How to Create New Thanksgiving Traditions

How to Create New Thanksgiving Traditions

Breathe new life into stale Thanksgiving traditions with our creative ideas.

By: Amanda Palmer

Holidays can quickly become routine if you let them. Spice it up this year with a change of pace or a change of scenery that will be a crowd-pleaser for the next decade of celebrations. Let’s simplify the biggest feast of the year into categories of people, place, palette and purpose.

Chances are, the same core group of guests will show up year after year. But what if you invited a neighbor, or your hairstylist who can’t make it home this year? As this holiday is time to focus on gratitude and generosity, set out to include an acquaintance at your table. If you’re not hosting, request a plus one, or maybe three.

If you’re fortunate enough to travel during the holiday, plan a new location! Many families will swap hosts from year to year to alleviate pressure of both hosting and traveling. Break the routine and find a central location where you can rent a large cabin, campground or banquet hall — a getaway for everyone!

Tip: Don’t hesitate to take it outside with a fire pit, a cooler of drinks and AM radio to catch the game.

When it comes to food, a large golden turkey is a must. Uncle Jim’s sweet potatoes, grandma’s creole beans, Aunt Lindy’s homemade mashed potatoes — these all become staples, which can be positively nostalgic or considerably boring.

  • Create a potluck online where folks can sign up for a course and decide what to bring.
  • Skip the pie altogether and have a family member bring their go-to dessert.
  • Host a themed Thanksgiving! Have a few extra side items from a specific country or region.

Guests can become easily distracted between the food and football, so adding in those small, special traditions will make the holiday humbling.

To keep the children occupied, have the host designate a craft area. Someone can be in charge of bringing supplies instead of a dish each year.


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  • Hand-tracing turkeys
  • Designing place cards and napkin rings
  • Painting small pumpkins
  • Making hats from construction paper

Even the grown-ups can get creative. Have a large poster board in an accessible area where everyone can write what they are thankful for this year.

Competitions of any sort can be the highlight of a family gathering. From bag toss to cards to a 5k run in your town, there’s something for everyone!

To make these changes stick for years to come, write them down in a journal or on a notecard you can stick in a recipe box. Photos can help jog the memory, too. You can even keep some of the crafts or the poster board from year to year, adding on as you go.

Share your family’s unique, fun and creative traditions with the community in the comments below!

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