25 Best Thanksgiving Traditions To Start With Your Family This Year

Are you looking to start some new Thanksgiving traditions this year? If so, you’ll want to check out these fun Thanksgiving ideas. Traditions are such…

thanksgiving traditions

Are you looking to start some new Thanksgiving traditions this year? If so, you’ll want to check out these fun Thanksgiving ideas.

Traditions are such a great way to celebrate holidays. If you are anything like me, you love starting new traditions, as well as, continuing old ones to make lasting memories with your family. This is why I have compiled and am sharing with you the best Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family.

This list of Thanksgiving traditions range from a scavenger hunt and thankful pumpkin to a sign-in sheet and more! After reading this post, you are sure to find a tradition perfect for your family. 

This post is all about the best Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family.

Thanksgiving Traditions

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1. Thanksgiving Countdown

A Thanksgiving countdown is a fun Thanksgiving tradition for the younger kids. It is a great way to get your kids excited for the upcoming holiday and give them a visual of how far away it is.

If your kids are like mine, they are constantly ask how many days until the upcoming holiday. One fun way to give them a visual is to create a construction paper chain link for each day until Thanksgiving. Each day, let your kids remove one link from the chain.

Another way is to create a simple countdown chart where they can cross off a box each day leading up to Thanksgiving. You can also download and print my free Thanksgiving countdown. Start this countdown 19 days prior. 

Thanksgiving traditions food


2. Thankfulness Turkey

family thanksgiving traditions

A thankfulness turkey is such a cute Thanksgiving decoration and activity you and your family can do together.

To make the turkey, you’ll need to cut out a large and smaller circle on brown construction paper to use as the turkey’s body and head. Then, cut out feet and a beak using orange construction paper. Lastly, cut out two eyes. 

You can also find a printable online if you’re not confident in your drawing skills like myself. Once you have your turkey parts, I recommend laminating them. 

Once laminated and assembled, use various colors of construction paper to cut out feathers. Again, you can use a printable template if you prefer. Then, give each person in your family a few feathers.

Have each person write things they are thankful for on the feathers. Make sure to have everyone write their name and the year on the back of the feathers. Once everyone has written on their feathers, laminate them and tape them up to the turkey and you’ll have a beautiful thankfulness turkey.

Next year, you can hang the turkey back up and put up the old feathers, as well as making new ones. It will be fun to watch your turkey get more and more filled out as the years go by.

3. Read Thanksgiving Books

fun thanksgiving traditions

If you have young kids like myself then reading Thanksgiving books is one of the perfect Thanksgiving traditions to start with them. After Halloween, I like to bring out all of our Thanksgiving themed books to start getting them excited for the new holiday.

If you are looking for some great Thanksgiving reads, here is a list of some of our family’s favorites.

Llama Llama Gives Thanks

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How to Catch a Turkey

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4. Donate

If you are able I highly recommend donating money or food to your local food bank or hosting your own food drive. With the cost of food rising, food banks are seeing an even bigger demand for food assistance.

Donating to your local community is not only helping others but you are teaching your children an important lesson. Your kids will learn the importance of giving back to your community, as well as seeing how much you can make a difference in the lives of others.

5. Make a Pumpkin Recipe

Make it a tradition each year to try a new recipe with pumpkin in it. Here are some delicious pumpkin ideas besides pumpkin pie. 

  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Pumpkin Waffles
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte
  • Pumpkin Muffins

6. Volunteer

Lend a hand and volunteer somewhere with your kids. It is such an important lesson to teach and a great tradition to pass down. 

7. Eat Turkey

A Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete without a turkey. 

If you’re the one cooking, don’t forget to pull it out of the freezer in time. It’s recommended one day of thawing for every 4 pounds so if you have a 20 pound turkey it will need 5 days of thawing in the refrigerator. 

8. Wish Bone

wishbone tradition

With the wish bone tradition, two people pull apart the wishbone while making a wish. The person who ends up with the bigger half of the wishbone is said to have their wish come true.

To start this tradition make sure to save and set aside the wishbone after carving the turkey. In order for it to easily break it needs plenty of time to dry. Set it aside to dry out until your family is gathered together again at Christmas.

To determine who gets to pull the wishbone place everybody’s name into a hat and draw out two slips. These are the lucky two who get to break the wishbone.

9. Thankful Pumpkin

A thankful pumpkin is a great way for your family to express their gratitude. Using a black sharpie marker write on the pumpkin everything you’re thankful for.

You can start on November 1st and have everyone add new things to it each day. By Thanksgiving you will have a decorative pumpkin with all of the things your family is thankful for that year. 

10. Thankful Tablecloth

thanksgiving family traditions

I LOVE this Thanksgiving tradition. All you need is a white linen tablecloth and some sharpie markers like these adorable pastel ones. Sharpie also makes these really cool fabric markers that are specifically made for doing things like this.

Each year, put the tablecloth on the table and set out the markers. Let everyone write something they are thankful for that year. Don’t forget to have everyone write their name and the year. It will be so cool to watch the tablecloth fill up over the years.

Another tablecloth idea would be to use a paper roll to cover the table and then let everyone color, decorate and write things they are thankful for on it. This one you wouldn’t save and reuse, rather each year would be a blank canvas for new decorations and words of thanks. 

White Linen Tablecloth

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Sharpie Fabric Markers

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11. Run a Turkey Trot

Sign the family up for your local Turkey Trot race and run Thanksgiving morning. Most Turkey Trots are between a 5K (3.1 miles) and 5 mile race. If you aren’t up for running then walk it as a family. It will be a fun way to kick off the holiday.

12. Watch the Macy’s Day Parade

Put the Macy’s Day Parade on the television and watch the parade together as a family. Your kids are sure to love seeing the huge character balloons. 

13. Sign in Sheet

thanksgiving traditions in canada


Set out a sign-in sheet for everyone to sign and write something they are thankful for that year. Then, laminate the sign-in sheet or place it in a page protector like this and keep it in a binder. Do this each year and you will have a great family keepsake to have and look back on. 

Feel free to download and print my Thanksgiving sign-in sheet above. There are 12 lines for names so print off as many sheets as you need for the amount of guests you expect to have. 

Sheet Protectors

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14. Take a Yearly Family Photo

thanksgiving traditions usa


Having the entire family gathered together makes the perfect opportunity to get a picture. If you don’t have a camera and tripod just set a timer on your phone to take the picture so that everyone is included in the photo.  

You can download my free printable family photo sheet above that has a box to place a 4×6 sized picture. Write the names of those pictured in the photo below it.

When you’re finished, place it in a page protector or laminate it. Then, put it in the binder along with the sign-in sheet. This will make for an awesome family keepsake to be passed down for many generations. 

15. Teach the Kids a Thanksgiving Recipe

thanksgiving food

One day, the kids at your Thanksgiving may be the ones cooking and hosting Thanksgiving. Prepare them by teaching them some of the recipes, tips and tricks. You could even start a cookbook with all of your family’s Thanksgiving recipes. 

To start a family cookbook, download and print my Thanksgiving recipe template below. Fill out a recipe page for each of the dishes passed. Have the person who cooks the dish fill out the printable.

Place each recipe into a page protector and put them all in a binder. This is a great way to pass down family recipes for many generations. 

american thanksgiving traditions


16. Play/Sing the Gobble Gobble Song

It’s not Thanksgiving until you’ve played or sang the Gobble Gobble song by Matthew West. I do warn you though, this catchy song may be stuck in your and your kids’ head for weeks after Thanksgiving has passed.

17. Remember Lost Loved Ones

Remembering lost loved ones is one of the best Thanksgiving traditions your family can start, if you haven’t already. Set out pictures of loved ones who are no longer with you and go around the table sharing memories of these people. This helps keep their memory alive for many generations.

18. Video Chat Distant Relatives

Not everyone can make it to a Thanksgiving gathering. In order to include those members of your family, set aside time to FaceTime or video chat these relatives so everyone has a chance to say hi.

19. Play Thanksgiving Games

To keep the mood light and fun at your Thanksgiving gathering try a fun Thanksgiving themed game such as Would You Rather. This game is not only fun for kids but adults too. With this game there are no wrong answers and it gives everyone something to bond over and laugh about.

If you’d like to play this game at your family’s Thanksgiving then feel free to check out my Thanksgiving Would You Rather Post below where you can download 42 FREE Thanksgiving cards.

Thanksgiving traditions in america

42 Hilarious Thanksgiving Would You Rather Questions To Ask Over Thanksgiving Dinner

20. Host a Friendsgiving

Thanksgiving is not just a great time to gather with family but friends too. Pick a day before or after Thanksgiving and host a fun “Friendsgiving”. Have everyone bring a dish to pass and enjoy your time catching up with friends. 

21. Go for a Family Walk After Dinner

After dinner when everyone is full, go for a walk and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and foliage as a family. It won’t be long before the cold winter months arrive.

22. Do a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are one of the Thanksgiving traditions your kids will love and want to do each year. Split up into teams or do it individually. The first team or person to find all the items on your list wins bragging rights until next year. 

{RELATED POST: FREE Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable For Families}

23. Play a Family Game of Flag Football

If your family is at all competitive you’ll want to add a flag football game to your Thanksgiving traditions. 

24. Play Family Board Games

Thanksgiving traditions around the world

Family board games are SO much fun. Pull out all your games and let everyone break up into groups and play. If you’re looking for some fun family board games make sure to check out my post below to find ones your family is sure to love!

31 Top Family Board Games For Your Next Family Game Night

Do You Really Know Your Family?

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It’s in The Bag

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25.Watch the NFL games

Does your team play on Thanksgiving? If so, make sure to put on the game so everyone can watch and cheer the team on together.

This Post Was All About Thanksgiving Traditions

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