6 Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Better

Dreaming of the sweet aroma of pumpkin pie and that first bite of creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes? You’re not alone. As we prepare for an overload of family time and investing in a bigger jean size, we should also keep in mind that Thanksgiving is a great time to give back and express our gratitude. Here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving just a little bit better.

Chicago Basket Brigade
Mary Carol Photography courtesy of Chicago Basket Brigade

1. Volunteer: Chicago Thanksgiving Basket Brigade

Join the Chicago Thanksgiving Basket Brigade for their Annual Assembly Day. The Sunday morning before Thanksgiving, volunteers gather to assemble Thanksgiving baskets for families in-need. Last year, they served 2,200 families in the Chicago-area. You can also register as a driver and deliver the Thanksgiving Day Feasts to their respective homes.

Date: Nov. 24

2. Donate: The Volunteer Center and The Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Volunteer Center is sponsoring two opportunities for those looking to give back this Thanksgiving. You can donate a special basket of fresh produce and personal items, ranging from chocolates and nuts to shampoo and conditioner to the New Trier Township Food Pantry. And/or you can donate shopping bags with groceries to low income families through Good News Partners.

Date(s): For New Trier Food Pantry: Nov. 21, Nov. 22, Nov. 25 (by 9 a.m.)

For Good News Partners: Nov. 28

In Chicago, beginning Nov. 22, The Blackstone is channeling Andy Warhol’s “Campbells Soup Cans” (don’t miss the Warhol exhibit on now at Art Institute Chicago) and is accepting shelf-stable food donations in the hotel’s lobby to benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Turkey Trot Chicago
Courtesy of Turkey Trot Chicago

3. Participate: Turkey Trot Chicago

A Thanksgiving morning run is the perfect way to not only invest in your own health, but also someone else’s. The 42nd Annual Invisalign Turkey Trot Chicago presented by Byline supports the Greater Chicago Food Depository to ensure no Chicagoan will go hungry this holiday season. If you are in the suburbs, you can also run the North Shore Turkey Trot which supports the Highland Park Police Benevolent Association.

Date: Nov. 28

4. Lend a hand: Don’t forget about your own family!

There are plenty of ways to lend a helping hand to your family members, be it in providing delicious side for your Thanksgiving feast, or expressing your gratitude for them. Check out these other ideas for how to add gratitude to your Thanksgiving table.

Thanksgiving Leftovers
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

5. Reduce waste: Channel your inner Greta Thunberg

Opt for reusable plates and silverware and make sure to use up those leftovers! If you have any canned or non-perishable items that you did not end up using, you can also donate those to a local food pantry or the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

6. Honor Native American Heritage

In 1990, November was officially designated National American Indian Heritage Month. And for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is actually considered a “Day of Mourning.” After you’re finished carving your turkey, consider making a donation to Native American charities or spend your Black Friday dollars at a native-owned business. For other ideas on how to honor Native Americans this Thanksgiving, check out this article from CNN.


Madison Muller is a senior at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, learning to navigate the contemporary media environment with compassion and candor. She enjoys writing about health, travel, and humanity. You can always find her with a coffee in hand. Madison is a proud supporter of the National Eating Disorders Association.