50+ Thanksgiving Traditions Ideas for Your Family

I'm always a little surprised at how quickly Thanksgiving sneaks up on me and our family. We spend so much time planning for Halloween and for Christmas that I know I mentally take a break in between the two. And then Thanksgiving arrives and I'm barely getting the meal together, much less focusing on the holiday. But Thanksgiving is such an important thing!  This year we're hosting Thanksgiving at our house for the first time and so it's the perfect year to start some new traditions.  

So to get some new ideas, I polled you all and got so many great Thanksgiving tradition ideas. I've got a great list of ways to play, serve, decorate, eat, include the kids and prepare for Christmas during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I've starred a few that I'm hoping to include this year and I'm sure we'll continue to add when we find out what works for us.  Enjoy!
  • Participate in a Thanksgiving Fun Run or Turkey Trot. 
  • If your area doesn't have a Turkey Trot 5k, plan your own family run!
  • Put together a Corn Hole Tournament or other yard games.
  • Plan a backyard game of football as a family or with friends.
  • If you live in area where it snows, go snow shoeing or hiking.
  • Watch (or attend) the Macy's Day Parade.
  • Watch a football game and eat pie during halftime.
  • Play cards or board games between dinner and dessert.
  • Put on a family talent show or play charades.
  • Take a post-dinner walk with the entire family. 
  • Do a family dress up in costumes of Halloween past.
  • Play a different game of Hide and Go Seek in the dark. Turn all of the lights off for the kids to play while all of the adults gather in one lit room. 
  • Karaoke as a family. 
  • Plan your Black Friday shopping.
  • Get outside on a personal walk or run to get fresh air and think thankful thoughts. 
  • Have a white elephant gift exchange with grab bags or crummy presents. 
  • Have a marshmallow fight with marshmallow guns or like snowball fight.
  • Have a Nerf gun war. 
  • Pull out the LONG board or card games like Phase 10, Risk or Settlers of Catan.
  • Put together a 1000 piece puzzle as a family. 

  • Find a soup kitchen where you can spend part of the day serving or delivering meals to the homeless or less fortunate.
  • Put together blessing bags for the homeless.
  • Invite members of the military or someone with no family over for dinner and to spend the day.
  • Make and take a treat to school teachers the week of Thanksgiving.
  • Create a table for making thank you notes during the day and use them during the upcoming holiday season. 
  • Write thank you notes to teachers, service men, doctors and anyone else who may not get enough thanks. Deliver them with treats. 

  • Pull different colored leaves from trees outside and write everyone's names on them as their place cards. 
  • Sign or write thankful notes on a white tablecloth with a Sharpie. Use the same one every year and add to the tradition.
  • Let the kids make place cards for each family member. 
  • Set out nut cups or some traditional snack with each plate. 
  • Put out a Grateful Book/Journal and have every person who attends Thanksgiving sign it each year. 
  • Put three candy corn at each place- each person has to share three things they are grateful for before the meal.
  • Use a Polaroid camera to snap pics throughout the day- save them in a book or pull them out to decorate with next year. 

  • Prepare your dishes the day before and spend less time cooking on the holiday.
  • Homemade Chex Mix
  • Trace hands on a white table cloth and then hand stitch the prints.
  • Homemade pies.
  • Make Thanksgiving a potluck where everyone gets to contribute and take the load off of Mom or Grandma.
  • Have a pie or turkey baking contest- with trophies!
  • Regather as a family over the holiday weekend to eat leftovers. The left overs always taste better!
  • Serve homemade hot chocolate or mochas. Try a hot chocolate bar!

  • Make a turkey out of paper with your kids and each day throughout the month or week leading up to Thanksgiving write something they are thankful for on it. 
  • Create a Thankful Tree on a wall or a window and add leaves of gratitude all month long.
  •  Each night in November take turns saying something you are thankful for and put a corn kernel in a jar. On Thanksgiving evening pop and enjoy your "Graditude Popcorn".
  • Turn your un-carved Halloween pumpkins into turkey's by adding a head and eyes and gratitude feathers throughout the week or month. 
  • Put the kids in charge of after-dinner entertainment. Have them put on a concert, a show or a skit. 
  • Make handprint turkeys with paint and paper. Use them to decorate or as cards.

  • Decorate for Christmas AS SOON as dinner is over. 
  • Choose Secret Santa names or draw sibling names for Christmas gifts. 
  • Watch A Miracle on 34th Street or another Christmas movie. 
  • Gift Christmas books to each child or family with a note from the giver.
  • The day after Thanksgiving go cut down your own tree. Make it a tradition by adding brunch!
  • Put up the Christmas lights.
  • Have a movie marathon. 
  • Attend a tree lighting or other lighting ceremony.

I'd love to hear your ideas for how you celebrate, enjoy and show gratitude during the Thanksgiving holiday. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below!

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