Looking for some ideas to make your Thanksgiving holiday more exciting and fun this year? Does your holiday just consist of eating turkey and sitting around? Try spicing up your turkey day with these fun Thanksgiving traditions and ideas.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I have lots of special memories of Thanksgiving growing up. This is because Thanksgiving day is full of traditions for me. For most of these traditions, this is the only day of the year that I do them. I look forward to this special day and now I passed these fun Thanksgiving traditions on to my husband and children so we all look forward to Thanksgiving Day.
23 Fun Thanksgiving Traditions
1. Before Thanksgiving Day (usually the day after Halloween) I take down my Halloween decorations and replace them with Thanksgiving decorations. This way I can think about and enjoy Thanksgiving the whole month of November. Having these decorations out and around helps remind me about the true meaning of Thanksgiving, to be thankful, and to show gratitude for all my many blessings.
Thanksgiving Morning Traditions
2. Traditionally on Thanksgiving their is a massive meal consisting of consuming tons of food, eating all day, etc. So start out your day with some kind of exercise. This could be just a simple, normal workout or check into your area for a local fun run or exercise event. Where I grew up in the town over there was a fun run in the morning called The Turkey Trot. It is a 5K that individuals or families can walk or run together.
3. Set up a fun obstacle course in your basement or outside that your family can partake in. Try to include some Thanksgiving items.
4. Watch the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving parade together. Have everyone pick out their favorite float.
Fun Thanksgiving Food Traditions
5. Prepare the Thanksgiving meal together. Instead of just you cooking away in the kitchen for several hours, get everyone involved and doing a job to help prepare the delicious food.
6. In addition to the traditional thanksgiving food, add in your own twists. Make your Thanksgiving meal your own by adding in some family favorites. It is a fun Thanksgiving tradition to have something that you only make and eat on this day. I have been eating the exact same meal on Thanksgiving for the past 35 years and I love it. One of my favorite meals of the year! First, we eat riced potatoes instead of mashed. This is the only time of the year that I eat this. Next, I eat homemade stuffing and I love it. Lastly, we have homemade baked apples which is a special treat.
7. Besides eating special foods on thanksgiving try using special dishes or thanksgiving themed plates and utensils. One special dish I always looked forward to seeing on Thanksgiving was “The Platter”. The platter was this huge heavy white dish that my grandma put a variety of vegetables on. In the center was a head of steamed cauliflower with cheese. Then around it was peas, corn, and carrots. It wasn’t just your average vegetables – they were specially prepared by Grandma (probably adding lots of butter and spices) but they were oh so good. Everyone loved the platter and usually the person you were sitting next to had to hold it for you so you could take your helpings and then pass it around the table. Everyone looked forward to seeing and passing around “The Platter”.
8. What would Thanksgiving be without some delicious desserts. Our family always has the traditional pies. We have pumpkin, apple and pecan. Some do sweet potato pie or rhubarb. Then add some whipped cream or ice cream with it. This is another item that I only eat once a year – homemade pie.
9. When we think about Thanksgiving the first thing that probably comes to mind is all the delicious food we eat. Although, something not to be forgotten about is the Thanksgiving drinks. For adults you can serve special kinds of wine or champagne. For non alcoholic choices an apple cider can be a special treat or chocolate milk instead of plain white.
I am usually in charge of bringing a bottle of wine to Thanksgiving and I dress my wine with my turkey topper. It is a festive decoration to have on the table before we eat and open the wine. I actually usually set it out a week before Thanksgiving because I think he is cute:)
10. Not that you aren’t already full from a delicious meal and dessert, but have a special thanksgiving snack later in the afternoon after your meal and dessert have settled. We always had homemade chex mix, caramel corn, and seasoned pretzels along with a refreshing red or green punch. The kids always have fun going around and offering snacks to everyone and passing out the punch in the special punch glasses.
How to Honor the True Meaning of Thanksgiving
11. It is easy to get caught up in all the hype around Thanksgiving. The parade, turkey, pies, football and shopping can take over the day. However, it is so important to remember the true meaning behind Thanksgiving and show gratitude with your family and friends.
Fun Ways to Show Thanksgiving Gratitude
12. Go around the table and have each person say what they are thankful for. (This can include remembering lost loved ones) Hold hands with the person next to you as this gives a more personal touch.
13. Do a gratitude toast with champagne before you eat.
14. Look at past family photos and photo albums together.
15. Make a slideshow of the past year with all that are around the dinner table. Reminisce about the good and fun times you had together and why you are thankful for each other.
16. Here are some other ways to show gratitude that you might not be able to do on Thanksgiving day, but are fun to do as a family:
- Serve a meal to the homeless
- Volunteer at your local food pantry
- Donate items to a food drive
- Ring the bell at a store for the salvation army
- Select a family one of you know that could use a boast this holiday season and make them a Thanksgiving meal basket
Fun Thanksgiving Activities
17. Play a game. My families Thanksgiving game tradition is bingo. After we are done eating we play bingo for prizes. The prizes are nothing extravagant, but dollar store items or like a dollar bill wrapped around a piece of candy. The kids especially love to play bingo and win prizes. It can get pretty competitive.
18. Christmas Light Looking. Lots of people and businesses have their Christmas lights up by Thanksgiving and it is fun to go around as a family and look at them in anticipation of the holiday season. Depending where you live, you can go for a car drive to check out lights or for a walk. There are some holiday light festivals where the lights are paired up to music and it is fun to listen and watch the lights move to the song. You can google for these houses, businesses, parks or check your local newspaper.
19. Along with Thanksgiving comes NFL football games. Traditionally the Lions and the Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving. Make these games extra fun by all picking numbers or which team you think will win. Each person can through in a dollar or the losers have to do something fun for the winners.
Active Activity Ideas
20. Besides watching the football games and if the weather cooperates, grab the family and play a round of touch football outside. This is a lot of fun and will burn off some of those turkey and pie calories as well.
21. Go for a family walk. Get some movement in after eating all that food. Talk about things you are thankful for on your stroll.
22. Go bowling. One of my favorite fun Thanksgiving traditions and one that I especially looked forward to as a kid was going bowling on Thanksgiving. After snacks and bingo in the later afternoon we would all load up in a couple vehicles and drive to the local bowling alley. (It was neat as we usually saw the same families each year as they had the same tradition:) We would bowl a couple games, switch up teams and lanes each game. The kids would be on the bumper bowling lane. We would make up fun names to put on the scoreboard. Also, we would play poker while we bowled. A strike earned you 2 cards and a spare earned you 1 card. Then at the end of the game the person with the best hand wins the pot. (It was a dollar to play).
Black Friday Shopping
23. After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday. As a person who lives and thrives on deals it is hard to completely ignore. Especially with stores opening on Thanksgiving, with what seems to be earlier and earlier every year, as a family we do some Black Friday shopping planning together. As much as I feel it is unfortunate that shopping and retail have entered and taken over some of the special day of Thanksgiving, it is hard to pass up some of the deals.
My mom and I for many years shopped together on Black Friday. Which as the years went on started earlier and earlier on thanksgiving. So Thanksgiving afternoon or evening her and I would look at all the flyers noting different items we wanted to check out or that were on Christmas lists for people we had to shop for. We would make a list for each store what we wanted to check out. Then we would compare lists to see what stores we all had to visit. Next, we would map out our plan of attack. I would write down when the store opened, when the specials were, and prioritize the order of items we wanted to get.
We always had a great time together waiting in lines, finding great deals, and experiencing the thrill of Black Friday. Unfortunately with currently having small children our Black Friday all night shopping sprees have taken a break, but I look forward to starting them up again in the future.
For more on how to plan for Black Friday and get the most out of Black Friday click here.
Final Thoughts on Fun Thanksgiving Traditions and Ideas
Thanksgiving is a special holiday and a time to reflect over the many blessings you have received the past year. So often we think about the negative, what we do not have, or what we are working to try and get. Instead be thankful for who and what you have around you. Try these fun Thanksgiving traditions and ideas to help you celebrate this special holiday with your family and friends.