7 Creative Thanksgiving Traditions

Memorable ideas to bring to your Thanksgiving celebration.

A family is seated around the table for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

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Thanksgiving is about sharing connections and gratitude with those we love. Many people look forward to this occasion each year, associating this time with fun, family, and food. Mostly food!

Over the years and across generations, families have developed signature Thanksgiving traditions. Here are seven creative DIY ideas that could transform your next gathering. Maybe some of these will be requested as an encore at your table for years to come!

Play Music

The delicious food and harvest decor are primary, yet festive music will complete the ambiance. Meaningful, uplifting, and upbeat, music transforms. You can make your own family sing-along, suggested Good Housekeeping, or find an appealing Thanksgiving music mix on YouTube.

Be it fun kid’s songs, gospel music, or ballads that express gratitude, a “turkey day playlist,” such as this from Good Housekeeping, will add true spirit to your holiday gathering.

A couple cooks while they dance to music.

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Try a New Cuisine

Your Thanksgiving menu need not be standard every year. Your guests may appreciate a change, according to travel.earth, 68 percent of Americans actually dislike canned cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and even turkey. They may eat this in honor of Thanksgiving, but how adding a cultural twist that many more will relish?

This Thanksgiving, travel.earth suggests serving maple-glazed rutabaga from Finland, beans and rice from Cuba, and Tandoori chicken from India. An exotic menu will get your guests talking! Each year, offer other international dishes.

A colorful spread of Indian food for Thanksgiving.

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Have a Pie Baking Competition

The cool nights and abundant autumnal fruit harvest combine to make this pie season. Ask guests to choose a pie recipe they love and bring it, recommends Good Housekeeping. Aside from traditional pumpkin pie, there is apple pie, pecan pie, chocolate pie, and much more. Arrange them on the buffet and try each one! 

A selection of autumnal homemade pies, perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

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Create a Thankful Tablecloth

This idea from The Savvy Sparrow is sure to turn into an annual tradition. Purchase a light-colored fabric tablecloth to set on your table. After dinner, pass around indelible fabric pens and ask guests to write their name, date, and something they are thankful for that year.

Come next Thanksgiving, spread out the tablecloth and reminisce, then add more gratitude!

Go Bowling

This idea from White Arrows takes a family visit to the bowling alley (the night before or the day after the holiday) to the next level. It will require a bit of advance planning, but it is a score!

First, buy a gleaming trophy for the winner. Make it special as it will be awarded to a winner each year (you will want to repeat this activity every Thanksgiving!) Then, design and print family bowling shirts or buy vintage shirts.

Print fun player names on each shirt for each participant and call each other by these names while they are playing the game. From toddlers to grandparents, everyone will be able to participate and enjoy their fun time together at the bowling alley.

A young girl enjoys a game at the bowling alley.

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Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade With Family

Avoid the cold weather and crowds by enjoying the televised spectacle on your cozy couch. Now that you have a plate of pie on your lap, gather the family on Thanksgiving Day to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. 

Serve a special Thanksgiving breakfast, recommended White Arrows. You can make a beautiful spread that includes pumpkin spiced granola, cranberry bread, and, of course, lots of that leftover pie.

A family watches TV together.

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Watch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

This classic, nostalgic movie will delight all ages. But don’t stop there; make it a memorable family event by serving up Charlie’s favorite menu while you watch. This show deserves snacks that include popcorn, jelly beans, pretzels, and toast.

Watching a movie while enjoying popcorn.

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