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?


Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones, share a delicious meal, and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. It’s a momentous occasion for many, but the atmosphere around the Thanksgiving table can sometimes be laden with anxiety, awkward silences, or strained conversations. 

This year, consider adding a simple yet effective tool to your Thanksgiving tradition – conversation starters.

These small prompts can have a profound impact on your family relationships, helping to strengthen connections, create memorable moments, and promote an atmosphere of gratitude and understanding.

8 reasons to use conversation starters around your Thanksgiving table

  1. Breaks the Ice: Conversation starters are a friendly catalyst for engaging discussions. They help break the ice and ease tension, especially when family members may not see each other regularly. Sharing stories and experiences can create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
  2. Encourages Active Listening: Good conversation starters encourage active listening. When everyone takes turns sharing their thoughts and experiences, it promotes attentiveness and respect for each other’s perspectives.
  3. Fosters Gratitude: Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and conversation starters can guide the conversation toward what family members are thankful for. This practice helps people reflect on their blessings and express appreciation.
  4. Builds Empathy: By asking questions that invite sharing, you enable family members to better understand each other’s experiences, perspectives, and feelings. This can lead to a deeper sense of empathy, which is essential for building stronger relationships.
  5. Creates Memories: Some of the most cherished family memories come from the candid, heartfelt conversations around the Thanksgiving table. Conversation starters can help ensure that these moments occur and are remembered.
  6. Connects Generations: Conversation starters can bridge generational gaps, allowing everyone to share and learn from each other’s experiences. Young and old family members alike benefit from these intergenerational connections.
  7. Reduces Tension: Sometimes, family gatherings come with their share of tension and disagreements. Thoughtful conversation starters can guide the discussion away from contentious topics and help maintain a harmonious atmosphere.
  8. Promotes Inclusivity: Conversation starters ensure that everyone has a chance to participate, including quieter family members who might be overlooked in more boisterous conversations.

By actively participating in these thoughtful conversations, you can savor the moments that truly matter, deepen your connections with loved ones, and make this Thanksgiving a memorable and fulfilling one.

Get your free set of Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Cards printable HERE.