Classic Thanksgiving Activities That Should Be Part of Your Family Traditions

Classic Thanksgiving Activities That Should Be Part of Your Family Traditions

Ah…Thanksgiving! The word itself brings up images of family traditions, delicious dishes, and great fun. Let’s look at some classic Thanksgiving activities that should be part of your family traditions.


Giving thanks is the reason for the season. Have each person at the table share something for which they are grateful. This activity is not only a lovely family tradition (and sometimes entertaining when the tots and the teens speak up), but it also models the importance of gratitude for the entire family. So light the candles on the dining room table, get out the placemats, and share the warmth of appreciation.

A great way to have everyone share what they are grateful for is to have the person who will finish the blessing start by explaining that they will go around the table and everyone will share. They start, and then when everyone has had a chance, that person will finish the blessing with something that includes your faith tradition or blessings for your community.

Cooking Side Dishes

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without traditional side dishes! In addition to any favorite recipes already on the menu, consider adding one of the following: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing (either bread or oyster), macaroni and cheese, vegetable casseroles (look for green bean, broccoli, and corn recipes), and candied apple slices.

Whether you love looking through your grandmother’s cookbooks or recipe cards or want to access everything on your iPad, update your Thanksgiving recipe library. This activity can be especially important if you have elderly relatives who always “add a little something” to their recipes. Unless you have guests who have already arrived (and they aren’t close family or friends), why not be comfy and wear women’s loungewear for cooking side dishes? You’ll be more relaxed and won’t spill anything on the nice outfit you plan to wear for Thanksgiving dinner.

Baking Desserts Together

Of course, there are pies (apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan, just for starters) but also traditional cakes (German apple, caramel, pumpkin spice, and cheesecake, among others). Baking desserts together as a family the night before Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition. It’s a great time to share stories and learn techniques such as how to make that perfect pie crust or the secret of adding extra cinnamon to the pie recipe.

Making desserts is often the first kitchen task that appeals to little ones. If you are baking in advance, think about what jobs are “kid-sized.” Everything from stirring ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon to rolling out dough to adding premeasured ingredients to the mix can be good tasks for children. While we don’t typically think of baking as a math lesson, it is also a great opportunity to practice using fractions. If your kids are old enough to understand fractions, have them help you figure out which measuring cups and spoons to use and measure the ingredients. You can even let the little ones wear kids’ pajamas for this activity the night before Thanksgiving baking. After dinner, give them their baths, get them into their jammies, and then let them help. When you are all done, they’ll just need to brush their teeth before bed.

Thanksgiving Décor

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and welcoming family and friends into your home. As such, Thanksgiving décor traditionally centers around a wreath on the front door and items for your table, from serving dishes to centerpieces. Classic Thanksgiving colors include brown, gold, and orange. In addition to working these elements into your decor, keep warm winter whites in mind, as they look so cozy. Textures that look rich because of their thickness and softness are also great options for Thanksgiving.

Parades, Football, and 10Ks—Oh My!

There is more to Thanksgiving Day activities than eating! Many families like to start the morning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It’s easy to have this on the TV while you are getting the turkey ready to go into the oven. Football on Thanksgiving Day is also a requirement for many families. If you have football fans in your crew, find out when their favorite games will take place during the holiday weekend. You may want to schedule other activities around the key games. For non-football fans, this can be a great time to go shopping, catch a movie, or play a board game.

Although a bit newer, 5K and 10K turkey trots have become great Thanksgiving Day traditions. Why not pull on the women’s activewear and get some exercise before the big feast? If you will have a full house for Thanksgiving, see what walks and runs are available in your area and consider putting together a family team to participate. You can often raise money for worthwhile causes this way, too.

By focusing on gratitude, cooking, baking, Thanksgiving decor, and special Thanksgiving events, you will be well on your way to preserving classic Thanksgiving traditions for your family for generations to come. Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving this year!


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