Thanksgiving is a time for togetherness, food, and creating memories with your family and loved ones. It’s always great to see people who you might not have seen in a long time and share stories and laughs--and sometimes uncomfortable political discussions. But the tried-and-true holiday traditions can get stale over the years. This Thanksgiving, why not mix it up and create some new holiday traditions while you’re at it? Here are some tips to liven up your Thanksgiving get-together this year.
Everyone likes games, so why not have a family trivia night after the big meal? It’s a great way to bond with your loved ones and show off your “useless” knowledge in the process! You can even plan ahead of time and have a prize for the winner to up the ante.
Family Movie Night
What could be more fun than enjoying a classic movie with your family? Whether you choose a comedy, cartoon, or drama, try to find something you think everyone in your family can at least tolerate, but hopefully enjoy. This can be a great way to bond without having to get back into the uncomfortable conversation you might have gotten into with your uncle who had one too many glasses of wine at dinner.
Collect Donations for Your Local Food Pantry
Thanksgiving is about thankfulness and counting our blessings. But it’s also about giving. Since you’re all together, why not volunteer at a soup kitchen or tell your family members to each bring some non-perishable food items to Thanksgiving so you can gather them up and take a big box of food to a local shelter or food pantry. This is a great way to teach the children in your family about the importance of kindness and care for their fellow man while also giving everyone the big warm fuzzies by helping others in need.
The kids will love this one! Get the kids and the adults alike in on a craft night. You can do the traditional hand-traced turkey that you then color in as you like, paint pine cones like turkeys, and glue a little turkey head you can make out of craft paper, or get messy and finger paint. The important thing is to have fun, so get creative with it!
Thanksgiving TV Binge
Let’s face it, everyone’s pretty sluggish after that big Thanksgiving meal. That’s why it might be a good idea to veg out on the sofa and watch Thanksgiving episodes of your favorite TV shows. Everyone can relax and have a laugh together and recharge their batteries for any other activities you have planned later in the evening.
If your family isn’t the trivia type, you can play whatever game you like. Scrabble, Pictionary, Monopoly, or a card game like Uno or even poker (instead of money, use candy corn as poker chips). Whatever game you choose, you’re sure to have a blast with people you might not see very often.
Make Thanksgiving Cupcakes
This is one the kids will have a lot of fun with. Make regular (or pumpkin-flavored!) cupcakes and have a table set up for the kids to decorate them with different colored icing, candy corn, fall-colored sprinkles, Reeses Pieces, and any other topping you like. The kids can show off their creativity and can eat their masterpieces afterward.
Think Outside of Turkey
Most people enjoy a turkey or ham for their Thanksgiving meal, but you might want to do something different this year to spice it up and put some new dishes on the Thanksgiving table. Roasted duck is a great alternative. You could also opt for a vegetarian meal with stuffed squash. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s hearty enough to replace the richness of turkey or ham.
Research Your Family History
What better time to learn about your family tree than when everyone in the family is gathered together? This is a great opportunity for the younger generation to learn about their family’s past and about the people who are no longer with you but your older family members have fond memories of.
These days, even adults love coloring books. They even make them specifically for adults now! Have a coloring table set up with crayons, markers, and coloring books, and let anyone who wants to join in on the fun have a seat. Afterward, everyone can show off their masterpieces!
In the wake of COVID-19, some families are hosting virtual Thanksgiving celebrations over Skype, Zoom, or any of the many other video chatting programs. This is also a good chance for people who are too far away or cannot travel to get in on the celebration and connect with loved ones.
This is a time-honored tradition in many families. Everyone gets a bongo card with things related to Thanksgiving on them (cornucopias, turkeys, cranberry sauce, fallen leaves, pumpkins) and when you see one of these objects, you mark your card accordingly. It’s a fun activity people can casually play the whole day.
Jar of Thanks
This is a very endearing activity everyone in the family will love. Everyone takes small pieces of paper and writes down something they are thankful for and puts it in the jar. After Thanksgiving dinner, everyone passes the jar around and each person will read one of the notes.
However, you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving, make sure you don’t forget the most important part: celebrating with your loved ones and remembering all the blessings you have in your life.