Create deeper connections with friends and family by creating new traditions to celebrate the holiday.
While most Thanksgiving traditions are focused on the food: the golden turkey, the tart cranberries, and the rich and creamy pumpkin pie, there can be so many more delightful elements to the day to bring in more personal traditions each year. Besides simply watching the Thanksgiving Day parade or football games, we all relish a deeper connection to our friends and family with who we celebrate each season. Here are five traditions that include the table but also move beyond it, from crafts to events to make the holiday more memorable, connected, and festive.
Table Cloth Keepsake
After days of food prep, our festive feast can often end in an hour and leave us wondering what to do next. We love the idea of having our guests decorate their part of the tablecloth. Simply cover the table with a white fabric tablecloth and scatter cloth markers along with the table. Ask your guests to draw what they’re thankful for, their favorite Thanksgiving memory or even a quirky self-portrait. By the time the meal ends, you'll have a reusable memento to dress up the table year after year.
Have the Kids Set the Table
Setting the table can be a lesson in tradition or whimsy, your choice! It’s a good thing to teach kids proper table setting etiquette at a young age (where does that dessert spoon go again?), as well as respecting and honoring family heirlooms and understanding their history (grandmother’s serving platter!). But if you want to let the kids have more of a say in the decor, crafting autumnal napkin rings out of construction paper or writing and decorating little name cards for each person’s place setting can help them feel more engaged and give them something fun to do the week leading up to Thanksgiving.
Exercising with friends and family can really bring everyone together in a healthy and entertaining way. Most cities host some sort of Turkey Trot, often raising money for a local charity. Shake it up a bit by having custom shirts made for your family to wear to the trot. Or if you aren’t a runner but want to participate, have a slice of yummy pumpkin pie waiting for family members at the finish line. Not near a town with a Trot? Create your own in your neighborhood or local park for your family to participate in. Invite friends and members of the community to join in and don’t forget your turkey hat!
We all overcook for the holidays, that’s part of the fun! But at the day’s end, we can only eat turkey sandwiches for so long. This year, when you send your invitations out for Thanksgiving, start a new tradition by inviting people to bring their own leftover containers to fill up. Guests will be delighted to take home several boxes of food to enjoy for the next few days, or even freeze it and take it to work for lunch or send it to school with your kids. A thick slice of ham and a piece of cornbread will bring a little spark of joy (and a tad bit of envy) to any school lunch.
Christmas Ornament Exchange
Looking for something special to do after the big meal? With minimal effort but maximum memories? Start a Christmas ornament exchange! Let guests know with plenty of time to shop, order, or make an ornament to bring. Be sure to give a price limit so nobody goes overboard, and keep the rules simple. Draw numbers after dinner. Each person starting with #1 can pick an ornament and either keep what they have or steal from another guest. One steal maximum to save the game going till the wee hours! This can be a lighthearted new tradition that guests can fondly look forward to all year.