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THE BEST Thanksgiving Traditions for 2024

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions to Warm Up Your Holiday will give you ideas on celebrating the blessings in your life. This special occasion beckons families and friends to gather around a table laden with delicious food and heartfelt conversations.

If you’re looking for more ideas on making your Thanksgiving holiday one to remember, The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Brine and 21 Gratitude Quotes You’ll Love will help you on your path.

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Rustic Table with Pumpkins and Dried Flowers
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of creative Thanksgiving traditions that will infuse your holiday with charm and make cherished memories.

From heartfelt rituals to imaginative activities, these ideas will help you create a Thanksgiving celebration that’s as warm and inviting as the crackling fire in your cozy living room.

What are some excellent Thanksgiving traditions? The answer is any tradition that brings your family and friends closer together.  

Photo of The Best Thanksgiving Traditions for Families and Friends - Pumpkin with Candle, Fall Leaves, Blanket, and Fairy Lights
American Thanksgiving Traditions for Families and Friends

Finding meaningful ways to spend time together is what Thanksgiving is all about. Traditions add richness to the holidays.

Whether you have a small family Thanksgiving or a large gathering – these ideas will help give you memorable Thanksgiving stories to pass down through the generations.  

Even if you celebrate your Thanksgiving with no family – only friends – why not add traditions that will deepen your friendships?

Thanksgiving day is the fourth Thursday in the month of November. It starts the beginning of the holiday season.

“Thanksgiving is a joyous invitation to shower the world with love and gratitude.”

Amy Leigh Mercer
Photo of Creative Thanksgiving Traditions - Thanksgiving Place Setting with Pumpkins
Thanksgiving Dinner Traditions

Creating a Cozy Life Group

Since you found this article on creative Thanksgiving traditions in America, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 139,000 like-minded souls.

It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Here are the Thanksgiving Traditions to Warm Up Your Holiday

1. Family Walk

Photo of the Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Family Walk with Dog in the Woods with Fallen Leaves
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions to Start – Family Walk

One favorite Thanksgiving family tradition is to take a family morning walk in the woods on Thanksgiving morning. You can use this time to collect greenery to decorate your home and to spend quality time with your loved ones.  

The kids look for natural elements like pinecones, holly, acorns, and leaves to add special touches to the holiday decor.  

One family I know uses the greenery they retrieve on the walk for a wreath-making party the day after Thanksgiving.  

If you’re looking for fun ways to celebrate Thanksgiving, this idea you’ll love. Enjoying the fresh air, spending time in nature, and using natural elements to spark your family’s creativity will all be accomplished with one activity.  

2. Pumpkin Recipe

Photo of Family Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Pumpkin Recipes - Pumpkin Risotto
Family Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Pumpkin Recipes

Every Thanksgiving, challenge yourself to find a new pumpkin recipe to serve your guests. Enjoying pumpkin is one of the best old Thanksgiving traditions.  

There are so many different ideas to choose from; pumpkin dip, pumpkin scones, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin bread, pumpkin granola, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bars, pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin cookies are just some of the recipes you can try.  

You could also have a fun recipe contest between family members. Taste-testing pumpkin dishes is the perfect Thanksgiving entertainment everyone will love.  

Take pictures of all the submissions and award the winner a “Pumpkin King or Queen” trophy for the year.  

3. Thanksgiving Tree

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Thanksgiving Tree - Photo of Dictionary description of the word "grateful"
What are some Thanksgiving Traditions? – Thanksgiving Tree

You can put up your Christmas tree early and decorate it with Thanksgiving decor instead of Christmas items.  

Small turkeys, Indian corn attached to the branches, pumpkin ornaments, and tiny scarecrows are just some of the ideas you can use to decorate your tree.  

Before Thanksgiving dinner, have pre-cut leaves from fall-colored construction paper made and have everyone at the table write down what they are thankful for and then hang them on the thankful tree.  

4. Memory Quilts

Fun Family Thanksgiving Traditions to Try - Memory Quilt
Fun Family Thanksgiving Traditions to Try – Memory Quilt

Thanksgiving means family, so making family memory quilts to keep you warm while watching fall-themed movies with some caramel popcorn.  

Memory quilts are created with old clothing of your loved ones and made into a patchwork design. Even if family members have passed on, you can use a clothing item of theirs to keep the memory of them close to your heart.  

5. Heirloom Recipes

Simple Thanksgiving Traditions - Heirloom Recipes - Hands in Dough
Things to do during Thanksgiving – Heirloom Recipes

There’s something genuinely magical about using heirloom recipes to craft a Thanksgiving dinner that bridges generations and weaves a tapestry of cherished memories.

As we gather around the dinner table, these culinary treasures, passed down through the years, bring a sense of connection to the traditions that have shaped your family’s culinary heritage.

The scent of Grandma’s pumpkin pie, the secret ingredient in Aunt Bev’s stuffing, or the perfect butter herb roasted turkey recipe all serve as delicious links to the past.

As we savor each bite, we honor the love and care that went into perfecting these heirloom dishes. Honoring our past makes Thanksgiving not just a meal, but a heartwarming tribute to the generations that came before us.

Start New Thanksgiving Traditions Everyone Will Love

6. Annual Thanksgiving Flag-Football Game

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Flag-Football Game - Football on Green
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions – Flag Football Game

Football games and Thanksgiving go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. It has become a cherished tradition that perfectly complements the holiday’s spirit of togetherness.

Whether it’s a friendly game in the backyard or an organized flag football match at the local park, the friendly rivalry adds a layer of excitement and bonding to our Thanksgiving traditions.

As you gather together, the thrill of the game keeps everyone engaged and active before the Thanksgiving meal.

Fun ideas are coming up with team names and making up silly touch-down dances every time your side scores. This tradition is the perfect way to burn off calories before the upcoming big meal.

7. Family Tree

The Best Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Vintage Photographs and Camera
The Best Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Family Photos

Your family is what gives you roots and wings. Honor those who are no longer with you with photos of your loved ones on the Thanksgiving table.  

Give thanks for each person’s wisdom and include fun stories you experienced with your relatives. Your kids will learn how lucky they were to be part of a rich heritage.  

8. Thanksgiving Puzzle

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions for Families - Thanksgiving Day Puzzle
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions for Families – Thanksgiving Day Puzzle

One cherished Thanksgiving tradition for families is to gather around the dining table after a hearty meal to tackle a jigsaw puzzle together.

Every year, you will eagerly anticipate this special moment when you finish your family feast and bring out the puzzle box. Each family member, young and old, brings their unique perspective and skills to the table.

Piecing a puzzle together is a time of laughter, camaraderie, and teamwork. This annual ritual adds an extra layer of togetherness to your Thanksgiving celebration.

9. Giving Back

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Charity - Hands Holding a Heart
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions – Charity – Volunteer at Soup Kitchens

Let Thanksgiving be when you decide as a family how you will give back to the world for your blessings.  

You can change the charity you would like to give to and plan how you will donate your time and/or money throughout the year.

During the holidays, a perfect way to help others is to volunteer at your local soup kitchen that feed homeless shelters. It’s a wonderful way to give back to your community.

Things to do Thanksgiving Day

10. Sentimental Touches  

Timeless Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Embroidered Tablecloth - Thread and thimble
Timeless Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Embroidered Tablecloth

Embarking on the tradition of signing the same tablecloth every Thanksgiving and later having someone embroider the signatures is a heartwarming way to etch the passage of time into a tangible keepsake of time spent together.

Over the years, the tablecloth transforms into a tapestry of memories adorned with the names of loved ones who sat around the table each year.

The cherished tradition serves as a living history, preserving the legacy of Thanksgivings for generations to come, making each meal a unique chapter in your family’s story.

11. Natural Art

Family Thanksgiving Traditions - Natural Artwork - Art Using Leaves
Family Thanksgiving Traditions – Natural Artwork

During the Thanksgiving holiday, crafting art from natural elements becomes a beautiful expression of gratitude and creativity. The whole family can do art and have fun at the same time.

Armed with the treasures you find in nature, you can create whimsical sculptures, leaf collages, drawings, and even paint leaves. It’s a fun way to harness your creativity.

12. Thankful Tag

Simple Thanksgiving Traditions for Families - Thankful Tag - Children Playing Outdoors in the Fall Thankful Tag
Simple Thanksgiving Traditions for Families – Thankful Tag

I found the idea for Thankful Tag in a Facebook group. A creative parent has her kids play Thankful Tag during the holiday season. It’s a perfect opportunity to help kids learn to be appreciative of all the good in their lives.

When the child that is “it” tags someone, the child was tagged has to say what they are thankful for, and that person becomes the “it” person. (Stephanie, if you’re reading this – it’s a beautiful idea!)

13. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

Easy Thanksgiving Ideas - Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt - Basket of Gourds and Pumpkins
Easy Thanksgiving Ideas – Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

The Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect time to organize a scavenger hunt with Thanksgiving-themed clues and riddles.

One clue can lead you to the backyard, where you dig through a pile of leaves and search for a hidden message. Your guests can follow a trail of turkey-shaped footprints that brings you to the family recipe box, where another clue is nestled inside.

As you solve each puzzle, you’re grateful for the cherished Thanksgiving traditions and memories you create together.

14. Pie-Making Contest

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Pie-Making Contest - Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Sticks
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions – Pie-Making Contest

If you want to introduce a new fun tradition into your holiday festivities – how about having an annual Thanksgiving pie-making contest? It will become a source of excitement and friendly competition that will bring out the inner pastry chef in each family member or friend.

A panel of judges; would taste and evaluate the pies. You can add unique categories like “best crust” or “most creative filling” to the fun.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving

15. Thanksgiving Costume Party

The Best Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Thanksgiving Costume Party - Child with Turkey Hat
The Best Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Thanksgiving Costume Party

A unique twist to your holiday celebration would be to turn your celebration into a costume party.

Encourage everyone to dress up as their favorite historical figure, something they’re thankful for, or something representing the Thanksgiving holiday. From turkey outfits to autumnal leaf fairies, creativity knows no bounds.

16. Thanksgiving Trivia

Simple Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Thanksgiving Trivia
Simple Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Thanksgiving Trivia

Spice up your Thanksgiving gathering with some friendly competition by hosting a trivia game. As you gather around the table filled with delicious dishes, divide the guests into teams and ask questions about Thanksgiving history, traditions, and fun facts.

The trivia game not only adds an element of fun and excitement to your Thanksgiving celebration but also provides an opportunity to learn more about the history and significance of this cherished holiday.

17. Write Letters to God 

The Best Thanksgiving Traditions - Writing Letters to God
The Best Thanksgiving Traditions – Writing Letters to God

Every year, have everyone in the family write a letter to God giving thanks for all the gifts that happened in their life that year.  

You can have a special wooden box in which you keep all the letters and randomly read previous Thanksgiving tradition letters during your meal.  

18. Thanksgiving Movie Marathon

Family Thanksgiving Traditions - Thanksgiving Movie Marathon - Cinema Tickets and Popcorn
Family Thanksgiving Traditions – Thanksgiving Movie Marathon

One favorite family tradition is to have an annual Thanksgiving movie marathon. As you gather around the living room, fill the day with heartwarming classics and feel-good films that capture the spirit of gratitude and togetherness.

From heartwarming dramas to hilarious comedies, you can create a movie marathon that spans generations and tastes.

Snuggle up with blankets, flavored popcorn, and hot apple cider, and let the movies transport you to worlds where love, laughter, and the importance of family take center stage.

19. Storytelling Bonfire

Fun Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas - Bonfire Storytelling
Fun Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas – Storytelling Bonfire

This Thanksgiving, initiate a new tradition that will add a warm glow to your holiday gathering. Make a bonfire in your backyard to gather and share stories about your family history.

As dusk settles in, gather around the crackling flames with mugs of hot cocoa in your hands and talk about your favorite family memories. It’s a touching experience that will deepen your appreciation for your family’s journey and strengthen your sense of unity.

20. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Good Thanksgiving Day Traditions - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Good Thanksgiving Day Traditions – Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

A great way to spend time with your family on Thanksgiving is to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that takes place in New York City. It has become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition for many families across the United States.

It’s a time when generations come together to marvel at elaborate floats and dazzling performances that mark the start of the holiday season. It’s a joyful prelude to a day of gratitude, feasting, and togetherness.

21. Tournament of Board Games

Thanksgiving Day Traditions - Tournament of Board Games - Strategy Board Game
Thanksgiving Day Traditions – Tournament of Board Games

Once you experience the fun of having a Thanksgiving board game tournament on Thanksgiving, it will become a beloved holiday tradition.

The games provide a great opportunity for everyone to bond and share memorable moments. Whether it’s the thrill of finding new words to play in Scrabble or becoming a real estate tycoon in Monopoly, a Thanksgiving board game tournament adds an extra layer of excitement.

Thanksgiving Meal Recipe Ideas for Your Turkey Day Celebration

We’ve reached the end of the best Thanksgiving traditions to warm up your holiday family gatherings. I hope you enjoyed it!

I would love to hear of your favorite Thanksgiving activities in the comments below. Let me know if you tried any of these ideas and made it one of your own traditions.

Be sure to join the Creating a Cozy Life group. You’re not going to believe how amazing it is!

I created a pin below for Thanksgiving traditions to add to your holiday Pinterest board so you can refer back to this article again. I hope you found ideas on what to do for Thanksgiving.

You can follow me here on PINTEREST. If you try any of these ideas for What do you do on Thanksgiving? and take a photo, be sure to tag me here on INSTAGRAM.

Wishing you and your family a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanks for dropping by. I’m so happy you found us!

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Our family tradition is to play pipe chimes with the whole family. Young and old can all play Christmas songs together with no musical talent. Lots of fun memories and laughs.


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I love that idea! Thanks for sharing. Kelly

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