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14 Unique Thanksgiving Traditions For Families

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, and we love to celebrate and commemorate as much as we can. Today I’m sharing 14 of my favorite, unique Thanksgiving family traditions for you to enjoy! These are perfect to start in 2020 and carry over for years to come. Which tradition will become your family’s favorite?

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Today I'm sharing 14 of my favorite, unique Thanksgiving family traditions for you to enjoy and are perfect to start in 2020.

Family Thanksgiving Traditions You’ll Love…

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday in our home. We don’t just skip over it to get to Christmas. No way. We celebrate each and every last day of fall like it’s our job, which is why I wanted to gather some unique, fun Thanksgiving traditions your family will love that you can start this year.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a doozy, so I’ve included many virtual and socially distanced options to fit the theme for this year. But, nonetheless, pandemic or not these traditions will be perfect for your family to enjoy for years to come.

The Gracious Gobbler

I just recently discovered this gorgeous book and plush by a sweet family right here in the U.S. The mission behind The Gracious Gobbler is that “being told you’re appreciated is one of the simplest yet most incredible things you can ever hear”. Here’s how to get started with your cute little turkey and his book…

Gracious Gobbler instructions…

Once you have received the Gracious Gobbler, starting November 1st until Thanksgiving:

  • Welcome the Gracious Gobbler into your home!  Allow your kids to hug and love your turkey, keeping him present as a reminder to be kind and compassionate, and to show gratitude.
  • As our days become busy, it can be difficult to focus on the positive things happening around us.  Make efforts to be intentional daily, focusing on small acts of kindness and encourage children to do the same.  Be grateful for the kindness shown by others. 
  • Each evening, at bedtime, dinner, or any quiet moment, reflect as a family on the day.  Encourage children to share moments they showed or received kindness and the impact those interactions may have had.  Not every day is a great day, and that’s OK too!  Talk about ways things could be different the following day.
  • Once your kids are in bed, an adult should write a note “from the Gracious Gobbler” on one of the cards provided and leave it with the Gracious Gobbler for the family to read together the following morning.  The note should be sincere, clear, and identify the specific behavior for which it is delivered.  This is an additional way to recognize and appreciate the efforts someone in your home has made.
  • Recognize whoever you feel is deserving of a note from the Gracious Gobbler that evening.  There may be times that you feel it is necessary to acknowledge more than one person on a given day.
  • Although large gifts are not necessary, if you feel a small token of appreciation left with the note is deserving for someone in your home, that is entirely up to you.
  • The night before Thanksgiving, put your turkey away for the following year.  If you have saved your notes, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to read through the notes you have accumulated and recognize your efforts in creating a world of kindness and the grace you have brought into your home.

Where to get your family’s Gracious Gobbler…

You can purchase your family’s gracious gobbler here as well as refills of the special gratitude notes. What a beautiful way to celebrate each other this holiday season. And, in 2020, part of the proceeds from every sale of a gracious gobbler will go to assisting children right here in the U.S. through literacy and food programs. This year’s proceeds are going to the International Dyslexia Association. “The mission of the IDA is to create a future for all individuals who struggle with dyslexia and other related reading differences so that they may have richer, more robust lives and access to the tools and resources they need.”

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families

Thankful Tree Tradition

I love this kit from Etsy that makes creating your own Thankful Tree so much simpler. Go on a nature hike with your kids the day after Halloween to walk off all the sugar and the extra wiggles, and while your hiking gather up some sticks to use for your Thankful Tree. You kit comes with everything you need, from the colorful cut out leaves, to twine to hang them. Place your sticks in the mason jar that’s also included that reads “count your blessings, name them one by one” and allow your littles to express gratitude everyday by writing down something they’re thankful for on a leaf and adding it to your tree.

Or, you could save this activity to do with your family on Thanksgiving Day, and have each of your guests write something they’re thankful for. This is a tradition you can repeat year after year. Support small business and head back over to this Etsy shop to purchase more leaves as the years pass. I simply love this tradition, don’t you?

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

While you’re out gathering sticks for your Thankful Tree, encourage your kids to express gratitude in other ways in nature. Click here to print my Gratitude Scavenger Hunt printable and begin teaching your children about mindfulness today!

Football Game

Football in the fall is a wonderful pastime. So, pack the kids up with heavy blankets and a thermos of hot chocolate or hot cider and head to a football game. Whether it’s a local high school game, favorite college team, or even a true NFL game, I bet your kids will love the adventure of it all and cheering on their favorite team. Or, you could throw a tailgate party at home, with special snacks and festive decorations. Check out our favorite game day recipes and ideas here.

Turkey On The Table Family Tradition

I absolutely love this tradition as well! This kind of reminds me of Elf On The Shelf, only it teaches your children how to cultivate gratitude for all of life’s blessings. Here’s more about the Turkey On The Table mission…

The Mission…

“Did you know that gratitude is a learned behavior? Turkey on the Table® is a book & activity that encourages the whole family to express and display their gratitude. Our goal is to turn thankfulness into a daily routine. As parents, we want to instill values in our children that help them understand and appreciate all of life’s blessings. Cultivating a grateful heart helps create a happy child!

Not only will your family experience the benefits of being thankful, you will also experience the joy of giving, knowing that 10 meals will be provided to someone in need with each Turkey on the Table® sold. To date, over 1 million meals have been donated by Turkey on the Table® through our partnership with Feeding America®. Thank you for joining us in our effort to reach 1 million meals provided!”

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families

Proudly display your turkey on your table and watch your children look forward to writing something they’re thankful for each day on a new feather to add to your turkey. Everyone in the family can participate in this activity…mom and dads included! Then, on Thanksgiving Day, take turns reading aloud all of the many things your grateful for! Get your Turkey on the Table here. You can even purchase feather replacements, holiday hats and scarves, cute little gold glasses, and other accessories for your turkey in their dedicated shop! This will be a definite tradition in our home for years to come.

Go For A Leaf Drive

Much like you’d go for a Christmas Light Drive or Halloween Decor drive, this Thanksgiving season pack your kids up in their comfy clothes and go for a Leaf Drive. We are fortunate enough to live in Michigan where the leaves are brilliantly colored and simply spectacular. You could visit a nearby park, or search for the most scenic drives near you to fully appreciate the beauty of the season together. Plus, they just might fall asleep in their car seats allowing you some much-needed quiet time. Bonus!

Bake Up a New Treat

Baking is still all the rage in our house into November and doesn’t stop till spring, truthfully. There are so many fun and festive baking ideas you can try this Thanksgiving season with your kids. Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving treats for kids that your entire family will love!

Go To A Thanksgiving Day Parade

We live near Detroit Michigan, so going to a Thanksgiving Day parade is a possibility for us which we’re super thankful for. But, if you live an area where there is no parades, make the Thanksgiving Day Parades that are aired on TV a tradition in your home.

Every Thanksgiving Day morning, I bake up fresh cinnamon rolls and our first tradition of the day is to watch the parade together, bouncing back and forth between America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that’s just a few miles away in Detroit and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC.

We love watching all of the different floats and marching bands, and of course getting a glimpse of Santa Clause at the end which instantly puts me in the Christmas spirit. The parade is a family favorite every year with our cinnamon rolls and sets a fun, festive feeling for the day of gratitude, family, and food ahead.

Virtual Turkey Trot

Join the world’s largest virtual Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving. You’ll get a medal and your bib number in the mail so you can do your own turkey trot whenever you’re able too. Invite family and friends to join in the fun, pick a beautiful park to run or stroll through, and celebrate your health and wellness this Thanksgiving. What a fun and active tradition to start with your kids, right? And they’ll love receiving their awesome turkey medal.

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families

Acts of Kindness

Perhaps, this holiday season you can think of acts of kindness to share with others. Get your kids involved in writing cards to loved ones, or baking up some bread or cookies to take to friends that are alone this holiday season. Choose a simple act of kindness to do each week throughout the holiday season to spend love and cheer.

Thanksgiving Crafts & Activities

Here are some fun ideas for those drab and dreary, cold and rainy November days. I love these giant coloring pages from Etsy that will keep your kids busy for hours. And, I love these creative fall and thanksgiving-themed play dough kits. My favorites have to be the pumpkin pie kit, giving thanks kit, and this farm-themed play dough kit. These make such great gifts and will keep the little entertained for hours. And, if you’re looking for some FREE printable Thanksgiving coloring sheets, click here!

Thanksgiving Traditions for Families
Thanksgiving Traditions for Families

Board Games & S’mores

As the fall season is winding down and the days seem to be shorter and shorter, I feel the tug toward more simple, hygge moments at home. And, this definitely includes nights around the fireplace playing board games and enjoying a sweet treat. S’mores are some of our absolute favorite desserts, and I have a whole collection of our favorite s’mores recipes here.

But, seriously, there’s nothing quite like roasting marshmallows over the fire and playing a game, this one is our absolute favorite of all time. Check out our complete listing of family-favorite board games here, or print your very own Thanksgiving-themed bingo or memory game to enjoy!

Cook A Mini Thanksgiving Feast

Planning on traveling to family’s houses for Thanksgiving dinner, but are craving a little feast for just you and your littles? Or, are you hosting Thanksgiving for the first time at your home? No fear, I’ve got you covered. I’ve got a step by step plan to help you host your first Thanksgiving without wanting to rip your hair out. Plus, I’ve included our perfectly timed simple Thanksgiving menu that features sides that require the same oven temp and cook time so that you can finish cooking the feast with ease.

Hot Chocolate & Christmas Decorating

When I was little, the day after Thanksgiving was always the day we decorated for Christmas. We ate leftovers, made hot chocolate, and put our tree up and decorated the whole house. I kind of rope it into a Thanksgiving tradition, because to me it kind of is. We held off until after Turkey Day to decorate and then in one huge swoop got it done in a day so we could enjoy the lights and decor as long as possible. I plan to continue this tradition with our family.

How about your family? Do you have a tradition when it comes to decorating for the holidays? Knowing that we had a set aside day to decorate for Christmas was always something I looked forward to every year. Plus, if your an Elf on the Shelf family, maybe your Turkey on the Table can usher him/her in as you transition from one holiday season to another.

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