Thanksgiving Family Traditions to Start this Year – How to Make the Holidays Special
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Fall is here! (Or at least that’s what the calendar is saying.)
I love the season of fall for so many reasons. It seems to me that fall is the season of comfort, thankfulness, and enjoying the blessings that the harvest brings. I love the warmth of this season as we cuddle up in handmade blankets and cozy socks by warm fires. I love exploring the beauty that nature offers in the brilliant changing colors of the leaves as we go hiking in the parks nearby.
As a parent and a mom, I want to create family memories that warm my children’s hearts and make them feel a part of family tradition when they look back on their childhoods. I want them to feel that closeness of family all year, but especially at the holidays. Traditions are some of the things that make our family special and uniquely us.
It is because of my desire to create this closeness in our family that I strive to create fantastic family traditions surrounding the holidays that can be carried out year after year.
As my children are still young, I’ve been on the hunt for new family traditions to start with them, while choosing which traditions from my own childhood to carry on. I love traditions that are easy to keep going, but full of fun and help us make memories together as a family.
Read on to find out how to make this Thanksgiving extra special and memorable for your family!
Thanksgiving Traditions to Start this Year – How to Make the Holidays Special for Your Family
Create a Thankful Banner
There are so many variations of ways to keep track of what we’re thankful for throughout the month of November and the fall season. From thankful trees to thankful turkeys. There are also thankful pumpkins and thankful jars. SO MANY ideas to choose from.
I went the SUPER simple route of creating a “Thankful Banner” using brown craft paper and a black sharpie. (Side note: I use this brown craft paper ALL. THE. TIME. I put a big strip on the wall at my toddler’s height and let them use crayons and stickers on it to create art. We use this paper to make homemade wrapping paper. I also use it to create birthday signs and welcome home signs! Seriously a must-have in my home!)
We add to our banner throughout the month, reflecting on all the blessings in our lives and really stretch ourselves to think of the smallest things to be grateful for and to find joy in.
I think every year I really reflect on being thankful for running water, my dishwasher, washer, and drier. I honestly don’t take these things for granted! What miracles they are to have in our lives!
We ask people who visit our home what they are thankful for as well. It is fun to hear their different responses. On Thanksgiving, instead of going around the table to say what we are thankful for, we read our well-thought-through list and simply ask if anyone wants to add anything.
I have found this to be an extremely easy and effective tradition to continue. It’s effective because it allows us to think about what we are thankful for throughout the entire month and encourages some great conversations!
Send out “I’m Thankful for You” Notes
Another great tradition to start this Thanksgiving with your kids is sending out notes to friends and family just to let them know you’re thankful for them.
Draw a simple leaf shape using a sharpie pen and let your child paint with water colors in red, orange and yellow for a beautiful fall motif. Writing out “thankful for you” notes will help to put you in the mindset of this season of thankfulness and gratitude. It will also bring a smile to the people around you. A win-win for everyone!
Create a Table Runner Guest Book
Purchase a table runner like this one and track who you spend family thanksgiving dinners with over the years by having everyone sign the runner in either colorful sharpie markers or fabric paint pens. It’s fun to remember who you were with each year on thanksgiving and to see your family grow!
The year we started this family tradition, we traced our hands on the table runner and made each handprint into a turkey. In the following years we’ve simply signed our names. I love seeing how my daughter’s handwriting has changed over the years! It’s so fun to see my children growing!
5K Turkey Trot
As a kid I got a bit frustrated with the amount of sitting that took place on Thanksgiving day. I have more of an active spirit myself and sitting for hours just doesn’t suit my personality, nor does it work for my super active children.
Enter, the turkey trot!
You can always sign up for a formal turkey troy race or, if you prefer, create your own!
I prefer creating our own turkey trot by choosing a short hiking trail to complete as a family. If you’re feeling ambitious you can mark your trail with cute turkeys to find along the way! Looking for and collecting turkeys is sure to motivate your kids to keep going along the path!
This a great tradition to start with an active, growing family to keep everyone moving and avoid sitting all day waiting for your big meal on Thanksgiving!
Turkey Headband Craft to Wear
Try this paper craft turkey headband from Kids Craft Room! It’s so cute and is sure to get your little ones giggling, not to mention the silly pictures you’re bound to get with them in their turkey headbands. Love it!
Kids in the Kitchen
More than anything, I want to pass on my family food culture to my little ones. In my opinion, food is an important part of our family history. I don’t want to see our family traditions lost to time. Cooking is part of who we are, and I want to teach my children about the family they are a part of.
Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around food, so how much more important is it then to take the time to create memories in the kitchen teaching our little ones to cook?!
If having your little ones help out in the kitchen seems impossible, check out my post on getting Kids in the Kitchen. You’ll find specific jobs that your little one can help with as well as recipe recommendations to get you started.
Cooking with my children has to be one of my favorite traditions we’ve started. My daughter has been helping make the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving since she was 2!
I’ll always look back on those times happy and full of nostalgia.
Read Thanksgiving Books
I love the board book I’m Thankful Each Day Its wonderful rhymes and reminders of all the things we have to be thankful for make it a book I like to keep out year round. I always make a point to read it around Thanksgiving however. I also enjoy the book Olaf Gives Thanks. I own and love both of these books and highly recommend them!
A favorite of many is How to Catch a Turkey by Adam Wallace and Thankful by Eileen Spinelli. How to Catch a Turkey will have your little one laughing as you follow along the story of a turkey evading capture, while the photographs in Thankful will enchant you as you read what all the different people in the story are thankful for. If you haven’t checked out these books yet, make this the year to read some special Thanksgiving books with your kids and give them a try!
For more ideas of books to add to your must read list this Thanksgiving, check out this post from “123 Homeschool 4 Me”:
Start Putting Up Christmas Decorations
Now, some people feel like Christmas encroaches on Thanksgiving too much and we shouldn’t utter a word about it until all the pie has been eaten, the dishes have been cleaned and all the pumpkins have been put away.
Me? I like to at least put up our outdoor Christmas lights on Thanksgiving. It gives us another fun holiday tradition to look forward to and the longer I can have my Christmas lights up the better. I love getting the whole family in on the project and seeing my kids having so much fun decorating for the next big holiday!
Go Bowling and Try to get a Turkey !
If you’re new to bowling, a “turkey” is when you get 3 strikes in a row! If you only go bowling once a year on Thanksgiving, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll actually get a turkey, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to try! It’s so much fun trying new things with our kids, and going bowling is a perfect way to have easy fun and stay active on Thanksgiving.
Watch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving“
Ending the day with a movie night snuggled up on the couch is always the perfect ending to a special day, if you ask me. Everyone happy and content, watching a fall-themed movie in their pajamas sounds truly lovely. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is family friendly and an easy watch. Great choice all around on the way to top off your Thanksgiving family festivities.
Every year holidays come and go. They can be overdone and stressful for parents if we aren’t careful. Build holiday traditions this year that help bring your family closer together without the stress. Choose one of these easy, yet meaningful, holiday traditions to bring extra fun and memory magic to your family this Thanksgiving.
We’ll never regret sharing life’s little moments with our children. So, have fun discovering new traditions and creating memories that are uniquely you. And don’t forget to have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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