Thanksgiving’s arrival next week signals that the holiday shopping season is upon us. While experts have shared that we should have started our holiday shopping months ago, we all know that old habits die hard and that many people will be pulling out their shopping lists next Friday to get started checking off the gifts.
But before you jump on the late to the party train and rush out with the masses on Black Friday, consider taking a mental health break instead by choosing to #optoutside. After the year and a half we’ve all had, it’s become more important than ever to take a moment to reflect and appreciate the natural world. Time in nature has been proven to be beneficial for mental health and given many folks will attend their first holiday gathering since pre-pandemic times, we’re guessing most will need that break.
Maybe you don’t consider yourself ‘outdoorsy’ or perhaps you’re looking for something different to do on Black Friday to encourage your friends and family to spend time outdoors. No matter what your preference, we’re sharing five ideas to #optoutside, so you can find one that works for you. We collaborated with our Account Coordinator, Lysianne Peacock, who is also the co-founder of the blog, Outspiration, to share five outdoor activities that everyone is bound to enjoy.
1. #OptOutside with a Picnic with Friends and Family
Planning a picnic for you and your friends or family can be done in a few easy steps.
- Find a good outdoor location
- Choose a time
- Pack a picnic blanket for guests to have dry spot to sit on the ground and to lay food out on. (Insider tip: a Tarpestry is part tarp-part picnic blanket meaning it keeps bottoms dry and can easily be shaken off and washed to use next time, even with spills)
- Find some activities to bring along (frisbee, soccer ball, etc.)
- Invite your friends or family to join you
- Most importantly, plan for the food
2. Work on Your Nature Photography Skills
Consider working on your nature photography skills as a way to #optoutside this Thanksgiving holiday. You don’t need a big fancy camera to take majestic photos of the wildlife and landscape around you. With a few tips, you can take National Geographic quality photos on your smartphone. From backyard birds, to the brightly colored leaves scattered about, there are so many beautiful things around that you’ll notice just by taking the time to focus, point and shoot. These nine tips from the Student Conservation Association are a great resource for first-timers: Nine Tips for Taking Brilliant Nature Photos on Your Smart Phone.
We also suggest grabbing a Pedco Ultrapod 3 to help you get the perfect shot! This tripod can easily fit in your pack and can hold a phone, many different camera styles, or even your binoculars for long viewing.
3. Choose to #OptOutside with Friends and a Campfire
Don’t feel like going camping? Have a campfire in your backyard, or if you’re in an area where campfires are prohibited, find an alternative like Ignik’s FireCan or perhaps a local brewery with controlled firepits to gather around. There’s just something about sitting around the fire and sharing stories that announce the arrival of the holiday season!
4. Organize a Neighborhood Clean-Up
Gather your family and friends and organize a neighborhood clean-up on “Green” Friday. This is a perfect activity for all ages to #optoutside and a great way to do something participants can feel proud of, while also enjoying the mental health benefits of socializing. For fun, give prizes to teams who collect the most trash, and then celebrate your good deeds with a post-clean up drink!
Don’t forget to be prepared with all the items you need such as:
- Garbage bags (make sure to have both landfill and recycling bags)
- Heavy-duty gloves
- Trash Pickers & Grabbers
- T-shirts or old clothing (outfits you don’t mind getting dirty)
- Orange vests for visibility if you’re on a busy road
5. Visit an Adventure Center
Adventure centers are becoming more and more popular across the country. From mountain biking to ziplining, ice skating, rock climbing, and ropes courses, a controlled environment, like found at an adventure center, proves to be great way to introduce family and friends of all skill levels to outdoor recreation! Here in Western NC, you can visit one of our client Wildwater’s five locations– including the Asheville Adventure Center, located outside downtown Asheville. Here, you’ll find fun for the entire family!
These are just a few alternative ideas to #optoutside for Black Friday, but we’d love to hear yours! If you’re interested in other suggestions, you can visit the entire post on OUTspiration or check out the recent post of our favorite outdoor spots in Western NC.