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10 New Traditions to Make Your Thanksgiving Extra Special

Posted by Stephanie Hilliard on Nov 23rd 2021

10 New Traditions to Make Your Thanksgiving Extra Special

Turkey, parade, family time, football… you know the drill! Thanksgiving is likely one of the holidays where your traditions have stayed the same year after year. And there’s nothing wrong with tradition, but maybe you want to add some new ones into the mix for this year’s holiday get-together.  

If you’re looking for ways to shake up your family’s Thanksgiving traditions, keep reading for some fun ideas! 

Create a Tablescape 

Make your dinner table look as beautiful as the food being served with a  tablescape! This can be as simple as including a nice table runner with strategically placed pumpkins and gourds or can be as elaborate as having each guests’ name on a place card with their designated seat. Keep your table all about the design by serving dinner buffet style in the kitchen, prevent overcrowding with the big platter of turkey or basket of rolls. Tablescaping can be a simple way to interject your personal style into a traditional Thanksgiving meal.  

Make a Charcuterie Board 

Put those charcuterie board-making skills you learned in quarantine to good use with a fun design that’s unique and tasty! Try your hand at using different meats and cheese to create a turkey, cornucopia, or grid pattern that your guests will love. It’s not just food anymore, meat and cheese plates will never be the same with all the quirky ways to arrange them out there. 

Keep the Flavor, Change the Delivery 

It’s super easy to rely on the Thanksgiving staples like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. But have you noticed from Thanksgiving past that you’ve had excessive leftovers of one of these items? Try adding a new dish to the table that uses the same flavor of these traditional foods, but turn it into something people want to eat! Do you always have a lot of cranberry sauce leftover, stuck in the cylinder shape from where it came from? Try making a chutney or relish out of it instead, spicing it up but still pairing perfectly with the turkey. You don’t want to get rid of these flavors all together, but there are plenty of traditional food items that could use some improvement! 

Have a Happy Hour 

Although Thanksgiving is typically the holiday the most centered around food, why not host a cocktail hour before or after the big meal? Have guests bring their favorite wine/drink or appetizer to share. This can also be a helpful time buffer if your guests have more than one meal to attend. Why not start or end your Thanksgiving celebration with some extra food/drinks that you didn’t have to worry about making? 

Give the Kids Something to Do 

It can be tricky to carve a turkey with kids underfoot wanting your attention, so why not preoccupy them and let them have some fun at the same time? Keep it simple like coloring pages or drawing hand turkey, anything that doesn’t require too much supervision. Put on  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving while they work and let them have a little space while the adults get the big meal ready and visit!  

Give Thanks in a New Way 

Traditionally, many families go around the table on Thanksgiving and list what they’re thankful for. There’s nothing wrong with this tradition, but what if you could make it a keepsake as well? Have a designated Thanksgiving tablecloth that each person can write what they’re thankful for that year and keep it going throughout the years, filling the cloth with everyone’s notes of gratitude. You could also do this with DIY ornaments (you can find inexpensive wood ones or plastic balls that can be filled with paper at your local craft store) and fill a tree each year, just for the Thanksgiving holiday! Putting this gratitude on paper can mean even more when you can pull it out each year and add to it.  

Put the Desserts to the Test 

Have guests with a competitive streak? Invite everyone to bring a dessert and compete for the best one! Just provide little cups for voting, pieces of paper, and writing utensils to make it official. If it’s a hit, the great Thanksgiving dessert-off may become a new tradition in your family. This is also a great way to alleviate some of the hosting stress by having them cover dessert! 

Break Out the Games 

After everyone has napped off their meal, it’s the perfect time to break out some board or card games. While it may be tempting to have people go off and do their own thing (which is fine as well), the games are a good way to communicate and spend time together without getting too deep. You know the crowd you’ve invited, so just be sure your games cater to those age ranges. These games can keep the memory-making and fun going at your celebration! 

Share the Family Recipes 

In some families, everyone has their specialty, so why not share the love of food with the recipes? If you are asking people to bring food, have them also bring the recipe card to share. This makes for easy screenshotting or you can compile them in a post-Thanksgiving email blast to share with everyone who attended. Unless grandma is keeping the gravy recipe under lock and key, sharing these recipes is a great way to remember each other through food. If you want to make these even more preservable, you can create your own DIY Thanksgiving cookbook by using SnapFish or a similar service to print and bind the recipes in a little book, making a great gift in the process! 

Provide Leftover Containers 

This may be less of a tradition and more of a suggestion, but with the space it will create in your fridge after Thanksgiving, you’ll want to do it every year! Don’t let anyone leave your home without leftovers in their hand, and by providing the containers for them that aren’t anyone’s precious Tupperware, you can actually get people to take them. Head to your local dollar store to find inexpensive options of all sizes, including even festive ones that seem more expensive than they really are. By providing the leftover containers, you can start your assembly line of preparing take-home meals as soon as dinner is over and not overstuff your fridge with the remnants that may go to waste. 

What are some other unique traditions can you add to this list? Let us know below, we’d love to hear them!