipes to make your popcorn truly pop

For our full coverage of holiday events around metro Atlanta, check out the AJC’s Atlanta Winter Guide.

Jump ahead to the next holiday

A light gathering

Enjoy an intimate family dinner, then consider meeting up with extended family for some post-meal holiday fun. Thus, a holly jolly caravan might just be the move for your after-dinner plans. The World of Illumination’s drive-through light show returns to the metro this year with two locations — Marietta and Hampton. Open on Thanksgiving Day, each show features roughly a mile of sound-synced lights.

6 p.m.-10 p.m. through Jan 2. Reservations required. Starting at $45 per vehicle. Artic Adventure (at Atlanta Motor Speedway) 1500 Tara Place, Hampton; Rockin’ Christmas (Six Flags White Water) 250 Cobb Parkway N., Marietta. worldofillumination.com.

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Stone Mountain’s Christmas festival features live shows, holiday character greetings, light displays, carolers and more. Courtesy of Stone Mountain Park

Credit: Handout

Stone Mountain’s Christmas festival features live shows, holiday character greetings, light displays, carolers and more.
Courtesy of Stone Mountain Park
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Stone Mountain’s Christmas festival features live shows, holiday character greetings, light displays, carolers and more. Courtesy of Stone Mountain Park

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Get festive

Ideal for a multigenerational outing, Stone Mountain’s Christmas festival features live shows, holiday character greetings, light displays, carolers and more. Enjoy family-friendly activities like mini golf and their signature sing-a-long train ride. And don’t forget the treats: hot chocolate, fried Oreos and funnel cakes definitely sweeten up the deal.

Select dates through Jan. 2. Prices starting at $29.95 for children and $31.95 for adults. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain. 800-401-2407, stonemountainpark.com. (Hours vary, so check the website for program hours.)

Go on holiday

Checked in but checked out

Lowkey content that the pandemic has twice provided an excuse to ditch hosting and cooking duties? Then, consider this year another opportunity to redefine Thanksgiving as a relaxing holiday. Trying out at least one holiday staycation might just be the experience needed to never look back again.

Instead of hosting guests, be the guest this Thanksgiving at the Barnsley Resort, which offers a full holiday buffet, including a turkey carving station, prime rib and an array of desserts. Resort guests can also start the day with a Turkey Trot run along the property, unwind at the property’s spa or partake in the resort’s many activities including horseback riding and axe throwing.

Barnsley Resort, 597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville. 770-773-7480, barnsleyresort.com.

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Celebrate Hip-Hop History Month at REVERB Downtown Atlanta with city audio tours both curated Courtesy of beloved hip-hop artists and Atlanta natives, Big Boi and CeeLo Green. Courtesy of REVERB Downtown Atlanta

Credit: Handout

Celebrate Hip-Hop History Month at REVERB Downtown Atlanta with city audio tours both curated Courtesy of beloved hip-hop artists and Atlanta natives, Big Boi and CeeLo Green.
Courtesy of REVERB Downtown Atlanta
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Celebrate Hip-Hop History Month at REVERB Downtown Atlanta with city audio tours both curated Courtesy of beloved hip-hop artists and Atlanta natives, Big Boi and CeeLo Green. Courtesy of REVERB Downtown Atlanta

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Tune in

A stay at the Reverb Downtown Atlanta also offers guests another chance to escape holiday hosting woes. Yet, the property might serve as a great place to spark a new November tradition.

Before going heavy with the holiday tunes, use the day to both sightsee and celebrate a love for hip-hop as the month of November was recently inaugurated as Hip-Hop History Month. The Reverb offers City Guides, which are city audio tours both narrated and curated by beloved hip-hop artists and Atlantans Big Boi and CeeLo Green.

Reverb By Hard Rock, 89 Centennial Olympic Park Drive NW, Atlanta. 470-552-8410, hardrockhotels.com/atlanta.

Merry mornings

Wake up in the holiday spirit in Hotel Colee’s “On Dancer” Grand Suite. Decorated with lights, tinsel and your own in-room Christmas tree, the suite is the perfect place to close out your Thanksgiving Day and kick the Christmas season in high drive. The room package also comes with seasonal treats, including cookies, bonbons, decked-out hot cocoa and a $50 credit for in-room breakfast. To book the “On Dancer” suite ($399 per night plus taxes), a reservation is required at least three days in advance.

Hotel Colee, 3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, 678-500-3100, hotelcolee.com.

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