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8 Fun & Simple Thanksgiving Traditions



Thanksgiving is a day to show gratitude for all of the wonderful things in life. For most, the things that top their “I’m thankful for…” lists aren’t things at all. We are most thankful for our friends and family. Here are a few great ways to show your loved ones just how thankful you are to have them in your life and to help make the holiday just a bit more special.

With the Kids

  • Create a table runner that spans across their childhood. Buy a simple runner, in a tan or creme color, and a bit of colored fabric paint. Then, each year, have your children put a handprint on the runner. Place the year next to the handprints as well. Then, each year you can look back to see how much they’ve grown!
  • Bake together. The night before Thanksgiving, get the kids in the kitchen to make all the desserts for the next day. Even the smallest kid can help stir! You won’t just be making pies; you’ll be making some sweet memories.
  • Hang an “I’m Thankful For…” board. On the first of the month, hang a chalkboard in an area of your house that gets a lot of traffic. Write, “I’m thankful for…” in large letters on the top. Then, as the days pass, you and your family can add the everyday things that you feel grateful for. Feel free to write everything from the names of loved ones to your favorite foods. The goal is to fill the board by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.
  • Play an “I’m thankful for…” memory game. This game is similar to the “Going on a Picnic Game.” The first person will say, “This year, on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for…,” and they will insert an item. For example, they may say, “This year, on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family.” Then the second person would say, “This year, on Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and my dog.” Then the third person would say they are thankful for the family, dog, and one other thing. This continues round robin until someone messes up the list. It’s good to help kids develop their memory, and it can be fun to think of new things to be grateful for.

Related: Thanksgiving Activity Ideas for the Whole Family

On the Big Day

  • Create placeholders. As your guests arrive, have them create a placeholder. It can be shaped like a leaf, turkey, pumpkin, or anything else related to Thanksgiving. They can personalize it with their name and a bit of decoration. It’s fun to see what everyone comes up with, and it will eliminate the chair scramble that always happens when the food is ready.
  • Make a Gratitude Garland. Have several different-shaped leaves cut out from orange, red, and yellow construction paper. Then, as people enjoy the day, they can write down the things they are thankful for. Have a wire or string hung, and put out clothespins for people to hang their leaves. By the end of the day, you’ll have a lovely decoration that displays what you and your loved ones are thankful for.
  • Play a game of “White Turkey.” This game is just like White Elephant. Each person brings a gift. However, it must be one of the things that they are grateful for this year. Draw numbers. The person who draws number 1 gets to pick a gift first. They open it. The person with number 2 picks a second gift. They can either keep their gift or steal the previously opened present. This continues until everyone has a new present.
  • Put out a Thankful Pumpkin. This one is easy, and it can make a great decoration for the party. Buy a large pumpkin, and paint it a neutral color, like white or creme. Then, as guests arrive, they can use a permanent marker to write something they’re thankful for somewhere on the pumpkin. At dinner, read off each response, and have your guests see if they can figure out who wrote which item.

Traditions aren’t about perfection or competition. They’re about having fun, spending quality time together, and making some great memories. Take the time this Thanksgiving to give your loved ones a little something extra to make the day special and to help them remember why we celebrate this wonderful holiday.