Turkey, football and the Macy’s Day Parade may be Thanksgiving go-tos, but the holiday can have so much more depth when you incorporate some truly unique family Thanksgiving traditions that will stick with people for years to come.
“Thanksgiving should be made up of rituals and customs we all remember forever,” says Jordan Stringfellow, owner of Jordi & CO Events, a Los Angeles-based event planning company that also specializes in seasonal decor and holiday table settings. "Passing on family traditions to our children and sharing them with a table full of blended friends and family is one of the most satisfying things a parent can do.”
Looking to add fun Thanksgiving traditions to your family’s holiday repertoire? Here are 10 meaningful and creative ideas the whole family will cherish.
1.Pass Around a Journal -“Simply pass a blank journal around the Thanksgiving table, asking all the guests to write at least one thing that they are thankful for. For kids too young to write, have an adult transcribe. Over the years, fill the book with comments and enjoy reading them aloud at Thanksgiving celebrations to come. It is truly wonderful to read how gratitude reflections change over time.”
2. Volunteer- One of the best Thanksgiving traditions for families? Volunteering together! Thanksgiving is a great time to give back to your community and help those in need — and it’s one of the richest customs you can incorporate into your family’s holiday.
3.Kick off the Holiday Season- These days, the December holiday season kicks off the second the last bite of pumpkin pie is eaten. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. Watch Christmas movies, wear Christmas pajamas....
4. Make room at the table- “Extend an invitation to an elderly neighbor whose family can’t visit or a coworker who’s far from home — and if they opt to stay home, take them a plate.” If doing the latter, though, Stringfellow advises towing a sensitivity line. “It’s important to be sensitive to the recipient,” Stringfellow says. “You don’t want to insult them or make them feel like they’re the object of charity. Sometimes this is best done by simply leaving the gift at the door and ringing the bell.”
5. Personalize the table- Have the kids put their beloved art skills to good use. “Making homemade place cards is something everyone can enjoy — and it makes the table that much more special,”
6. Have a special breakfast-While, yes, dinner is the meal on Thanksgiving, why not have a special breakfast, too?
7. Go for a morning family walk-it’s just a nice way to connect to nature and to each other. It’s the perfect beginning to a busy — and often stressful! — day.
8. Give kids an important job to do each year-Serving dessert? Making coffee? Setting the table? Help kids feel like an important part of the festivities by giving them “their” job each year.
9. Have a table toast- Let’s not forget what the most important part of Thanksgiving is: being thankful. If passing around a journal feels a little too formal for your family, have a roundtable toast. “Asking each guest to raise their glass — even if it’s a sippy cup full of milk — and make a toast about what they’re thankful for is a great way to start Thanksgiving dinner,” says Stringfellow. “Also, while it’s touching, don’t be surprised if elicits big time laughs!”
10. Play a thankful game