Easy and fun Thanksgiving traditions you can start with your family this year!

You know what my favorite Thanksgiving tradition is? Making whipped peas. No one eats them but me, but every year when the bowl of bright green mashed peas gets set on the table, everyone makes exaggerated grimaces and the kids laugh and laugh. Mission accomplished.

The holidays are a great time to start cultivating new family traditions. Meaningful, philanthropic or just plain silly—kids love traditions and when you make it part of your annual routine, holidays become something more than a meal. They become a memory.

Check out this list of Thanksgiving traditions that are fun, easy and memorable.

Donate Together

This time of year, you can’t go two feet without seeing a collection box for food donations. Hit up the grocery store as a family for non-perishable items and create your own box of Thanksgiving supplies to donate to a local food pantry. The kids will have the opportunity to learn how the food is collected and distributed to people in your community. Watch their little chests well up with pride. Great job, family!

Thanksgiving Eve Meal

Since most people are busy with cooking for the next day, make Thanksgiving Eve dinner quick and easy. Carryout, Chinese or pizza? Or buy a bunch of frozen appetizers and make a meal out of it (this is actually my family’s Christmas Eve tradition; it was started as a joke, but we’re still doing it years later).

Step Away from the Couch

Many local communities have holiday themed races in and around Thanksgiving suitable for families and kids of all ages. To find a race near you, check out runningintheusa.com.

Create a Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece

This is one of my favorites that my daughter and I do together. We begin by ravaging the outdoor foliage for pretty leaves, acorns, branches and wild shrubbery and then find other household items (i.e. hurricane lamp, candle sticks or Thanksgiving crafts that the kids made in school) to create a decorative centerpiece.  This is a really fun activity for kids and allows them to flex their creative muscles while your guests will continue to praise its beauty in between bites of green bean casserole.

Thanksgiving Crafts with Staying Power

My friend’s parents still set the Thanksgiving table using the felt turkey napkin rings that she made in the 3rd grade. They were cute when she was a kid, and now they’re just plain hilarious. Pinterest some craft ideas for your children to make while you’re finishing up the Thanksgiving prep. It’ll both keep them out of the kitchen and be a conversation piece for years to come. For more ideas, check out our Thanksgiving Crafts article.

Examples of Gratitude

During Thanksgiving meals, many families go around the table and ask everyone to talk about what they are grateful for. Here’s another idea: In addition to reiterating the simple but great blessings of life (family, shelter, sustenance), ask each member to bring 2 to 3 items to the table for which they are thankful. For kids, it simply might be a favorite toy or sports trophy. For adults, it could be a family photo or a symbol of a personal achievement. Regardless of the item, they serve as a conversation piece and allow each family member to share what’s important to them. For more ideas, check out our Fun Family Ways to Say Thanks article.

Traditions don’t have to be super involved—simple creativity and fun is all you need. Happy Holidays!

What are your family’s Thanksgiving traditions? Share with us and inspire other families to adopt new and unique holiday fun!

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