7 Ways to Spend Black Friday (That Don’t Involve Shopping)

For years, the day after Thanksgiving has been commandeered by Black Friday activities (standing in line at 4:00 a.m., trampling fellow shoppers for the latest toy, you know what we mean).

If you’re ready to ditch the consumption this year and try something new, Earth911 is here to help. We compiled a list of fun, low-impact activities for you and your loved ones to enjoy this Black Friday. Trust us, you won’t miss the lines one bit.

1. Repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers

Leftovers aren’t always the most exciting meals. So, they can often sit uneaten in the back of the fridge. Fight back against food waste by giving your leftovers a face-lift, and the family will be far more likely to make them disappear.

Stuck for ideas? Sites like Love Food, Hate Waste and Key Ingredient allow you to type in the ingredients you have on hand and receive fresh recipe ideas for turning them into something brand new.

Who knows? Those scalloped potatoes may make lovely home fries for breakfast, and leftover turkey could turn into a delectable stew. Think outside the box for creations that are unexpected.

2. Fix something

If you aren’t the best with a screwdriver, a Black Friday at home could be the perfect time to call on the handyman talents of a visiting friend or family member to finally fix a finicky item in your home.

Don’t worry — your cousin doesn’t have to be Bob Vila to get the job done. Sites like iFixIt.com provide free repair manuals for everything from smartphones to lamps and will make it easy to get the most life out of your items.

For things that can’t be fixed, always remember to recycle rather than tossing them in the trash.

3. Donate to charity

If you went out shopping on Black Friday, who knows how much cash you’d spend? So, if you plan to abstain from the hustle and bustle this year, why not donate a few dollars from the shopping budget to charitable causes you care about?

Choosing a charity can seem overwhelming at times. But with family and friends in town, it can turn into a pretty fun way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Have each guest suggest a cause, then spend some time researching well-rated charities that support it. Everyone will feel better knowing they made a difference, and you’ll send those hard-earned dollars to a cause that really needs it — rather than buying the latest fad toy or gadget.

4. Craft with the kids

Reuse crafting is a great way to entertain kids indoors. As a bonus, you’ll rescue a few items from your recycling bin to create brand-new works of art.

To get you started, check out these fun kids’ crafts made from food packaging or these toilet paper roll crafts that are perfect for lazy days indoors.

5. Explore your neighborhood

If you’re ever stumped for an eco-friendly activity, the best thing you can do is get outside. Spending time outdoors helps you remember why protecting the planet is so important, and you’ll also save some cash on your electric bill, as you won’t have to use energy for heating and lighting your home.

So, pile on the winter gear and head to a local pocket park, botanical garden, or museum to experience something new in your town. Don’t know where to go? Visit your town or municipality’s website to find listings of nearby parks, outdoor events, and more.

6. Go on a trash run (or walk)

Want to make your outdoor activity even greener? Go plogging, the newest eco-trend that’s sweeping the jogging world, to burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories.

Just grab a trash bag and set off on your course, making quick stops to pick up litter along the way. This may sound a bit more appealing in warmer climates, but even cool autumn air can start to feel refreshing once you get moving.

Not up for a full-blown sprint? Try a “trash walk” instead for all the eco-benefits — without the shin splints. If you live near a stream, river, pond, or ocean, why not give Earthing a try? Fish for litter in the water as you stroll along the water’s edge.

7. Learn something new about your family

Maybe you’ve always been curious about family ancestry, or perhaps you just want to learn a little more about loved ones while they’re in town.

Plan a fun afternoon activity to bring everyone closer together, such as checking out a genealogy website or writing down a little-known fact about each person, placing those in a jar and then reading them off, trying to guess which facts belong to whom.

Want more ideas? Check out these 20 green things you can do in 20 minutes or less to make a difference for our planet in no time at all.

Originally published on November 28, 2013, this article was updated in November 2020.

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Mary Mazzoni

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