Family Thanksgiving
Traditions to Try This Year

There is no other holiday that is as important to family as Thanksgiving – gathering together around a turkey with your loved ones and talking about what you are thankful for. You may have fond memories of the things you did growing up – helping make the pumpkin pie, watching football or joining your family for a huge meal. Now it is time for you to start some family traditions with your own kids.

Family Thanksgiving Traditions to Try This Year

Volunteer together

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to think of those who may not be a fortunate as you are. It can also teach your kids some valuable lessons about gratitude. Consider postponing your own family meal and spending the day serving food to the homeless or delivering meals to people who cannot leave their homes. If you have a friend or neighbor who is older or a bit down on their luck, consider bringing a meal to that person. Just make sure everyone in the family gets involved.

Make a list of things for which
you are thankful

At the end of the day, after the turkey is eaten and the extended relatives have gone home, sit down with your family and a few slices of pie to make a list of everything your family has to be thankful for. This can range from a new toy to a new job. Record your list, and talk about your hopes and goals for the next year. Put the list in a time capsule and revisit it next Thanksgiving before making your next list.

Write "thankful" letters

Do you have relatives who live in other states? Do your kids have friends who moved away during the past year? Think of the people in your life who your family members are thankful for and send them a handwritten note. Sure, you can call, text or email, but how special is it these days to receive something in the mail that you know people took the time out to write? If you have younger children, they can draw pictures for the person instead. If you would like to include a small gift or keepsake, Pottery Barn Kids offers several options.

Make a "random act of kindness" calendar

If your entire family agrees, turn November into “Random Act of Kindness” month. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, each member of the family must do a kind act for someone else. It can be at home, at work, at school or even at the grocery store, and you can do it for a friend, family member or stranger. During dinner, each person can talk about their act and how it made them feel. Before you know it, you may find yourself doing it all year. If your family is not sure where to start, consider some of these ideas:

  • Pay for another customer's lunch or coffee at a restaurant
  • Do a chore for a parent or sibling
  • Be kind to a student who is often bullied
  • Call a grandparent to tell them you love them
  • Offer to rake leaves for a neighbor
  • Volunteer to help a teacher
  • Help a parent prepare dinner or set the table
  • Offer to babysit a younger sibling, or for parents, offer to babysit so a friend or neighbor can have a date night
  • Spend extra time playing or reading a book with your child or a younger sibling

Keep an appreciation bucket year-round

This takes a little pre-planning, but it can be a great way to look back on your year. Keep a bucket or some other container on a counter, table or desk, and as you find yourself experiencing gratitude throughout the year, write down the things that you are grateful for and add them to the bucket. They can be as big as welcoming a new baby or as small as reading a good book. On Thanksgiving, sit down together and read your appreciations. It is a great reminder of the good things that happened throughout the year.

Bake for your neighbors

The kitchen is a wonderful place to spend time together and create memories that will last forever. Get together with your family and come up with a Thanksgiving dessert or two, such as pumpkin bars or turkey-shaped sugar cookies. Spend a day baking until you cannot bake anymore, and, on Thanksgiving Day, pass the finished products out to your neighbors or friends who live nearby. Sweet treats are always a nice surprise, and you can ensure that no one you know goes to bed without a little taste of Thanksgiving that day.