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15 Traditions On Thanksgiving Day

15 Traditions On Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving traditions


The holiday of Thanksgiving is more than just eating turkey.  It’s a holiday based around the concept of thankfulness.

Many families will sit down to a home cooked dinner with their favorite comfort foods.  But is that all your family does on Thanksgiving is eat?

If so, change the way your family does traditions for Thanksgiving!

Start this year by including some fun new Thanksgiving traditions to be passed down in your family.  Here are 15 traditions on Thanksgiving day that are sure to fit any family’s personality.

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15 Traditions On Thanksgiving Day To Start This Year

1. Donate To A Local Charity

During the holiday season there is no shortage of charity programs.  Some of the best your family can donate to are in your local area.  So pay attention to flyers, newspapers or radio stations that announce local charities in need.

The holiday season, especially Thanksgiving is all about giving.  It’s in the title of the holiday.  So why not make it a Thanksgiving tradition to give back to others in your area.

Two charity programs that happen in my area each year is Coats For Kids and Toys For Tots.  Both charities are amazing programs that help local children in need.

Imagine if your family couldn’t afford coats or toys for your children?

That’s the reality for some families.  Help a child in need by donating a coat to keep him/her warm and toys to make their Christmas wishes come true!

There’s no better feeling than giving to children and families in need!

2. Watch A Holiday Movie

This is a pretty simple tradition.  But, your children will love it!

There’s not many Thanksgiving movies out there.  But you can always watch one of the millions of Christmas movies to get in the holiday spirit!  Here’s some of my favorite Holiday movies that are also kid friendly…

3. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

When I think of Thanksgiving… I always think of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I watch it every year!

Although the parade seems to be on all day.  I leave it on the TV and hear it in the background while cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

There’s so much to love about the parade!  From the balloons that weigh hundreds of pounds to the guest singing performances…  Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a tradition that your family can carry on for years to come.

4. Start Christmas Decorating

Thanksgiving is a month before Christmas.  Why not make it a Thanksgiving tradition to get a start of Christmas decorations?

Most families typically have more Christmas decorations than Thanksgiving decorations.  It only makes sense to spend part of your day getting excited for the Christmas season.

Here’s some amazing ideas to decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving…

  • Decorate the Christmas tree together as a family
  • Go to a Christmas tree lot and bring a real tree home with you to set up
  • Decorate the outside of your home with lights

5. Give Turkeys To Those In Need

When your family always has a turkey or ham for Thanksgiving, you tend to forget there’s families out there without a decent meal.

Turkey’s are part of Thanksgiving traditions that lived on in America since it was declared a holiday in 1863.

Think about the last time you bought a turkey, how much was it?  For some families, the cost of a turkey dinner is too much.

Why not off-set the cost of a turkey by donating a couple turkey’s to families in need.

One of the best Thanksgiving’s I remember was when my grandparents were alive.  We participated in a local bingo game and ended up winning five turkeys!  We then went and delivered turkey’s to families in need.

My grandparents taught me a valuable lesson that Thanksgiving…  Giving to others, even something as simple as a turkey is what Thanksgiving is all about.

Or Instead of providing turkey’s you could…

6. Host A Family

If you know a family in need, why not invite them over for some turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Sometimes the more the merry needs to be applied for the holidays.

I come from a very small family.  I always wished growing up we had more people sitting around the dinner table around the holidays.

But what’s even better is helping a family in need of a warm meal and welcoming conversation.

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7. Bake A Pie For Your Neighbor

Sometimes the best way to show thankfulness is by showing to the people near us.  We tend to forget about our neighbors.  We’re so involved in our own lives that the people we live right next door to are not neighbors, but strangers.

This is a perfect Thanksgiving tradition to start this year, especially if you and your neighbors haven’t always seen eye-to-eye.

Bake a pumpkin pie.  Show up at your neighbor’s door and wish them a “Happy Holidays” or a “Happy Turkey Day!”  A small gesture of baking and giving a pie to someone goes along way in mending differences.

That simple gesture of baking and giving speaks volumes about thankfulness and also forgiveness.

8. Forget About The Turkey

Amazingly, some people actually hate turkey!  I can understand that… It takes days to defrost, hours to cook and you’re stuck with eating turkey sandwiches for a week.

I personally love turkey and can’t image Thanksgiving dinner without it!  But, if you’re not a turkey fan…

Why not start a new Thanksgiving tradition of not eating Turkey?  Or even if you do like turkey, why not switch it up with something different to eat?

Be adventurous!  How about replacing turkey with…

  • Honey glazed ham
  • Rack of lamb
  • Bree Brisket
  • Maple Dijon chicken
  • Grilled salmon
  • Roast beef
  • Butternut squash (vegetarian option)

9. Start A Giving Plate

Have you heard of a giving plate?

A giving plate is a plate with a thoughtful note that continues to get passed on from person to person.  You can fill these plates with almost anything…

Traditionally, traditions for Thanksgiving like this one, most people fill them with cookies.  But you can fill them with anything that fits on the plate.  I always like to make my grandmother’s holiday cookies to put on a giving plate.

Once you gift the cookies and plate to someone, that same person then gifts the giving plate to another.  And the giving continues.

Best yet!  You can write a special message on the back of the plate with permanent marker.  Always make sure you seal it properly though.

10. Serve At A Soup Kitchen

Since Thanksgiving is all about giving, the best place to give is to those in need.  Many soup kitchens and homeless shelters are always in need to volunteers!  Especially around the holidays.

On Thanksgiving, you can donate your time at a homeless shelter by serving turkey dinner.  You don’t have to stay all day.  Just a couple hours is helpful!

If you can’t find the time to serve, why not donate something else to homeless shelters?  Did you know the most requested item at homeless shelters is socks?

Everyday necessities like soaps, socks, tampons/pads and much more are all needed at homeless shelters.  Why not donate to homeless shelters to provide simple necessities for those that need them the most.

11. Say What You’re Thankful For

This is definitely one of the kindest Thanksgiving traditions at my house.

While sitting around the table before everyone dives into the food, we all say what we are thankful for.

If your families to shy to say what they’re thankful for out loud, try giving out small pieces of paper and pens/pencils for everyone to write something down.  Then collect them in a hat and pick and read them at random!

After they have been read, you can keep the pieces of paper to put on the fridge, door or mantle to remind your family every day what you’re thankful for!

12. Try A Day Of Social Media Detox

During the holidays your family is are the most important people to spend time with.

Devote all your time to them by making it a Thanksgiving tradition of staying of social media.

Yes, I’m sure your friends would love to see pictures of your kids and your yummy Thanksgiving dinner…  But it’s nothing that can’t wait.  Give your undivided attention to your spouse, children and the rest of the family.

One day of social media detox is not going to kill you and you won’t be missing much in other people’s lives.  Everyone else is spending time with family and having turkey dinner too!

So stay off social media and make memories with your family this year!

13. Play Touch Football

Around Thanksgiving, the football season is in full swing.

If you love football and have a big enough family, have everyone join the fun by bundling up and heading outside for a game of touch football.

Instead of just touch football, your family could always play flag football too.  If football doesn’t fit your family’s liking, you could always…

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14. Have A Nurf Gun War

The best thing about a Nurf gun war is that you can play indoors or outdoors.  Whether your just want to have some family fun or you (secretly) want to take your frustrations out on your in-laws…

A Nurf gun war is fun for the whole family!

I’m actually hoping to make this one of my future traditions for Thanksgiving in the years to come!  I think this would be outrageously fun!

If you’re in need of Nurf guns for your epic Thanksgiving Nurf gun war, just click HERE.

15. Tell The Story Of Thanksgiving

Although people all over the United States celebrate the holiday, many don’t know the full story of how Thanksgiving came to be.  To fully understand the holiday, do some research so you can tell the story to the whole family over dinner.

Or make it easier for yourself by buying a book about Thanksgiving to tell everyone the meaning of the holiday.  Here’s some options to read on Thanksgiving that are kid friendly.


traditions on thanksgiving day

Final Thoughts About Traditions On Thansgiving Day

Thanksgiving is more than just turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mashed potatoes.  It’s about…

  • Being thankful for things in your life
  • Remembering to give to others
  • Being together with your loved ones

Foster giving, thankfulness and togetherness by including some of these 15 Thanksgiving traditions this year.  From giving turkeys to helping at a homeless shelter to playing touch football, there’s something for every family on this list!

So what are you waiting for?  Change things up this year for the holidays and try a new Thanksgiving tradition your family will love.

What are some of your family’s Thanksgiving traditions?



Works Cited

15 delicious turkey alternatives to serve this Thanksgiving

Why we eat what we eat on Thanksgiving

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