It’s not just about the turkey on Thanksgiving.
A celebration dedicated to giving thanks to one’s many blessings.
Many households will gather at the dinner table to enjoy a meal of home cooking and familiar fare.
But does eating constitute the entirety of your Thanksgiving traditions?
Perhaps it’s time to shake up your Thanksgiving traditions.
Create some new, memorable Thanksgiving customs for your family to pass along starting this year.
This list of 15 Thanksgiving customs is guaranteed to include something that works for your family.
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15 Traditions On Thanksgiving Day To Start This Year
1. Donate To A Local Charity
There is no scarcity of giving opportunities over the Christmas season.
The charities in your neighborhood are some of the best your family can support financially.
So, keep an eye out for fliers, newspapers, and radio stations announcing the needs of local charity.
Giving is at the heart of the holiday season and Thanksgiving in particular. The word “holiday” is included in the name.
Why not make helping those less fortunate a part of your annual Thanksgiving ritual?
Coats for Kids and Toys for Tots are two annual charity events in my community.
Each organization does fantastic work to aid kids in their communities.
Consider what it would be like if your family couldn’t afford winter clothing or toys for the kids.
Truth be told, that’s the situation for some households.
During this holiday season, please consider donating a warm coat and some toys to a youngster in need.
Helping kids and their families in need is the most rewarding work you can do.
2. Watch A Holiday Movie
Traditions don’t get much easier than this. However, it will be a big hit with the kids.
In the movie world, Thanksgiving is a relatively untapped niche.
Luckily, there are countless holiday-themed films you may watch to get in the mood.
Here are some of my all-time favorite family-friendly holiday films:
- The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3
- Free Birds
- The Year Without A Santa Clause
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas
- Home Alone
- Jingle All The Way
- A Christmas Story
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- White Christmas
3. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think about Thanksgiving.
Annually, I make sure to catch it!
While I’m preparing the Thanksgiving feast, I leave the TV on so I can enjoy the music.
There is a lot to enjoy about the parade. Everything from hundreds of balloons to special musical guests…
One Thanksgiving ritual that can be passed down the generations is watching the Macy’s Day Parade.
4. Start Christmas Decorating
To put it simply, Thanksgiving is one month prior to the holiday season’s peak.
Why not start hanging up Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving?
In most homes, Christmas decorations outnumber Thanksgiving ones.
It’s reasonable to devote some time each day to anticipating the holiday season.
Take a look at these fantastic tips for putting up Christmas decorations in November…
- 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
How about inviting a family in need home for Thanksgiving dinner?
You may serve them all the traditional fixings, plus sides and dessert.
For the holidays, the maxim “the more, the merrier,” is sometimes appropriate.
My family is extremely close-knit and contains only four members total.
Even as a kid, I remember wishing that more of my family could join us for holiday meals.
What’s even better is being able to provide a family with a home-cooked meal and friendly company.
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7. Bake A Pie For Your Neighbor
The individuals closest to us are often the recipients of our most heartfelt displays of gratitude.
When we do that, we neglect our neighbors and that’s not good.
We’re so absorbed in our own lives that the individuals we live directly next door to are not neighbors, but strangers.
If you and your neighbors haven’t always agreed on much, this would be a great year to establish this Thanksgiving tradition.
To illustrate this, I recommend you bake a pumpkin pie.
Visit your neighbor’s house to wish them a good Thanksgiving or holiday season.
Baking and delivering a pie can go a long way toward repairing fences.
Baking and giving to others is a powerful act of gratitude and forgiveness.
8. Forget About The Turkey
To my amazement, there are those who actively dislike turkey. That makes perfect sense to me…
Your week’s worth of meals will consist of turkey sandwiches because it takes so long to defrost and cook.
To this day, I have never attended a Thanksgiving dinner when turkey was not served.
Instead of eating turkey every year for Thanksgiving, why not start a new tradition?
Try new things! How about something other than turkey?
- Honey glazed ham
- Rack of lamb
- Bree Brisket
- Maple Dijon chicken
- Grilled salmon
- Roast beef
- Butternut squash (vegetarian option)
9. Start A Giving Plate
A donation plate, perhaps?
A giving plate is one that has a heartfelt message written on it and is passed on from one person to the next.
These plates are so versatile, you can eat nearly anything off of them…
The majority of modern adherents to such Thanksgiving customs fill them with cookies.
However, they can be stuffed with whatever you like provided it would fit on the plate.
At the holidays, I love to bake a batch of my grandmother’s cookies to share.
If you give someone a plate of cookies together with a plate of generosity, that person can pass the plate on to someone else.
Also, the generosity hasn’t stopped there.
The back of the plate is blank, waiting for your personal message with permanent marker. But always make sure it’s properly sealed.
10. Serve At A Soup Kitchen
Since Thanksgiving is about generosity, helping those in need is a fitting way to celebrate the holiday.
Volunteers are needed constantly at several restaurants and shelters for the homeless.
Especially during the winter season.
Serving a Thanksgiving meal to those in need is a great way to volunteer your time on Thanksgiving.
You need not spend the whole day here. A few hours can make a huge difference!
If you’re unable to give of your time, consider making a monetary or in-kind donation to a local homeless shelter instead.
Have you heard that socks are the item most frequently requested at homeless sanctuaries?
Homeless shelters need basic toiletries like soap, socks, tampons, and pads.
Why not help those in need by making a donation to a homeless shelter where they may use it to get food, clothing, and other necessities.
11. Say What You’re Thankful For
My family has one of the most generous Thanksgiving customs.
Everyone at the table takes a moment before digging in to share what they are grateful for.
If your family members are too bashful to express their gratitude aloud, you can always pass out slips of paper.
Put them all in a hat and choose one at random to read!
After reading them, preserve the slips of paper to post on the family’s refrigerator, door, or mantle as a daily reminder of what they have to be grateful for.
12. Try A Day Of Social Media Detox
Spending time with loved ones, especially family, is a top priority throughout the Christmas season.
Make it a Thanksgiving habit to disconnect from all your devices and focus solely on spending time with loved ones.
Your friends and family would love to see photos of your family and the delicious Thanksgiving meal you prepared, I’m sure of it. However, there is no pressing necessity at this time.
Spend quality time with your loved ones, including your husband, kids, and other relatives.
You won’t miss much in terms of other people’s life if you take a break from social media for a single day.
Everyone else is doing the same thing you are doing right now: spending time with loved ones and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Avoid checking your feeds and spend this time with loved ones.
13. Play Touch Football
After Thanksgiving, football games become more frequent.
If you and your loved ones are ardent football fans, bundle up and walk outside for a game of touch football.
There is always the option of playing flag football as a family instead of touch football.
Consider touch football if football isn’t your family’s thing.
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14. Have A Nurf Gun War
Whether you’re stuck inside or out, a Nurf gun battle is always a good time. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted way to spend time with the family or a sneaky way to vent your anger toward your in-laws, here are some ideas.
All ages can enjoy an epic Nurf gun battle.
In fact, I’m planning on making this an annual event for Thanksgiving to come. This sounds like a crazy good time to me!
If you’re looking for Nurf weapons for your annual Thanksgiving Nurf gun battle, then this link will get you what you need.
15. Tell The Story Of Thanksgiving
Many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each year, yet few recognize the holiday’s origins.
If you really want to get into the spirit of the holiday, it’s a good idea to read up on it so you can share it with the family at dinner.
You might also buy a book about Thanksgiving to share its significance with others.
These Thanksgiving reading selections are appropriate for young readers.
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?