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15 Fun Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with Your Kids

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What are some family traditions for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And if you’re a new family, you may be looking for some Thanksgiving traditions you can call your own.

It can be hard to come up with new ideas for a holiday when you’ve done the same thing for so many years.

Not to worry. I’m here to give you some of my favorite traditions for you to include at your next Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve even added a twist to some of the old go-tos you just have to check out!

If you’re looking for even more ideas, consider using this Thanksgiving bucket list year after year.

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What are some good Thanksgiving traditions?

men running a race
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU

1. Turkey Trot

Start your Thanksgiving morning off by getting that blood pumping. Most cities have an annual fun run or walk to get everyone up and moving around before consuming all those delicious calories.

And if you can’t find one in your area, take some time after dinner and go for a walk around your neighborhood.

stack of pancakes with strawberries and syrup
Photo by Ash

2. Special Breakfast

After that early morning run (or even if you’ve decided to sleep in), grab yourself a special breakfast. This has always been one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

We usually just grab some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for a quick treat. But depending on what time you’re planning on having dinner, you may want to have something more nutritious for breakfast. Of course, make sure your Thanksgiving breakfast is something easy. (You already have a lot to do.)

marching band in a parade
Photo by Александр from Pexels

3. Parade

This Thanksgiving tradition can be done a couple different ways.

You can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (always a favorite with the kids). You could even go to NYC to watch it in person.

Or you could have your kids put on a parade of their own. Use shoe boxes (or Amazon boxes) to create floats. And buy special balloons to use as parade balloons.

two kids performing on stage
Photo by cottonbro

4. Put on a Play

I stole this idea from an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the family put on a play of the first Thanksgiving.

If you don’t want to recreate the first Thanksgiving, why not write your own play. Either about your family’s first Thanksgiving or what the perfect Thanksgiving would look like.

Or let your kiddo decide on the theme.

brown and white checked napkin on dinner plate
Photo by Pixabay

5. Special Table Settings

Make a special place for everyone invited to your shindig.

Use a Pilgrim hat, fall leaves, a turkey, or other favorite design. Then write each person’s name on the setting. Let your kiddos help by writing the names or making the designs. They can always add some glitter, sequins or other craft item to make it more special.

football on grass
Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur

6. Backyard Football

This Thanksgiving Day tradition might be better if you have older kids. But it’s still a way to get everyone outside and work off some of that turkey.

Make special game day shirts and have a trophy for the winning team to make this tradition something everyone will look forward to.

Monopoly board game
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

7. Board Games

Board games are one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions, as we’ve been playing them as long as I can remember.

Do a group clean-up to clear away leftovers and dirty dishes and bust out your favorite board games.

Here’s some of my favorites (for large and small groups) that we’ve enjoyed in years past:

  1. Wits & Wagers (6+) – A fun, family trivia game where you don’t need to know everything to be the big winner.
  2. Keys to the Castle (8+) – Race to be the first one to unlock the doors and escape the castle. (Super easy to learn and quick to play.)
  3. Spy Alley (8+) – Be the first spy to make it past your family before anyone can uncover who you really are.
  4. Monopoly (8+) – Spend Thanksgiving weekend becoming a real estate tycoon!
  5. Family Feud (8+) – Face off against your family to come up with the #1 answer.
  6. Pictionary (8+) – An update on the classic game includes dry erase boards, markers and shorter play time.
  7. Do You Really Know Your Family? (8+) – Use trivia and challenge cards to see who knows the family the best.
  8. Jungle Cruise (8+) – Become a skipper and be the first to navigate the jungle waters while reciting some silly puns.
  9. The Villainous series (10+) – Play as a Disney villain and stop the heroes from winning.
  10. Scattergories (13+) – Be the first to come up with the answers. (Play as teams to include more people.)
Thanksgiving traditions: board game
front of movie theater at night
Photo by Nathan Engel

8. See a Movie

Many new movies come out during the holidays. And although this has never been one of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions, I definitely know families that finish meals and head to the nearest theater.

If you don’t want to miss out on the family fun at home (or another helping of turkey), screen your own movie at home.

woman writing in a journal
Photo by Pixabay

9. Start a Gratitude Journal

This is a Thanksgiving tradition you can start at the beginning of November by writing entries every day throughout the month. Or wait and start it on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a great way to recenter yourself and teach your kiddos how to be thankful for the world around them.

people holding hands around a table
Photo by RODNAE Productions

10. Say What You’re Thankful For

This is a popular Thanksgiving tradition in many homes. Go around the table before dinner and have everyone say what they are thankful for.

As an introvert, who doesn’t like being put on the spot, give your guests a warning beforehand that you want to incorporate this into your family traditions, so they can be prepared.

Thanksgiving card
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

11. Create Thankful Cards for Each Person

If you’re not one to go around the table and tell everyone what you’re thankful for, consider making individual cards for each person. (This is great for those introverts.)

Get enough cards for everyone you have invited. (You could even use it as your special place setting.)

Write the individual’s name on the envelope. And write a reason that you are thankful for them. (But don’t seal those cards just yet.)

As other guests arrive, have them go around the table writing in each of the cards, saying why they are thankful for each person.

After dinner, have everyone open their cards. (It’s optional if they want to be read aloud.)

This is sure to be a Thanksgiving tradition your guests will cherish and remember fondly.

large pots of soup
Photo by Timur Saglambilek

12. Volunteer or Donate Food

Take some time out of your holiday to help others who are less fortunate by volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter. This Thanksgiving tradition is a great way to teach your kiddos to be thankful for all they have while helping others in the community.

If you don’t have time to volunteer on Thanksgiving but still want to help out, donating food to a shelter or pantry is a great way to get involved.

woman holding a pie
Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

13. Make a Special Treat

Maybe it’s homemade pumpkin pie. Or a special recipe handed down through the generations. Maybe it’s just a new dish each year. Whatever the treat is, make it something meaningful to your family and have it year after year.

woman and toddler boy reading a book
Photo by Lina Kivaka

14. Read Thanksgiving Books

Learning the reason we celebrate holidays is something we should share with our kids each year. So, find some fun Thanksgiving books to share with your kiddos. Here’s a list of my favorite Thanksgiving books for toddlers.

mother and son decorating a Christmas tree
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva

15. Decorate for Christmas

After everyone has eaten dinner, the leftovers are put away and the dishes are done, have a Christmas decorating party!

We usually wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving to start decorating but what a more fun Thanksgiving tradition than getting ready for the next holiday.


There you have it: all the fun Thanksgiving traditions to start with your kids. You certainly don’t have to incorporate all these suggestions into your Thanksgiving festivities, but traditions allow us a special way to make memories during the holidays. Find the ones that are easy for you and resonate with your family, and enjoy your time together.

Did you find a new Thanksgiving tradition for your family? Let us know how you’ll be spending the holiday in the comments.

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15 Fun Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with Your Kids

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