15 Thanksgiving Family Traditions to Start this Year

Looking for fun, easy Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family? Look no further!

1. Feast on a Big Yummy Breakfast

If your Thanksgiving is anything like ours, it consists of a two-meal day. Starting it off with a fun and yummy breakfast like mickey shaped pancakes, homemade waffles or everyone’s favorite gooey sticky buns is sure to be a hit. Add in a side of greek yogurt or oatmeal and fruit to, ya know, feel better about it all. 

2. Write Letters of Thanks

After breakfast, make it a festive project to write a card or letter of gratitude (these ones are super cute – so are these watercolor ones!) to someone in your life. Everyone can join in on writing their own letter (or quick card) to someone who deserves it like a friend, neighbor, relative, teacher or co-worker. Throw on a stamp and take a walk to the mailbox together. The kid’s cards can be a busy craft in themselves with stickers and coloring!

3. A Grateful Project

Get yourself set-up for a thankful dinner by preparing a way for everyone to openly share what they are thankful for. You could use a poster board with colorful markers, or a big home chalkboard (or mini ones for all your guests to write on!). You could even use a white cloth tablecloth to write with sharpies or a roll of craft paper over it on for all the messages of gratitude! Recognizing what we are thankful for and proud of it goes along way in the spirit of things! Making the exercise a featured activity can offer lot in the spirit department! 

4. Wear Festive Clothing

Who says dressing up to go to your own dining room can’t be fun? Whether you are staying home or going to mom’s or a friends house- get gussied up! If dressing “up” isn’t your style – dress festive in a fun shirt or sweater! Try this Gobble Gobble (or just one gobble!) shirt for women, something cheeky for the men, these cute shirts for your boys or some sweet attire for your girl

5. Thanksgiving Crafts

Start the morning off with thanksgiving crafts you can use to decorate the house or the dining table. The kids will love having a project they can proudly display. If your children are old enough, having a craft might just keep them busy enough for you to finish cooking! I use to REALLY love doing Thanksgiving Apple Turkeys as a kid.

Check out this Outus Thanksgiving Pumpkin Turkey Making Kit, these turkey necklaces, this coloring book, or sort through this huge list of DIY ideas!  

6. Family Flag Football 

If you have a get together big enough for a game – do it! Flag football is a fun way to get everyone involved in some physical fitness – and get some fresh air and energy out! Even if not all family members or guests want to run around the backyard – they can cheer on the kids on the sidelines while enjoying some hot (spiked) cider

7. Bet on the Game 

America. Football. Turkey. It all goes hand-in-hand, doesn’t it? Even if you aren’t big into football, betting on the Thanksgiving Day game can be a lot of fun for everyone (who doesn’t like winning?!). Even just a dollar a person can be enough to spice things up! Let the kids in on the fun if they are old enough. 

8. Run a Turkey Trot

I saw a funny meme the other day that said “before deciding to marry someone, first find out if there family is a ‘run a 5K’ or ‘drink mimosas’ on a holiday morning kind-of-family.” Seems like a good point. I, myself, used to run a lot but since having kids I, er, never run. Though one of my fondest Thanksgiving memories in the last decade was a morning running the San Francisco Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. We ran with friends, had a great time in the fresh air and felt totally ready to conquer a big meal that afternoon. Get your family moving by finding a Turkey Trot near you – runners and walkers welcome! 

9. Thanksgiving Reads 

Hit up your local library or visit Prime it on Amazon to bring some reading into your Turkey day. Thanksgiving books can be a great part of the holiday to really get in the mood! 

10. Family Made Dessert

Whether you are into pie, cakes, or cookies – make it a family affair! Find a way for your kids to get involved with preparing dessert. They will be so excited for everyone to enjoy their hard work at the end of the big event! 

11. Volunteer Together

Volunteering on Thanksgiving might sound great in theory but it definitely can be hard for a busy family to prepare a meal and take care of the kids home from school and go out to do some good. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make it a tradition to volunteer the day before or the day after Thanksgiving to keep in the spirit. Or, split the team up and one parent stay home to prep and the other brings the crew out for some hard work – like picking up trash, planting trees, or volunteering in a soup kitchen. You can even contact your local nursing homes or hospital to see if anyone there needs some special visitors on Thanksgiving morning who might not have family around. 

12. Go for a Post- or Pre- Meal Walk 

This one isn’t a new concept but it is always a nice one. Get the whole family going for a walk around the neighborhood or someplace special like a seawall or beautiful bike path before or after your gathering. Making room for all that food by getting the body moving, or helping digestion take its course with a walk around the neighborhood can feel really good. It is also helpful to change up the environment over the course of the day, getting outside to see some autumn leaves and breathe in some fresh air can be a really great addition to the day. 

13. Take a Family Photo

Gather the group for a big, happy photo! Taking a picture every year is an awesome way to capture the years, changes and jog your memory over time. We love looking back at “remember this day” (thank you Google photos). If you remember to take a group photo every year – you’ll have such a fun collage of Thanksgiving captured memories in the end (“oh! This Thanksgiving was the one Aunt Jane threw-up pumpkin pie!).

Grab a selfie stick or iPhone tripod to make sure everyone can be in the frame! 

14. Play a Game 

Charades, Pictionary and Monopoly (Jr.) are nothing new – but there is a reason wise – group games for the whole family are a lot of fun. We also love The Fish Bowl Game and Werewolf for big groups! As a smaller family – we like to play Hedbanz, Dog Royal, Pandemic and Code Names for the adults! For the whole group there is also Thanksgiving Bingo during dessert – right!?  

15. Watch Your Favorite Thanksgiving Episodes 

After the kids go to bed (or while the are awake!) indulge in some fan favorites. With Netflix, Hulu and Prime at our fingertips, it is an easy era to indulge in our favorite Friends Thanksgiving episodes (or what have you – Friends just happens to be mine!).