92 thoughts on “What are YOUR Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions?

  1. In 1998 we began using the Thanksgiving tablecloth. Everyone that sits around our table writes a message of thanksgiving with a permanent pen on it every year. If a child is too young to write she dictates what she is thankful for and it gets recorded for her. After 16 years the tablecloth is nearly full and we all have a beautiful time remembering our thankfulness from past years. Looks like we may have to begin a new one by next year…!

    {Update from Heidi: Congratulations, Dawn! Your comment was chosen by our team to be printed in our new Thanksgiving eBook! You’ll get a free copy via email. Happy Thanksgiving!}

      1. This is a great idea! We are military family so our Thanksgivings are spent most of the time with friends that have become family. So this would be a great momento to have and remember the friends and all the places we have been and memories made!

      2. Yes, Heidi, I found an inexpensive cotton tablecloth. Also, I found if I wait a few days to wash it post meal, the ink sets in a bit better for less fading. 🙂

    1. That is so cool!! We have done the same thing for the past 20 years. We have a king size sheet that is full of messages, pictures and hand prints etc. Next year we will need a new sheet. It is so awesome to look over the sheet each year and remember who wrote or drew what. God Bless you and your family

  2. We always snuggle up and watch Miracle on 34th Street on Thanksgiving evening. It’s the perfect beginning to the Christmas movie watching season!

  3. In the past we have always done a Thanksgiving Tree where we would ‘hang a blessing’ each night. It was hard to keep up with so this year we are starting a new tradition with a Thankful Jar. Last night (2 weeks before Thanksgiving) we began filling the jar with things we are thankful for. On Thanksgiving Day, we will go through the jar and ‘Count our Blessings’, naming them one by one.

    1. I love this, Heather! Thank you for sharing! We just did a Thankful Tree at our women’s retreat. At the end, everyone took a tag off the tree and read it. It’s powerful!

  4. Thanksgiving is when we spend the morning with our mom cooking all day, and because she worked full time it was our favorite “family day.” We did the big meal and then would start our Christmas movies and Charlie Brown! Now with my children we are doing this with a new generation

  5. I love pumpkin rolls. My grandma would make several for dinner and then one for each family to take home. I still love them, they make me smile as I remember the love she put into each one. It makes me miss her.

      1. Sure Heidi…..
        Here you go.

        3/4 cup all purpose flour
        1/2 tsp baking powder
        1/2 baking soda
        1/2 tsp cinnamon
        2-3 drops of cloves Essential oil. (Strong and yummy)
        1/4 tsp salt
        3 large eggs
        1 cup of sugar
        2/3 cup canned pumpkin
        1 cup chopped walnut(optional)

        Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 10×15 jelly roll pan.

        Grease and flour pan.
        sprinkle a clean cotton kitchen towel with powered sugar.

        COMBINE: Flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar and Clove Oil together until frothy. ADD pumpkin. mix… and stir in the flour mixture. Spread into pan and sprinkle with nuts.
        Bake for 13-15 minute DO NOT OVERCOOK.
        Immediately loosen and turn the cake on your clean towel with powdered sugar. Roll the towel and cake into a roll starting at the 10 inch side. Cool on a wire rack or in the fridge.

        For filling you’ll need

        1 8oz. package of cream cheese(room temp and DO NOT microwave)
        1 cup of powdered sugar
        6 Tablespoons of butter
        1 tsp of vanilla.

        Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar,butter,and vanilla with a hand mixer until smooth.

        Carefully unroll the cake and remove the towel. spread the filling over the cake and RE-ROLL. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

        This recipe can be doubled. You’ll wish you had if you don’t.

        You’re gonna love it. It just makes me smile thinking about it.

  6. Since Thanksgiving was one of only three times a year that my mom would let us use the “good” china, I have fond memories of having a family toast with sparkling cider in the crystal classes. We would toast the blessings and all that we were thankful for from the previous year. Now, my family carries on with this tradition…even though the fine China is now a more modern version and the toasting happens in plain old glass instead of crystal.

  7. I love Thanksgiving because all 9 of my children get together with me, and include all 11 grandchildren so far, and everyone contributes something so it is more relaxing for all. We often make thankful turkeys to hang on a wall with something we are thankful for written on each feather. We have hot apple cider always available. Every year we try to eat a little healthier! After eating we clear the massive table and play lots of board games. We always have such a great time!I homeschooled all my children and they get along extremely well!!!

    1. I love this, Gayle! I’m trying to picture your turkeys on the wall—do you use a template? Homeschooled all the way and you survived. You.Are.My.Hero! 🙂

  8. My when my daughters were younger, they would get up early and rush downstairs in their fluffy robes to watch The Macy’s Thanksgiving Holiday parade on TV, while hubby and I would begin preparing our Turkey for oven. As the day & parade progressed they would grow more excited because we would usually rush to clean up and either host the family or pack items up to go to Grandma’s. The girls would sing “Over the River & Through The Woods”. Two years ago, Grandma & Grandpa passed away, so this year we are planning a whole different day to help us get through the sadness. May everyone have a blessed day with family & friends. Time is precious.

  9. My children always looks forward to going to Granny and PopPop’s and reading Thanksgiving scriptures. Everyone has a scripture or prayer they read before Dad says the prayer. Afterwards we go riding and look at the lights.

      1. The scriptures are from a scripture box my mama bought many many years ago that she only pulls out at Thanksgiving. They are all thanksgiving and praise and prayer scriptures of course perfect for this time of remembering.

  10. Our most important tradition is preparing dinner together. It has been my husband and I and our children only for most of our marriage so cooking the entire meal is on us. Doing it together makes it a special time for our family.

  11. We write things we are thankful for on die cut leaves and string them up. Also, if there is a decent movie in the theaters, we go to see it. We usually put up the Christmas tree the next day, but we already have tons of snow here in WI, so we are doing the tree tomorrow!

  12. I have a laminated paper tree trunk that I put on the wall a few weeks before Thanksgiving and I just keep making copies of paper leaves in different Fall colors with construction paper. We write things we are thankful for on the vein lines of the leaves and tape them all around making a full tree by Thanksgiving. We all love it. My daughter’s fiance loved it last year too (we just put it up today & he hasn’t been here yet this year).

  13. Thanksgiving is always at Nana’s house. Nana writes a poem for each grandkid that expresses her thankfulness and gives an overview of things that happened the past year. The child reads this out loud with scripture verses before dinner. After dinner we decorate Christmas ornaments.

  14. Every year make a new. placemat. Everyone that is there that year writes what they are thankful for that year on the placemat and then glue a picture in the center of the placemat of everyone who is there. Laminate the placemat and get them out every thanksgiving. Good reminder of the years gone by and the different people who you spent the special day with. Fun to go back and read about each year. Our favorite one is the one from the last year grandpa was with us!

    {update from Heidi: This comment was chosen by our team and is in our new Thanksgiving eBook! Congratulations, Judy!}

  15. My husband enjoys making the, Thanksgiving meal, a family affair! He likes to assign each person a dish (including our 4 children) and let it be their own! With a little supervision and a whole lot of laughter, our children are proud to share a meal, made by them, with the people that they love! 🙂

  16. My grandparents, parents, brothers & I all worked restaurants when I was growing up, so our tradition was working! Now that I’m married with my own kids, we are blessed to be mostly out of that business and able to create our own traditions. My 7 y/o has been asking (usually the night before) if we can invite a homeless family to our house for Thanksgiving. We haven’t figured out a way to make that happen, but I think we are volunteering as table hosts at the Richmond Community Feast- anyone can come to the convention center to share Thanksgiving for free with several hundred people. Outreach is towards homeless, seniors, students, and anyone else who might otherwise be alone that day. Table hosts can decorate their table, and help keep conversation flowing. It sounds awesome and is exactly the type of service I want to do with my kids.

  17. Our family has grown so much in the past couple of years and everyone has multiple places to go. By the time we get together on Thanksgiving night, no one wants to eat more turkey. I have 3 other siblings and our mom prepares at least one of our favorite childhood desserts. Usually her famous chocolate cake! We also get to choose one of the foods we loved that she made us when we were all still living at home. One year she was surprised when we chose tomato gravy and biscuits. We felt like kids again fighting over who was going to get which biscuit. We all have grandchildren, but this takes us back to a time of our own childhood. Each year more stories surface that we associate with these different foods. This has become a precious time to me.

  18. I’m loving all these tradition ideas! ~is it awful that we really don’t have any that don’t involve food & cooking!?? 🙂 One of my favorite things is pulling out all our old family recipes, written on worn recipe cards, ~some of them so warped & torn, they’re more scotch tape then paper 😉 my mother’s handwriting scribbles out my favorite oyster dressing recipe, which makes the house smell of shell fish & turkey 😉

  19. We gather sticks/branches on a walk through the neighborhood. Then we arrange them in a mason jar filled with rocks and take turns writing what we’re thankful for on paper leaves to hang on the branches. It makes a lovely decoration and is a great reminder of how blessed we are!

    {Update from Heidi: This comment was chosen to be in our new Thanksgiving eBook! Congratulations, Monica!}

  20. I grew up around a large family and Thanksgiving was always with every single family member from all over the state of Florida and we all went to our Uncles house and spent the entire weekend as a family cooking together, eating together, hunting together, watching everyone grow up and get married and have their own families and we’ve all carried on the tradition. After getting married and having my own children we have kept being with family a large part of our Thanksgivings. Ten years ago my husband and I took in a baby and have power of attorney over her (from birth and are actually adopting her now). She is special needs and wheelchair bound. Through the last few years of her struggles and trials and almost losing her, we have started a relatively new tradition that we make the best of every thanksgiving, and every day, being thankful for everything, because we never know when it will be our last and we invite friends who don’t have family close to have thanksgiving with us so they are not alone.

  21. We find a way to write what we love and appreciate about each other either on placemats, special papers, or on place cards. Such a special way to share our love and thoughts for each person!

  22. Last year, we started a thankful tree tradition. We made construction paper cutouts of our hands, and wrote all the things we were thankful for on them, and added them to a construction paper tree trunk, as the tree branches. We hung it on our entry door to read and re-read over and over again. It was so sweet to see the things that the others in our family were thankful for, things that maybe aren’t said out loud very often, if at all. Other than that, we just do the typical turkey dinner and pie. Some years with my parents, siblings and their families, but as our own family has grown to 10, we mostly stay home and have our own turkey dinner.

  23. I USED to make the turkey with my dad as a kid all the way up to adult….. We would chop the veggies and mix the stuffing up, stuff the bird… bake the bird………
    It was always OUR JOB…. But then about 10 years ago I discovered that over time I had become very allergic to fowl– and then my parents moved across the continent…..
    Thanksgiving has NEVER been the same since– But I love the memories

  24. Kind of simple but we enjoy cooking together we ith our daughters, and dinner with family and all month long we meditate on scriptures on thankfulness…

    {Update from Heidi: This comment was chosen by our team to be put in our new Thanksgiving eBook! Congratulations, Eva!}

  25. Our Thanksgiving tree for sure but my favorite is coffee and pie with my mom and sisters after it’s all cleaned up. We laugh and enjoy our girl time and conversation that encourages. Making the pies together with coffee 2 days before is good too. Do you see a pattern?

  26. I have recently taken up running which is really a fast walk or jog but at least I am moving. For the past two years my husband and I have joined hundreds of other crazy runners in our community on Thanksgiving morning for the “Turkey Trot 5K”. Last year two of our teens joined us so it was more of a family affair. We had a blast. And it made it easier to eat pumpkin pie later that day.

    1. I almost did the Turkey Trot a couple years ago! But then the rain…. and I became a hermit with my hot cup of cider. I may have to reconsider if they allow old ladies who would rather walk than run… hmmm *thinking cap goes on*

  27. Gathering together with either my husband’s or my side of the family and being with our 5 little miracles 🙂 My husband often hunts in the morning and we just enjoy slowing down for the day and reconnecting with precious family. Thanks for all you do, Heidi. You have been an inspiration to me reading your blog and fb posts many, many times over. Keep on keeping on, sweet lady 🙂

  28. Also one thing we started last year that we’re doing again…trace each of our hands and we all write all the things we’re thankful for and hang the leaf hands on our Thanksgiving Tree…then we write more as we think of them. It’s fun to see how the children’s hands grow each year 🙂 and I save the sweet hands so we can look back each year.

  29. It is that time of year again and a fitting time to check our hearts establishing Jesus is on throne. This season, our homes may not be paradise, our guests may complain our turkey is too dry, and our football team may not win their final game of the season, but let us be sure our Lord Jesus is our focus.

    Sisters, let the Fountain of Living Water flow in your home this Thanksgiving. Before you polish the silver. Polish your home in prayer. Before you get out grandmother’s antique table cloth, think of the hands that hemmed the fabric, thank God for the heritage of faith in those stitches..the prayers said for future generations and thank God for not only your biological grandmothers but your spiritual grandmothers, then hem your own home is prayer. Leave your own heritage. Get down on your knees and give thanks. Use this season to bring the good news to the next generation of believers.

    Before you clean out the clutter in the guest room. Pray to the Lord to clean out the throne room of your heart. Lord, clean out the clutter… anger, resentment, pride, depression, guilt. If He is not your focus, sisters, consider the question, who or what reigns on the throne of your hearts? Examine your priorities. What has crept into the place where your Lord and Savior should reign? A new house, a new car, a new job, a new diet… the pursuit of things that did not, can not, and will not deliver us from the pit or fill us with the joy only our Lord can give. In this season of thanksgiving, be thankful…

    Before you make the grocery list, make a list of blessings to thank Jesus for…most importantly, thank Him just for who He is.Be thankful…
    Thankful for Jesus, the Lamb, God’s Son, that takes away the sin of the world and fills the chasm of sin by grace.
    Thankful for Jesus, the Bread of Life, that nourishes and sustains us daily in our spiritual walk. Thankful He was broken on our behalf.
    Thankful for Jesus, the Light of the World. Thank God there is Hope in the darkness.
    Thankful for Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who tenderly guides the way home.

    As the song goes…”Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One”… Let this be a joyful season. A season of praise. A season to thank God for the redemption through His Son, Jesus and to give Him the glory.

  30. We keep a “blessings” book all year (have for years) where we write down all many ways, big and small, that God blesses us. Someone gave us a gift of money or food, someone offered us a service at a discount, someone offered to watch the kids so Mommy & Daddy could have some date time, etc, etc, and we get the book out and read through the last years’ blessings to remind us, even more, of all the things we have to be thankful for and how God gets all the glory for how He’s taken care of us and gone above and beyond to bless us with more than we deserve.

    1. Beautiful. My husband and I started keeping a journal together of the things we were thankful for a few months ago in the middle of difficult trial. It really helped to sweeten our perspective and strengthen our hearts. There is something healing about praise and gratefulness, isn’t there? Thanks for this, Carrie!

  31. Five years ago my husband, boys, and I moved back to my hometown. My mom, who had been widowed for over a decade, was ecstatic to have us move back. The last five years my family has committed to creating a memorable, adventure-filled Thanksgiving for my mom! We have journeyed to Boone, NC and volunteered at the Operation Christmas Child processing center, gone to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, traveled up North to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, and last week we celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday and my sister’s pregnancy along with her 40th birthday in Asheville. For our family the whole month of November is a celebration of the life, love, and family God has blessed us with! HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO THE ST. JOHN FAMILY! Love, Tricia

  32. The clay forms willingly The author writes purposefully Daytme comes triumphantly When you hold your sword close Victories emerge Vineyards grow New birth appears Seeds fall into healthly soil Wings fly on the wind When you hold your sword close Use it cautiously, not in a hurry My guidance will appear Be still and identify my voice Allow Me to birth conviction and bring it about Hold your sword close At the right time, I will shine down I will preside over your day You will rise and shine as the stars in the universe Hold your sword close. Be like Narnia’s Susan. Use it wisely and with precision and grace. I know your faith and allegience I trust you to hold your sword close. Fling off the critism of self. Shift your focus onto me. Let me take you to the spacious places, to train you To hone your skill. I delight in you Hold your sword close. The old is forgotten. Fresh is a new beginning. A touch of heaven. Comfort and balm for the hurting soul. Hold your sword close. The chaos calms. The Spirit hovers brooding like a tender mother. I speak and light shines vividly, triumphantly into the darkness. Hold my sword close. The sword is My truth.

    Eph. 3:20 He is able.

  33. I love the parade on TV while I make our breakfast and the b&w miracle on 34th street after dinner. You’ve inspired me not to ignore the beauty of thanksgiving 🙂 we usually get decorations out that night, but not this year!

  34. I place candle clips on my dinner plates and when we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, we go around the table and everyone says something that they are thankful for. This has been a tradition in our family for 16 years. I started this when my children were little and they loved it and still do today. 🙂 Here is a link to a picture for an example. I purchased mine from an individual, but I’m sure they can be purchased or ordered from many places. http://www.platecandleclips.com/

  35. All the family on my mother’s side always got together at my grandparents house. It was tiny and we all crammed in and just enjoyed everyone’s company. We had every dessert you could think of. It was a great time. After she passed away the family doesn’t get together much anymore and we moved away. We now invite those that don’t have family to spend Thanksgiving with to our house.

  36. I have always tried to involve our kids in talking about what they are thankful for during the month leading up to Thanksgiving. We add to a basket or tree each day what we are each thankful for, and then read them all on Thanksgiving. This year, I was blessed to find my daughter (10) already carrying on the tradition. She had decorated a glass jar to look like a turkey, cut out some paper strips, and set it in the middle of the table as our holiday centerpiece! She is very excited to fill it up, and reminds us to be thankful even when we’re busy. I’m thankful for that!

  37. We have a blended family. My stepdaughter lives in Japan, so she’s not able to join us at Thanksgiving, but my stepson flies in Wednesday night so that we can all run the Turkey Trot 5k, 10k and kid races on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a great way to start the day! Then we return home to cook, play games, eat and relax together. We don’t watch much TV usually, so the kids are thrilled to watch the parade (thanks to the DVR) and football.

  38. Our simple tradition is to spend Thanksgiving Day with an attitude of gratitude for all that God has, does, and will provide for us i.e. family, food, friends, provisions of all kinds. But especially the gift of His Son, Jesus who gives us eternal life!

  39. I am Canadian so already had our Thanksgiving! I have a toddler son and I hope to play “guess that gratitude” and we will write what we are thankful on a card and then put in a hat. We the have to guess who wrote what!

  40. We are a military family, so my favorite tradition of ours is inviting all of our friends over for dessert in the evening. Even if they have family in the area, they can come over afterwards. We build a fire, eat yummy pie, have coffee, and share all the many blessings of the year.

  41. Wow ! So many wonderful ideas ! Can’t wait to try some . I love the thanksgiving table cloth , writting down what you’re thankful for ! We will be starting that tho year !
    My husband and I love just staging in our pjs for awhile with our kids ( when does that ever get to happen , right ?!) and watch the parade . Our kids love the time to snuggle ( can’t say I don’t absolutely L O V E it 😉 then we pack up our part of lunch and head to grandmas to meet the family . In the afternoon we usually ( if I’m super lucky !) get our Christmas tree and then at least out lights on it and the evening is finished by watching ( and singing along with ) White Christmas .
    Thank you for all the wonderful new ideas !!

  42. We enjoy the typical Thanksgiving dinner and visiting with my parents that live 5 hours away. This year they will travel here to be with us, so that is going to be really special! We love to watch Hallmark Christmas movies,talking about things for which we are thankful, making Turkey hands, making the Turkey hats from paper bags, looking at the leftover fall leaves, making semi-homemade pies with different ways to decorate the crust cut-outs, going and looking at the lights, possibly putting up our tree – the thing I enjoy the most, though, is getting to spend time with family. No where we have to be but at home together. We have 5 children, one with special needs, and the days with them seem to be going by so quickly. I think this year, I am going to spend some time just enjoying them – not being so rushed around, but really sitting back and having a wonderful time with my family!! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you :0)

  43. We have a very quiet and blessed day. Both my husband’s parents and mine have passed away. My brother lives too far and my husband’s sister’s family like to have Thanksgiving by themselves. So we have a nice turkey and eat exactly what we want. This one will be like that too.

    1. Liz, there is something wonderful about doing it “exactly how you want” … and it won’t be long before your kids are joining you with their own children. It will always be blessed but it won’t always be quiet! 🙂

  44. The day before Thanksgiving, my grandmother walks my mom, my aunts, and myself through making her famous Thanksgiving Dressing. We have snacks, listen to music, tell stories, and have so much fun while we are making it.

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