Skip to main content

7 Thanksgiving Traditions You Should Start This Year

Thanksgiving turkey on table

Let's face it: Thanksgiving is a big deal! In fact, over 90% of Americans plan to celebrate Thanksgiving every year.

For many households, Thanksgiving is a magical day full of good seasonal food and lively conversation. While everyone has their own unique way of celebrating, establishing a new Thanksgiving tradition can give the day special meaning to you and your guests. Your tradition doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming—something that’s easy to plan and inclusive of all is perfect.

Need some turkey-day inspiration? Here are seven unusual Thanksgiving traditions that are sure to make your holiday extra memorable this year and every year after.

1.    Give back.

Thanksgiving is a day of giving thanks. It's in the name, after all! Use this time to reflect on all the goodness in your life, express your gratitude, and pay it forward. Consider spending a few hours volunteering with a local organization. Before the holiday approaches, contact a local soup kitchen, shelter, food bank, or non-profit of your choice and ask if they could use some help on Thanksgiving.

Don't want to leave the house on the big day? You can still make an impact! Check out 9 ways to volunteer from home

2.    Personalize your table.

mother and daughter making fall craft with leaves

Ahead of the delicious meal with traditional Thanksgiving food, gather the family for a crafting session. Creating decorative art is a great way to bond, and it'll keep the little ones busy and add an impressive personal touch to your tablescape. Unique table personalization ideas include:

  • Assembling a floral centerpiece with in-season fall flowers, like roses, pansies, dahlias, and chrysanthemums. 
  • Coloring a butcher paper "tablecloth" with hand turkeys and festive accents. 
  • Making napkin rings with decorative ribbon, cloth, or string. 
  • Practicing your calligraphy and making place cards for each guest. 

3.    Race in a turkey trot.

We know Thanksgiving is a time to relax, but it’s an opportunity to refresh, too! Communities across the country often hold early-morning "turkey trot" races on or around Thanksgiving. These entertaining events are the perfect chance to dress up in silly costumes and enjoy fresh air and exercise before you feast. While some events are competitive races, like 5Ks, 10Ks, or half-marathons, many are family-friendly and geared toward having fun rather than winning. Find a turkey trot near you.

Get ready for the race with seven tips to help you begin running (even if you don't think you're a runner!) 

4.    Say "thank you."

On this day of thanks, say "thank you" to someone who made a difference in your life. Pass out blank postcards and pens at the table, and ask everyone to handwrite a note (or, for the little ones, draw a picture) that expresses thankfulness. Then, address the notes. Collect the cards after dinner and send them out the next day. You're sure to bring a smile to someone's face amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. 

5.    Have a table toast.

friends at festive dinner table clinking wine glasses

Instead of taking turns sharing what you’re thankful for, invite each guest to raise their glass and make a toast before diving into dinner. Toast to good health, toast to happiness, toast to your friends, or toast to the weather. Whatever you toast to, you can take it to the next level by creating a signature cocktail for everyone to sip on. Tap into your inner mixologist and incorporate fall flavors like pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, apple, and nutmeg into classic cocktails, or try your hand at one of these festive drinks.

6.    Celebrate everyone’s birthday.

If Thanksgiving is the only time you’re able to get all your friends and family under one roof, this tradition is for you. Use this rare occasion as an excuse to celebrate your loved ones’ birthdays in person. Get cake and balloons and sing “Happy Birthday” to commemorate everyone’s special day.

7.     Host a Friendsgiving, too. 

Why limit all the Thanksgiving excitement to one day? Popularized over the past decade, Friendsgiving is a spin on the traditional Thanksgiving celebration. At this event, you savor all the traditional Thanksgiving foods and have fun with your friends instead of family. Check out these 9 tips for hosting the perfect Friendsgiving to get started. 

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

From running in a turkey trot to celebrating everyone's birthday, these new Thanksgiving traditions will be a hit. As you prepare to enjoy family feasts at home, there's a heightened focus on food preparation safety. Check out these important holiday food safety tips to get the most out of your meal.