Dreams and nightmares: Mooching on turkey day is the best — but what if the fam comes to you?

Basically, Thanksgiving is a student’s dream of a holiday. After having subsisted on nothing but eggs and salted peanuts for weeks on end, we get to go home and crash and do nothing but get fed constantly. And unlike all the winter holidays, we’re not required to do anything in return except make the cranberry sauce and be pleasant to that one, omnipresent, cantankerous aunt.

But what if your family made you the host this year, descending with well-intentioned glee at seeing “your new life,” even though you tried to protest that you make do with a hot plate and the last time you saw your wine opener you were using it to clean out the drain? Or what if you and your friends decided you were fed up with extended families and you’re all going to celebrate together in Boulder with one disorganized evening of food-related chaos? What if you just hate Thanksgiving and every year you pretend it doesn’t exist?

Well, I do one or more of these things every year, here in Boulder. And I have some cheap ideas to make the week fun — even if you do have a full family in town and no wine opener to keep them happy.

The Turkey Trot is a fun 5k that takes place at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning at CU’s Potts Field, in the CU Research Park by East Campus. Registration is only $15 pre-race day (which is actually quite cheap compared to most race fees). The race benefits Community Food Share, definitely a worthy cause, and best, all finishers get a gift certificate to Turley’s restaurant. You’ll get the satisfaction of beating your relatives with their puny sea-level lungs, but convince the curmudgeons in your group to join by reminding them it’ll work up a great appetite for later.

To my mind, skiing is the perfect holiday day-filler. I mean, it’s what we’re all going to be doing anyway, but it’s easy to haul any extras up there as well. Some ski passes have half-off type guest passes, which makes it cheap for the day-trippers. And at least I’m always psyched enough to just be in! the! snow! that I don’t mind spending a day or two on the bunny slope (OK, maybe with a few forays to the big mountain, too.)

If it hasn’t snowed too much yet, you could also get in a last few days of really good rock climbing. No classes later in the day, no school on Monday — the lack of pressure makes me climb worse, actually, but it’s so much more fun. If you have out-of-towners, maybe take them to a gym to warm them up first (they’re probably free if you’re a member) — but if not, then go knock yourself out (not literally) on the south side of your favorite crag.

It seems like everything I’ve just written has to do with being outside as much as possible — I guess you know where my priorities lie. But if you’re not so outdoor-minded, or the weather’s bad, make an excursion to Golden and visit the Mountaineering Museum and the Coors Brewery. Minimal entrance fees, and free beer too — who’s not in? Then if all else fails, suck it up and buy a new wine opener — and let the chaos ensue.

Vivian Underhill is an environmental sciences major at CU and writes about being cheap once a week for the Colorado Daily.