10 Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with your Kids this year

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10 Thanksgiving traditions to start with your kids this year that will result in tons of memories and thankful hearts! Our entire family LOVES Thanksgiving. Every year, my husband makes sure to purchase the biggest turkey he can find so that he can enjoy leftovers for a week. He’s usually off of work, so we all get to enjoy a little extra family time, a great meal, and will look through the Black Friday ads. As the boys have been getting older, we’ve been adding some family traditions to our Thanksgiving Day. We look forward to them each year!

If you’d like to learn about a few Thanksgiving traditions to start with your kids this year, we’ve got you covered! All are pretty cost-effective (if they cost anything) and shouldn’t take a lot of time, but will result in some pretty amazing memories I’m sure you’ll cherish for years to come.

10 thanksgiving traditions to start with the kids this year from that homeschool family

10 Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with your Kids this Year

1. Volunteer

If you don’t already, volunteering is a fabulous way to give back to the community as a family. It’ll teach your kids all sorts of life lessons and will encourage them to continue doing good for the world. This is definitely one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions to start this year – it could even result in a way to help your community throughout the entire year!

If you can’t volunteer ON Thanksgiving Day, pick a day in the month of November to help out. Whether you physically go to a location and serve meals to those in need, purchase supplies and drop off sandwiches you made, or even be a host site for a warm coat collection, there are so many ways to help.

To find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, a quick Google search or post in your local community Facebook Group should result in many options.

2. Keep a Journal

Not the kind that you write in each night, but the kind that you write in ONLY on Thanksgiving. At the very top of my list of Thanksgiving traditions to start is to keep a journal. Every year, have each person at the table write down something. They could write down what they’re thankful for, what their favorite side dish was, a quote, or, really, whatever comes to mind.

Over the years, the Thanksgiving table will change…kids will grow older, loved ones may leave us, new family members will join in. Just imagining looking back on years and years of time spent together is enough to have me push “purchase” on a journal purchase online.

3. Decorate the Table

I’m sure we’ve all see those super-elaborate table settings. I mean, many of them are downright gorgeous, but, if I’m being 100% honest, I’ll prefer handmade construction paper cut-outs of pumpkins and turkeys over magazine-worthy centerpieces. Absolutely NO offense if you prefer them – they’re gorgeous, but I know they just don’t fit our current life with kids.

Encourage the kids to create their own centerpieces and decorations. Give them a pack of construction paper, kid-safe scissors, crayons…maybe even some glitter glue…and let them craft to their heart’s content. Have them practice their handwriting and spelling by making seating cards. Let them misspell names – it’s all part of the learning process and, honestly, it’s freaking adorable. Who knows, you may even end up with some new inside jokes?

4. Choose Secret Gift Exchange Recipients

As families grow and kids get older, holiday shopping can become crazy expensive. And, to be honest, we usually end up buying a bunch of gifts that aren’t even needed. Take this opportunity of being together with family to organize a secret gift exchange.

Write all the names on separate pieces of paper, fold them up, and stick them in a container (after all, this is Thanksgiving, there should be plenty of containers available for leftovers). Shake it up and let each person pick a name. Each person then creates or purchases a gift for the person they selected.

If you’re more of a high-tech family, my family has used Elfster in past years and it works great!

5. Make a Family Recipe

Remember when we used to look through a recipe box to find recipes? Back before internet searches and ratings existed, we could tell how loved a recipe was by the number of stains on a recipe card. I’ll always remember my Nana’s recipe box – she would write down the recipes on simple index cards, put those cards inside plastic protective sleeves, and store them in her recipe box. Just thinking about that recipe box gives me all the feels. One day, I hope to inherit it, but, for now, I have a few of her recipes that I’ve written down.

Making a family recipe is one of many ways to keep the memory of a lost loved one alive. Make it a point to select a recipe, whether it’s a typical Thanksgiving recipe or not, and add it to your table this year. Let the kids help you make the recipe and share with them the memories the recipe holds. Over time, the recipe you hold near and dear could have the same effect on your kids. This is, for sure, on of the top Thanksgiving traditions to start with your kids this year.

Don’t have any family recipes to try? Absolutely no worries! Ask your friends for their favorite recipes or consider doing a quick Google search. Our friends over at The Busy Llama have a recipe for Asparagus Casserole that sounds interesting – maybe you want to give that a try?

6. Give Thanks

I mean, this is kind of an obvious, but hang with me a sec. How many years have you looked at all the Thanksgiving ideas on Pinterest and said “oh yeah, I’m for sure doing this!” and then….you didn’t. No shame, I’m right there with you. This one, though? Let’s make it a point to make this one of the new Thanksgiving traditions to start this year.

There’s a number of ways to do this! You could create a paper chain by having the kids write down something their thankful for each day in November and displaying it above a doorway or on a wall. You could write things down on little pieces of paper and store them in a mason jar. You could even use a sharpie and write all the thanks down on a pumpkin.

7. Go for a Walk

get your fall scavenger hunt text with arrow pointing to an image of the free scavenger hunt from That Homeschool Family

You know how the leaves have been changing and you’re always thinking about how you should go take a walk to see them? But then life happens and you miss out on all the gorgeousness that the fall season has to offer? Tell the kids to put on their coats and shoes (and, if you’re living in MY house, you might need to tell people to put their CLOTHES on #freeasabird) while those leaves are still on the trees and go for a walk.

This can be a hectic time of year and taking a moment to stop and smell the roses see the leaves, will do so much good for your emotional well being. Take a moment to show the kids how beautiful the world around them is and teach them to appreciate the changing of the seasons. You might even consider printing our our Walk in the Fall Scavenger Hunt to bring along!

Not only is this one of the best Thanksgiving traditions to start, but you may even consider going for a walk on every holiday. It’s such a great way to escape the chaos and reconnect.

8. Raise a Toast

My kids love doing “cheers.” They’ll raise their glasses up at random points during dinner for a group “cheers.” Heck, they’ll even do “cheers” with a food (I’ve legit done this with a cheesestick). Raising a toast doesn’t always have to be about alcohol. Raising a toast is about celebrating.

You could do a general group toast or, if you really want to make it exciting, go around the table and have each person say something they’re celebrating that night. It might be similar to going around the table saying “I’m thankful for…,” but, this time you’ll say “I’m celebrating…”

9. Set out Wrapping Paper

If your family has an Elf come visit them each year, then you could totally follow one of our favorite Christmas traditions as we do. If not, no worries, you might need to change things up a bit, but this is still doable.

In a nutshell, every year, my kids choose their own Christmas wrapping paper and leave it out on Thanksgiving night for Santa to collect as he drops the Elf on the Shelf off. For more details, definitely check out the article linked above. This is one of our favorite traditions and it actually helps to save me time and money! Definitely consider making it one of your Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family this year!

10. Enjoy a Special Breakfast

Every year, my family eats the same breakfast for Christmas morning. There’s a chance that I might make this meal for breakfast at some other point during the year, but it is 100% ALWAYS Christmas breakfast. Consider doing something similar for Thanksgiving!

You could something involved like create sticky buns from scratch, or make homemade pancakes. You could keep it simple and do some cinnamon buns from a tub in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. I mean, I love ALL of those options because they’re all special and delicious to me. Do what fits for your family and enjoy the moments you get to spend together as you eat that meal.

What do you think?

Were those some great suggestions for Thanksgiving traditions to start this year or what? We hope that these suggestions can help you and your family to spend some quality time making memories together.

Do you have any suggestions for other Thanksgiving traditions to start? Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving tradition that you and your family have been enjoying for years? Maybe it’s a newer tradition? Either way – we’d love to hear about it! Just leave a comment to share!

- Elizabeth (and the kids. and the husband. even the dog.)

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