20 New Thanksgiving Traditions to Start in Your New Home (for Single People, Small, and Large Families)
As we have written about time and time again, one of the most exciting parts about owning a home is experiencing the holiday season in it. The winter holiday season is an amazing time to embrace family and friends, unwind, and make memories that last a lifetime. From Thanksgiving and Christmas to Hanukkah, New Years, and more, there are countless opportunities to live in the moment and share positive experiences with your loved ones during the winter months.
While you have likely already made many memories during the holiday season, celebrating the holidays in your new home for the first time presents a unique opportunity to start new traditions that can recur for years to come. Whether you are a single person, a couple, a family with children, or share any other living arrangement, developing annual traditions is one of the best ways to grow roots in your home. While many people already celebrate a slew of Christmas traditions, Thanksgiving is a holiday that tends to be much less involved. This blog post will provide twenty traditions that you may consider adding into your annual Thanksgiving festivities, whether you are celebrating in your own home or in someone else’s, and alone or with family.
Five Thanksgiving Traditions for Large Families or Groups
1. Play a game of football (a turkey bowl!)
Football is often regarded as the most American sport that there is, and it has been a part of families’ Thanksgiving celebrations for a very long time. While there are live NFL games on TV on Thanksgiving, a great tradition for large families is to get outside and play a real game of two hand touch! While families of all sizes could go outside to throw a football around, large families have the unique opportunity to really get a nice game going. If extended family is present, you can even form annual rivalries that take shape on the family turkey bowl field!
2. Organize a family board game tournament
While some board games are limited to just a few participants, some of the best games are made for much larger groups. If you are lucky enough to have a large number of family members present at Thanksgiving each year, you have the unique opportunity to create an annual board game tournament! You can divide attendees into teams, and each team can compete for an overall winner honor, much like how the Olympics work. If dividing into teams like this seems like too much work, you can always just choose stand-alone games that are designed for large groups, like charades.
3. Encourage non-perishable food donations for charity
While Thanksgiving is a time to indulge in delicious food and enjoy family members, it is important to remember that not everyone is in a position to celebrate Thanksgiving. Taking the time to collect canned goods to donate to a food bank is an easy and impactful tradition to implement, and its effect ripple even more greatly if you have a large family, as the more guests there are, the more donated food there is!
4. Have everyone give a Thanksgiving toast
If you have a large group present at Thanksgiving, one great tradition to begin is encouraging every family member to make their own Thanksgiving toast. Everyone has a different perspective and personality, and encouraging everyone to make a toast is a great way to understand how everyone’s year has been going. These toasts can be heartfelt, reflective, or even comical, but the idea of encouraging everyone to take a turn offering their Thanksgiving wishes is a great ice breaker that is easy to add into your yearly Thanksgiving celebrations.
5. Take a large family photo
If you have a large family, there is a good chance that you all do not see each other very often! When large families gather, a lot of truly special memories are made. The sad reality, however, is that large families typically have a tougher time getting together than smaller families, as there are so many schedules to work around. If you are able to gather a large amount of family members together at Thanksgiving, one special tradition to begin is taking a picture of the whole group every year and watching it grow as people get married and have children.
Ten Thanksgiving Traditions for Families of All Sizes
1. Take turns expressing what each person at the dinner table is grateful for
As the focal point of Thanksgiving is gratitude, it only makes sense that everyone goes around the table and expresses what they are thankful for. This is a great opportunity to reflect on the previous year and all of its blessings, and encouraging everyone to speak is a great way to understand how everyone in your family is doing. Everyone offers their own perspective, and hearing what is on everyone’s mind is often really eye-opening. Children, especially, tend to have some really unique thoughts!
2. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the most iconic celebrations of Thanksgiving that there is, and watching the giant floats pass through New York City is a great tradition to take up as a family each year. While attending the parade in person isn’t possible for the vast majority of people, tuning into the parade on the TV is an easy tradition to develop as a family each year. At the end of the parade, as everyone what their favorite float was!
3. Purchase a Christmas tree
Around the United States, Thanksgiving is seen as the de facto switch off between fall and winter. While Christmas celebrations have been moving earlier and earlier each year, Thanksgiving is typically the time when it is seen as acceptable to start decorating for Christmas each year. One great Thanksgiving tradition to start is going to the Christmas tree farm every year on the day after Thanksgiving! Finding the perfect tree as a family is a special experience, and turning it into a tradition each year helps to lock the practice into a specific time each year.
4. Make a wish and split the wishbone
The wishbone is a bone on the turkey that is often snapped in half for good luck. Two lucky people get to grab one end of the wishbone and pull it apart. Whichever person is left with the bigger end of the bone is supposed to have their wish come true in the coming year. While this is a silly tradition, it is a cute one that is especially fun if there are children at Thanksgiving in your home. Each turkey only has one wishbone, so you will need to choose the participants wisely!
5. Watch a Thanksgiving Day football game
Thanksgiving and football have gone hand in hand for a long time, and that evidenced by the fact that there is an NFL tripleheader every year on this day! Sitting down and tuning into one of the games, even if your family doesn’t particularly enjoy football, is a great way to bond over a uniquely American game. The nice part about the tripleheader is that regardless of when you will be eating dinner, there will likely be a game beforehand or afterwards!
6. Watch a holiday special (or any other movie you love)
If football isn’t your family’s thing, you can consider sitting down and watching a movie together. This could be a Thanksgiving special, or it could just be a movie that you and your family really like and enjoy. It can also be the same movie every year, or a different movie each year! Obviously as it is Thanksgiving in your home, you get to make the rules. Carving out the time to sit down as a family and enjoy a movie in each other’s company is a great tradition to start that can recur for years to come.
7. Go for a walk or hike as a family
On Thanksgiving, most people eat a lot of food. While you could lay down and take a nap, one way to encourage healthy habits as a family is to go for a long walk or a hike every year after dinner! This is both great for your digestive system and a fun way to bond with loved ones after enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.
8. Cook the meal together
While many households either assign most of the cooking to one individual or opt for a potluck, an alternative option that is fun for the whole family is cooking the meal together! Instead of having everyone bring their favorite dish, you may consider having people come earlier in the morning and cook their dish alongside you in your kitchen! This helps to extend the Thanksgiving Day bonding, and can help you to form even deeper connections with extended family that may come in from out of town.
9. Encourage children to set the table
Encouraging children to set the table is great for their development, and it can be a fun way to teach them about table manners. Nowadays, family dinners are a lot less common than they used to be, and children often don’t get the opportunity to set a full table like at Thanksgiving. This is a great opportunity to test their knowledge of where the forks, spoons, knives, napkins and plates go in a more formal setting.
10. Start your day off with dessert
While some items on this list are healthy traditions to start, this one is definitely a bit more indulgent. One popular Thanksgiving tradition that you could start in your home is starting the day off with dessert for breakfast. There will likely be plenty of pies and cakes sitting around your kitchen for dinnertime, and choosing one of those pies to cut into early as a family is a tradition that is starting to get more popular!
Five Thanksgiving Traditions for Single People
1. Run a turkey trot
“Turkey trot” is the nickname for an organized outdoor walk or running race that occurs every year on or around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the most popular times to enroll in a 5k or 10k race, and this is an activity that anyone can sign up for whether they have relatives to join them or not. While running isn’t for everyone, most turkey trots also offer a one-mile walking option that is just designed to get you out and about breathing fresh air on Thanksgiving morning. As you are probably going to eat a lot of food later in the day, it is never a bad idea to get your blood flowing and burn a few calories on Thanksgiving morning!
2. Host a Friendsgiving
Just because you don’t have family around doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving! Friendsgiving celebrations are becoming increasingly popular. A Friendsgiving celebration is exactly what it sounds like: a Thanksgiving celebration particularly with friends instead of family. While family holidays are certainly special in their own way, the idea of taking the time to celebrate a holiday with friends is an exciting prospect, too. Friendsgiving celebrations are a great opportunity for single people to partake in the Thanksgiving season, but you don’t need to be single to host a Friendsgiving! Even if you have plans on Thanksgiving Day, you may decide to plan a Friendsgiving celebration for some time later in the weekend.
3. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
If you have no plans on Thanksgiving Day (or even if you do), one of the best ways to celebrate is by taking the time to volunteer in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. As a single person, you likely realize how it can feel to be alone on a holiday. Taking the time to go make connections with people who could use some love is a great way to get out and make a difference on Thanksgiving, and turning this into an annual tradition is a great way to invest yourself in a greater purpose each year. While the time may appear like an inconvenience to you at first, most people who take the time to volunteer on Thanksgiving are very satisfied with their decision.
4. Go Black Friday shopping
Black Friday is the infamous day after Thanksgiving that has slowly crept earlier and earlier each year. Nowadays, Black Friday often lasts for the full week leading into Thanksgiving! Still, going Black Friday shopping is both fun and financially wise, as many of the things you may have been eyeing for a while (for yourself or for others) are likely being sold at ridiculously low prices. While some people choose to camp out overnight in front of their favorite stores, you are usually fine just going in the morning when you wake up. Going Black Friday shopping is a fun tradition that can recur every year, and you can certainly do it alone!
5. Make a meal just for yourself
Thanksgiving with family is wonderful. Thanksgiving spent with friends is fantastic, too. However, there is something to be said about celebrating on your own, too! While big celebrations tend to be the norm around Thanksgiving, there is no shame in celebrating on your own and treating yourself to a nice meal. Whether your try out new recipes or make some of your favorites, taking the time to prepare a meal all for yourself is both an empowering and rewarding experience, and can be a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving if you aren’t able to be with friends or family.
Thank you for reading our post with recommendations for Thanksgiving traditions to start in your new home. Celebrating the holidays in your own home is a very special feeling, and it is a great idea to make the most of the time you have! While this list of ideas is not at all exhaustive, we hope it helps to get your gears turning as you think about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Beginning recurring traditions is a way to encourage your family and loved ones to live in the moment and presently enjoy each other’s company. Plus, it gives everyone something to look forward to every year!
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