Thanksgiving Traditions
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Thanksgiving Traditions Your Family Will Love!

When we think about Thanksgiving, we automatically think about the massive, delicious feast for dinner.  But Thanksgiving is so much more than yummy food!  The Thanksgiving holiday is so unique because it shines a light on all that we are grateful for. That’s why Thanksgiving traditions are so wonderful to start with your family! 

When you start Thanksgiving traditions, you create moments that your family will look forward to.  These traditions might even be passed on for generations and bring such heartwarming memories.  

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Make A ‘Thankful Pumpkin’

When I first heard about the Thankful Pumpkin years ago, it immediately became one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions!

To make a Thankful Pumpkin, you will need one whole pumpkin that is a decent size.  If you have a leftover pumpkin that you didn’t carve for Halloween, that will work perfectly!

Then, all you do is write at least one thing your family is thankful for on the pumpkin each day until Thanksgiving.  You can either start at the top of the pumpkin and spiral your writing around it, or you can randomly jot down your words wherever you have room.

When it comes time to start the Thankful Pumpkin, I love having it in the center of the dinner table.  As you and your family enjoy dinner each night, you can talk about what you are thankful for and write it on the pumpkin!

Make A Special Breakfast – And Skip Lunch!

I don’t know about you, but our family has always eaten Thanksgiving dinner pretty early.  

Because dinner time is earlier than usual, we have always made a special breakfast and skipped lunch. If you want to make a special breakfast, it can be however big you want it to be!

A special breakfast can be as simple as store-bought cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, and bacon! As long as it’s delicious, everyone will be happy!

Cook Dinner Together

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner together has a lot of benefits!  The main advantage of cooking together is that you spend more quality time with your family, instead of slaving away in the kitchen alone.  

Another benefit to cooking together is that kids love to help with tasks, and many kids love to help cook! Because Thanksgiving dinner usually has many foods, it’s a fun idea to assign different dishes or parts of a dish to your children!

Growing up, my mom always had me help make the stuffing.  She would bake the bread, and once it was done, I had the task of breaking it apart into small enough pieces.  Every year, I looked forward to making the stuffing; I cherish those memories!

Try A New Recipe

A wonderful thing about Thanksgiving dinner is the family recipes that pass on each year.  A fun Thanksgiving tradition that will shake things up is to try out a new recipe!

Trying new recipes every year is a great way to make things a little different while still having the tried and true recipes that everyone loves.  And who knows, you might find a new family favorite to continue each year! 

Break The Wishbone 

Breaking the wishbone is another one of the Thanksgiving traditions that I always loved as a kid!

For this tradition, you will want to take the wishbone out of the turkey and let it dry out a little bit.  Drying out the wishbone will make it a little easier to break.  

Then, you will need two people to participate.  If you have many people who want to do it, you can draw two names or have a rock-paper-scissors contest to choose who gets to break the wishbone.

Once you have the two participants, you will have each person grab one side of the wishbone.  Each person will make a wish, and then they will pull their side of the wishbone. Whoever has the bigger side of the wishbone after it breaks will have their wish come true!

Read Some Thanksgiving Stories

Pete The Cat: The First Thanksgiving

Like many other holidays, there are some great stories to read with your kids about Thanksgiving! If your family would like to read stories about Thanksgiving, you can either read one story a night until Thanksgiving or read them all on the day of!

When it comes to picking out books about Thanksgiving, I like to go with a good mix of silly and more traditional stories.  Here are our top five books about Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Traditions Pin Image

Help Others

Because Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all you are thankful for, it’s the perfect time to give back to your community and help others.  

A great way to help others around Thanksgiving is by volunteering. Local food banks are bustling this time of year, and they are always grateful to receive any help that they can get!  

Volunteering at a food bank is also pretty kid-friendly; there is usually always something that kids can help with.

If you cannot donate your time, you can also consider donating food to the food bank.  If you aren’t sure what they might need, you can give them a call or check their website!

Make Thanksgiving Crafts

I love doing crafts with my kiddo, and I especially love it when we can have a theme to go with!  Holidays are the perfect time to make themed crafts, and there are always so many beautiful ideas on Pinterest. 

One of our favorite simple Thanksgiving crafts is to make a turkey using leaves.  All you do is go outside and find a great assortment of leaves in multiple sizes and colors.  Then, glue the leaves onto some construction paper or a paper plate to create the turkey’s feathers.  

Next, you or your child can cut out a large circle and a smaller circle for the turkey’s body and head. Glue the large circle to the leaves first, and then glue the smaller circle on top. 

Finally, cut out a beak, and glue it onto the head with some googly eyes for the finishing touches! 

Watch The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Who doesn’t love a good parade? Macy’s started their Thanksgiving Parade in 1924, and it has since become an iconic event every year. 

Children especially love watching the parade because of the beloved character floats and upbeat music performances.  

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - Thanksgiving Traditions

Watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has also been a Thanksgiving tradition that my family has done since I was little, and my husband and I have continued to watch it with our own family!

‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ is one of the cutest Thanksgiving traditions that people of all ages will love. If you have never seen this Thanksgiving cartoon, it’s a quick half-hour show that teaches us to be thankful for everything we have.  

Host A Pie Party

Thanksgiving is a holiday known for having pie desserts, pumpkin pie usually being the start of the show.  

A fun Thanksgiving tradition to start is to host a pie party!  The fantastic thing about starting a pie party is that you can make up the rules however you want!

A suggestion for a pie party could be to ask that each person or family brings a pie to dinner.  After dinner, when it’s time to dig into the pies, you can all vote on the best pie, and that person/family can win a small prize!

Do A Turkey Trot

If you have an active family that loves to get outside, a Turkey Trot might be a perfect fit! 

A Turkey Trot is typically a 5K walk or run (which is about 3 miles long) on the morning of Thanksgiving.  There is usually a small sign-up fee that will get donated to a local charity.  

Turkey Trots are so fun because many people dress up as turkeys or wear fall-colored tutus to run/walk in. It’s a great event in your community with tons of Thanksgiving spirit!  

If you are unsure if your area has a Turkey Trot, you can just Google ‘Turkey Trot (town name),’ and you should be able to find one near you!

Let The Kids Set The Table

Setting the table can be a big job, depending on how large your group is!  If you assign this task to the children in the house, it can help them feel like they have received a critical job to do. 

As long as the kids are old enough to set the table without breaking the dinnerware, give them simple instructions, and let them have at it! It’s so cute to watch them take this task seriously and put their hearts into it.  

Another fun thing that kids can do while setting the table is to make a centerpiece.  You can help them cut flowers from the yard or make the centerpiece using craft supplies.  

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Get Outside After Dinner

After enjoying a terrific Thanksgiving dinner together, it can be great to get outside in the crisp fall air. (Especially to avoid falling asleep 😉 )

You can take a quick walk around the block, play in some leaf piles, or even toss a football around.  Anything that gets your family and friends outside together will be fun and memorable. For more fall outdoor activity ideas, check out this post!

Play Some Card Or Board Games

While you wait on dinner to finish, or even after dinner, playing games together can be such amazing quality time.

Whether it’s a quick game of Uno, or a long, invested game of Monopoly, laughing and having fun together really makes you so grateful for the people close to you!

Have A Fall Scavenger Hunt

Another fun activity to do with kids on Thanksgiving is to have a Fall scavenger hunt!  

A scavenger hunt can be a great activity to do when kids are starting to get antsy about when dinner will be ready.  You can get the kids outside and moving, all while having a blast!

To get started, download the free Fall Scavenger Hunt printable below and print one for each child.  Then, have an adult team up with each child or a small group of children to help find each item in your yard or neighborhood!

Fall Scavenger Hunt Free Printable

Personalize The Table With Thankful Cards

Making thankful cards gets you thinking about the people in your life and why you are grateful for them. When making thankful cards, you think about the person you are writing for and why you are thankful for that specific person.

There are a couple of ways you can customize this Thanksgiving tradition for your family.  The first way you can do this thankful card tradition is to have your kids help you make the cards as a surprise for your guests.

The second way is to make thankful cards an activity for your whole party. All you need to do is set up a small table with all the supplies you need to make the cards, like blank cards and nice pens.  Next, put each of your guests’ names in a bowl, and have each person draw a name. 

Then, everyone will make a thankful card for the person they got and put the card at a place setting on the table.  When it’s time for dinner, each person will find their spot at the table and read their card.  

You can have everyone read their card aloud, or you can keep it private.  Either way, your family will cherish this Thanksgiving tradition!

Start A Gratitude Jar

A gratitude jar is one of the most terrific Thanksgiving traditions that will get you thinking about the good things in your life all year round.

To start a gratitude jar, you will need small slips of paper and a large jar, preferably with a lid.  

In the beginning, you should talk with your family to decide how often you want to add to the gratitude jar.  This activity could be daily, weekly, monthly, or even just whenever you think about it!

After you decide on the frequency, each family member will write something they are grateful for and slip it into the jar. You can have everyone write their names on their slips or leave it anonymous; either way you prefer!

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, you can open the gratitude jar and read all of the mementos together.  Reading all of the slips is a great way to start the day happily!

Start A Memory Journal

Family Memory Journal - Thanksgiving Traditions

A memory journal is one of the most exceptional Thanksgiving traditions because memories slip away so easily.  

If you want to start a memory journal with your family, you need an excellent quality journal.  Once you have a journal, you will pass it around to each person at your Thanksgiving gathering.  This could be at dinner, or after, maybe even during dessert time!

Each person will write down a memory or two from the year that they cherish.  Ideally, this will be a memory that includes another family member or maybe a significant personal accomplishment. It’s best if it’s a memory that makes other people in your family smile as they read it.  

Then, once Thanksgiving is over, you will put the journal in a safe place until the following year.  Next Thanksgiving, you can pick up where you left off the previous year, and all of the memories will be in one place. 

Take A Family Photo

Life can get busy, and it can be challenging to get all of your loved ones in one place at one time. That’s why Thanksgiving day is perfect for getting a family photo!

The great thing about taking family photos yourself is that they are full of character.  Everyone might not look perfect; someone might not be smiling, or they might have blinked during the picture, but they are just as unique to look back on.  

If you choose to start a memory journal, it can be wonderful to add your family photo to the book after everyone has had their turn. Adding the picture to the journal makes it easily accessible for everyone to look back on the following year.  

There you have it; 20 memorable Thanksgiving traditions you can start with your family.  I hope you found plenty of new traditions to try out. I’m sure your family will love creating something fresh!

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What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?  Are there any traditions you have kept going since you were a child?  I would love to know in the comments below!

Rachel Sig 3

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