Whether this is your first Thanksgiving as a family or you are just looking for some new ways to spice up your Turkey Day celebrations, starting a new tradition can be fun and exciting! Everyone eats Turkey and watches football on Thanksgiving. If you are looking for some unique traditions, ones that your family will love and keep coming back to every year, not just because they are traditions, but because they are actually fun, here are some perfectly unique Thanksgiving traditions. Try a few this year and maybe even avoid the boredom that usually sets in waiting for the turkey to cook.
1. Give out “thank you” awards.
Instead of just pondering on what you’re thankful for, have everyone in the family write down things they love about each other and why they are thankful to be a family (or, if you are celebrating with friends, a friend group). You can even make turkey-themed stationary or pumpkin place card holders for this activity. During dinner, have each person hand out their “thank you” awards to all of the other members of the group and talk about why they are thankful this year.
2. Make a Thankfulness Tank.
This is a project you can conduct all year, every year, which comes to a climax each year on Thanksgiving Day. Set out a jar with some slips of paper or cards and a pen. Throughout the year (or throughout Thanksgiving Day), have people write down what they are thankful for and put it into the jar. They can sign them, or not. A great focus of the Thankfulness Tank would be to write down a personal note to each family member, thanking them for something kind they did during the year. If you leave out the tank for the entire year, try to remember to add to it regularly.
3. A Thanksgiving advent calendar.
Advent calendars are traditionally used for Christmas, but they are just as fun for Thanksgiving. Draw a tree or print one off of the computer, and make enough leaves out of yellow, brown, and red paper to represent the days left until Thanksgiving. On the top, number each leaf, and on the bottom, write a category of something you might be thankful for. For example, you could write “house,” on the bottom of a leaf. On that day, pull the leaf off of the tree and discuss why you are thankful for a warm, safe home.
4. A fall tree of thanks.
This is a great activity for the kids! Make a construction paper tree and stick it to the wall. Then, cut leaves out of red, brown, yellow, and orange paper. Each day leading up to Thanksgiving, have everyone in the family write something that they are thankful for on a leaf and stick it to a tree. Not only does it help to remind you to be grateful, it doubles as a decoration.
5. Thankfulness journal.
This will become a beloved keepsake over the years. Get a nice journal, one that will keep together over years of use. Each year, let each family member or friend who attends Thanksgiving dinner write a note or two about what they are thankful for. While you can read the notes during the meal, it will also be something great to look at throughout the year. This is a great project if you have shy family members or friends who are sheepish about expressing their thanks or receiving it around the table. Plus, it’s a great way to track priorities and to watch your children and friends grow over the years.
6. Give back.
Thanksgiving Day shouldn’t just be about sitting down and eating a huge meal. It can also be about providing service to people who are not as fortunate. Giving service is a great way to show appreciation for what you have. Donating money or food to a food bank is a great place to start, as is volunteering to help with their meals, either cooking or serving. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is a great way to give back and give thanks for what you have.
7. Roll up some gratitude.
Did you know that you can write notes on parchment paper and roll them into crescent roll dough, baking a note of thanks right into the roll? Once everyone breaks into a roll and pulls out their “thankfulness fortune,” have everyone read what the parchment paper says. For a fun game, after each person reads, have them guess who wrote the note.
8. Decorations of gratitude.
If a construction paper tree, taped to the wall, is not your style, instead, gather branches or buy them from a craft store. Put them in a festive vase and have people hang little paper leaves, tagged with what they’re thankful for, on the branches. Not only will it get everyone in the gratitude mood, it will also look great at the center of the table. As you enjoy the meal, go around the table, pull off a leaf, and read what someone is grateful for.
9. Try a foreign Thanksgiving.
The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates a Thanksgiving-type holiday. Even if your family has been in the States since the First Thanksgiving, look into how other countries give thanks. If you have a strong foreign heritage, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to try something non-traditional, especially if your family is getting tired of turkey and stuffing. If your family hails from Scotland or India or Asia, don’t be afraid to tip your hat to that cultural heritage. After all, isn’t that really what Thanksgiving is about? Celebrating your family and your heritage?