Family traditions for Thanksgiving that you can start this year with your kids.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Besides Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I have never had any real Thanksgiving traditions. Year after year, I get swept up in the Christmas frenzy and forget to really celebrate Thanksgiving. It comes and goes in a blur of cranberry sauce and pecan pie.
Although the story of the first Thanksgiving many of us learned in elementary school may not be entirely accurate, it’s still a great time to appreciate the things we’re thankful for.
This year, I wanted to think of something to do with my daughter in an effort to not to let the Thanksgiving holiday pass by thoughtlessly. I’ve realized there are many different ways to appreciate the holiday better.
Here are nine awesome Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family!
1. Start A Thanksgiving Countdown
We countdown to Christmas every year. I have a cute wall hanging that counts down the days to Christmas, starting 30 days before the winter holiday. So when I took out my Christmas decorations this year, right after Halloween, it was way too early to even hang it up.
Why not start a Thanksgiving countdown instead?
I love the idea of involving my two-year-old in creating a countdown craft. This year we tried a paper chain Thanksgiving countdown inspired by this post from Mom It Forward.
Every morning, my daughter gets to tear off another chain on our Thanksgiving turkey countdown which she gets excited about. I get excited about the fact that a four-day weekend for me is coming up soon!
Plus, we still get to have our Christmas countdown with plenty of days to count once Thanksgiving is over.
2. Make A Thanksgiving Craft
Do a fall or Thanksgiving themed craft (or several crafts!) each year with your kids. This helps everyone get into the holiday spirit and is also a great bonding activity.
For an easy Thanksgiving craft to do with a toddler, try this paper plate and tissue paper turkey.
3. Thanksgiving Breakfast Tradition
For most people, Thanksgiving is centered around a fabulous late afternoon dinner. But even on Thanksgiving, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
If you’re sharing turkey and stuffing with extended family and friends, make a special breakfast for just you and you kids in the morning.
My favorite holiday breakfast is french toast with scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, and fruit. For an especially delicious meal, trying making challah bread french toast like this recipe from Tori Avey.
4. Volunteer or Donate
I love the idea of helping our children learn to be grateful for what they have by volunteering with them. My daughter is a little young to understand this concept right now but I hope we can add this into our Thanksgiving traditions in the future.
If you’re not sure where to start, try Googling places that serve free Thanksgiving dinner in your area — they will usually be looking for volunteers to help out on Thanksgiving Day.
If you aren’t able to donate your time, many places are looking for food or monetary donations this time of year. Find a cause you feel passionate about or look up your local food bank.
5. Thankful Tree
Creating a Thankful Tree is such a great way to encourage everyone in the family to think about what they’re thankful for. I would love to do something like this next year when my daughter is a little older and able to understand the concept of being thankful better.
6. Gratitude Jar
As an alternative to a gratitude tree, start a gratitude or thankful jar. This is something you could do just for the month of November OR keep it going all year long.
Follow these instructions for a fun DIY activity you can do with your toddler or young kids and find out how to make your own easy thankful jar.
Read this article for more valuable tips on how to help young children learn thankfulness.
7. After Dinner Walk
Part of my job as a nurse is to educate patients with chronic diseases on self-management skills. During this time of year, I spend a lot of time working with my patients to think of ways they can eat healthy and stay active despite all the holiday temptations.
If the weather is nice, taking a walk after Thanksgiving dinner is a great way to add in a little activity. Walking also helps the kids burn off some energy and allows everyone to appreciate nature and the beauty of fall.
8. Take A Yearly Family Photo
Take a family photo every year on Thanksgiving! This is a great way to see how your family has changed and the kids are growing over the years.
I’ve realized I have very few photos of my husband, daughter, and I all together because we never ask anyone to take our picture.
Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity for a family photo for the following reasons:
- Everyone is usually dressed up (or at least decent looking)!
- There are other people around to snap a picture whether you’re hosting or traveling to someone else’s home for dinner.
9. Start A Thanksgiving Book Collection to Read With Your Kids
To help your children understand the meaning behind Thanksgiving, pick a book to read with them each year.
Here are some great ideas for young children.
Bright Baby: Happy Thanksgiving by Roger Priddy. Simple words and photographs make this a fun and easy book for the youngest ‘readers’.
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes. This is a cute story about things to be thankful for with nice illustrations.
Final Thoughts on Thanksgiving Traditions
Having Thanksgiving traditions can help make the holiday memorable for your family. It’s a great time to stop and think about all the things we’re truly thankful for.
Leave a comment below with some of your favorite family Thanksgiving traditions! What new ones do you plan to start this year?
Related holiday posts:
- Christmas Traditions to Start This Year
- Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Craft
- Thankful Jar Activity for Toddlers and Preschoolers
- How To Teach Toddlers & Preschoolers To Be Thankful