In the US, Thanksgiving is the holiday that most revolves around getting the extended family together, because if you don’t have a bunch of crazy family members around, it’s just a big meal. In 2014, AAA Travel Agency reported that 46.3 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles on Thanksgiving weekend, making it one of the most traveled times of the year. I can only imagine the amount of car fights, family feuds, and afternoon naps caused by turkey comas that came with that.

But what happens if you don’t have a big family full of drama to make the holiday special? That’s the sad state we’ve been in the last 5 years or so, and it’s been difficult to make it feel like a special day without the large crowd. So, my remedy has been to come up with Thanksgiving traditions that we do every year so as to make the day feel more like a holiday. And here they are, 10 Thanksgiving Traditions you can start this year:

10 Thanksgiving Traditions

1.Hand Out Turkey Tickets

New to me this year, I love the idea. Given out the first week of November, a 4″ x 6′ long roll of paper is given to any family member wishing to receive Thanksgiving dinner. It’s their meal ticket, so to speak. Their assignment is that the entire roll of paper must be filled out with things they are thankful for from the past year. If it’s not full, they don’t get in. Here’s a beautiful example of this.

2.Have a Turkey Bowl

This is a fun two-hand-touch style that gets everyone out in the beautiful fall air and promotes a sense of family. If you have a competitive family, you can even make a trophy that the winning team gets to take home. And if you want to make it an even BIGGER deal, you can create a football field in your back yard like this family did

3.Take a Family Photo

Since people are usually dressed nicely for Thanksgiving, what a better time to take the photo for your Christmas card you’re going to send out this year? But what if you took funny pictures. Like snapping shots of all the sleeping adults on the couch?

One year at Christmas, a camera was left behind at our house by one of our relatives. When we went through the pictures on the screen to see who it belonged to, we found a picture of my uncle baking cookies in his underwear. So as a joke, we used their camera to take pictures of my father (who was visiting), husband, and 3-year-old son doing regular tasks in their t-shirts and underwear. Changing lightbulbs, taking down the Christmas tree, vacuuming the rug. Then we gave them their camera back. It was a great joke! Here’s a great post that shows a list of fun family photos you can take. 

4.Host a Football Pool

Not everyone is into the football game on TV, and this can create a sort of divide between groups. To get everyone involved, host a football pool. Don’t know where to start, here’s a great free printable from Jen Goode, instructions and all.  

5.Have a Video Game Marathon

I’m not one who usually likes the idea of video games, but it’s become somewhat of a holiday traditions for us to have a sort of video game marathon. It started with the likes of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, but Mario Kart has happened as well. I like the more active games that get everyone laughing. We can usually get my dad to play as well. 

6.Volunteer At a Food Kitchen or Charity

Many charities hand out Thanksgiving food packs the week leading up to Thanksgiving, or hand out a hot meal to the homeless on Thanksgiving. What a great way to remember everything you’re thankful for? When we see those who have less than we do, it puts things into perspective. 

7.Pass Down a Family Recipe

I learned to make apple and pumpkin pies from my mother, and each year my kids help me make Date Apple Pie, and fight over who gets to lick the whipped cream off the beaters. They get excited about it every year and will probably be expert pie makers at their grown up Thanksgivings. Now, if I my aunt Rose would just let me steal all her Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, and rolls recipes, I’d make everything perfect. 

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8.Participate in a 5k Turkey Trot

Many cities hold fun runs on Thanksgiving morning to raise money and awareness for charities. If you’re an athletic family, this could be a great tradition. To amp it up, make matching t-shirts for the whole family to wear. 

9.A Family Walk After Dinner

After eating until your pants don’t fit, getting out for a walk after dinner will help aide digestion for the couch naps that are sure to follow.

10.Do a Thanksgiving Puzzle 

As the evening gets quieter, break out a new puzzle that grandmas, aunts, uncles, and cousins can all get involved in, but won’t require loud energy like a board game, so the sleepers won’t be disturbed. A new puzzle each year, or the same one each year, making it a tradition will build fond memories of fighting over who gets to place the last piece, or who the champion puzzler in the family is.  

And there you have it. No gathering should be without entertainment and great food, so adding some additional fun to Thanksgiving will step it up notch. 

-Tara

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