11 Thanksgiving Traditions to Make Your Holiday More Meaningful

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to create lasting family traditions that foster a sense of togetherness, gratitude, and love. Make Thanksgiving extra special and more fun with these 11 family-friendly ideas.

11 Thanksgiving Traditions to Make Your Holiday More Meaningful

1. Gratitude Jar: Place a jar on the table and encourage family members to write down things they’re thankful for throughout the month of November. Read them aloud on Thanksgiving or before dinner one evening.

2. Conversation Circle: Encourage family members to share their favorite Thanksgiving memories or stories around the dinner table using these conversation starters I created. Get your free printable conversation cards HERE.

Read my article: STRENGTHENING FAMILY BONDS: The Power of Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

3. Potluck Feast Recipe Swap: If family members are bringing dishes to your Thanksgiving meal, ask them to handwrite the recipe on a recipe card to compile a family cookbook to hand down to your children.

4. Thankful Tree or Pumpkin: Create a “thankful tree” using branches or a small tree, and provide leaves or ornaments for family members to write down what they’re thankful for and hang them on the tree. Another great idea is to have people write with a sharpie on a pumpkin what they are thankful for such as this article suggests.

5. Thanksgiving Tablecloth: Use a plain white tablecloth, and each year, have family members write what they’re thankful for. Over time, it becomes a cherished keepsake.

My friend, Lisa, in Minnesota, sent me this photo of her treasured Thanksgiving tablecloth.

6. Themed Attire: Encourage everyone to wear Thanksgiving-themed attire, whether it’s matching t-shirts, aprons, or funny hats. Or even ask people to dress in a certain color scheme. You could even do a backward celebration where you start with dessert and end with appetizers while wearing your clothes backward.

7. Notes of Gratitude: Have family members write letters of gratitude to someone they are thankful for, sharing what they appreciate about that person. Consider putting stamps on envelopes so that each person can easily drop their notes in the mail.

8. Charity Giving: Have conversations as a family about how you are currently supporting local, national, and global charitable organizations. Schedule time volunteering at a non-profit that aligns with your family values and goals or consider collecting non-perishable food items, clothing, or toys to donate to a local charity organization.


9. Thanksgiving Paper Chain: You may think paper chains are in your past, but you may want to consider placing strips of paper on the table with pens and markers and ask everyone to write what they are thankful for. After eating, while everyone is sitting around visiting, pass around a stapler or tape and have each person state what they wrote, and begin connecting the strips together to make a chain. Hang the thankful chain up through the holiday season or use it on your tree as a garland to remind you of your many blessings.

10. Candle Lighting Ceremony: Light a candle for each family member at the beginning of the meal. As each person speaks about what they’re grateful for, they can light their candle.

11. Gratitude Walk: After the meal, take a leisurely family walk through a nearby park, nature trail, or your own neighborhood, discussing what you’re thankful for about where you live.

Remember that the most important thing about family traditions is that they bring your loved ones together and create meaningful, lasting memories. Tailor these ideas to fit your family’s interests and values to make your Thanksgiving celebrations special and unique.

Do you have something special that you do as a family on Thanksgiving?


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