Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays in the United States. People across the country gather together to share a meal and reflect on all the things they’re grateful for. But there’s much more to do during this beautiful time of giving thanks than just eating. Good traditions are the bedrock of bonding. So we’ve put together some traditions that can make your Thanksgiving celebration memorable on Thursday, Nov. 24.
1. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s parade is one of the most famous holiday traditions in the U.S. In New York City, thousands of people line the streets of Manhattan to watch performances from pop stars, marching bands, Broadway shows and more. This particular parade is known for its giant inflatable balloons that float between the skyscrapers, high above the onlookers.
2. Break out the family photos
Pull out that box of old family photos as a nostalgic touch on the table and use it to inspire “remember when” banter. After the meal wraps up, watch old family movies or flip through photo albums for a few good laughs and maybe even a few tears.
3. Spice up those to-go plates
Yes, you’ve been using paper plates and aluminum foil for those taking food to go. Paper plates and plain Tupperware is so last year. Send guests home with a few leftovers in decorated containers (you can get a set for as little as $6) or wrap them up beautifully in to-go-style Mason jars.
We’re used to tailgating at homecoming and football games, but what a way to greet your out-of-town guests (or just another way to celebrate the season). Host a casual, tailgate-style party. Bake some treats and a big batch of warm apple cider to give guests upon their arrival. Talk about a warm welcome and something everyone will look forward to year after year!
5. Count your blessings
Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect on the year and your blessings alongside family and friends. Whether it’s during the meal or while relaxing later in the day, make it a tradition to go around the table and have everyone say what they are most thankful for in 2022. It’s wonderful to hear everyone talk about their favorite moments and experiences from the previous year.
6. Get ready to rumble!
Whether you’re watching, attending, or playing, football is a big part of many families’ Turkey Day itinerary. Burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories outside. Some families split into teams and play a game of football.
7. Celebrate “Friendsgiving”
Because most people celebrate Thanksgiving with their families, dedicating time to give thanks with friends has become equally important. Friends gathering together, or “Friendsgiving,” is a newer tradition. Whether on Thanksgiving Day or another time during the holidays, celebrate your nearest and dearest friends by hosting a get-together.
8. Game night
Game night is an excellent way to keep your family together after the meal. Whether it’s cards, board games or dominoes, kids and adults can get in on the action. Keep a list of winners to revisit year after year. Even present some kind of trophy so that it can defended every year.
9. Let’s create
Let your kids craft personal gratitude bracelets — or have the whole family join in. They’ll love wearing their creations all year round. Or ask everyone to write what they are thankful for on a DIY butcher-paper tablecloth. Even those who think it’s hokey might find themselves engrossed in creating.
10. Give back
In the spirit of giving thanks and helping others, many communities across the U.S. hold annual food drives that collect non-perishable packaged and canned foods for those in need. These organizations also host Thanksgiving dinners so that everyone has a place to enjoy a warm meal.
Readers share their traditions
Get inspired by these Thanksgiving traditions from our readers.
“My family will honor someone with a video presentation of their life and a monetary blessing. Giving them their flowers while they are alive. It’s a surprise to the person we are honoring so the joke is if you don’t know who we are honoring, it’s you!” – Lora Mayes
“Turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day and marathon on New Year’s Day.” – Jae Andy Be
“It’s the long walk after the meal. Most just get out and stroll the neighborhood laughing and reflecting; seeing who’s putting up Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving Day. Stopping and watching kids/families play football in the yard or park. Just a good time.” – Jacquie Hood Martin
“Fighting over the turkey legs on Thanksgiving. After the prayer ends, it’s every man for themselves.” – L. Lovely Scott
“Ever since losing both my husband and 10-year-old daughter in a car accident, I had to create new traditions for me and my youngest. The old traditions of family gatherings at each other’s home hurt my heart too much to gather and see them missing in attendance. So we travel during the holidays and enjoy lovely vacations wherever we decide to visit. Some years we have been to tropical islands other years we chose the snow. Each year we’ve created new traditions and memories away from home that cures the longing in our hearts for the other half of our family. I highly recommend that the bereaved be intentional in planning for new traditions during the holidays that can work for them. Insisting on doing things the same way can hurt our fragile hearts while watching others enjoy their intact families!” – Bernice Dickey
“There are usually nine-12 family members at my house for Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner we exchange names for our Secret Santa gift exchange. Then on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day we squeeze into my youngest daughter’s apartment.” – Venus Mason Thues
“My parents mandated that EVERYONE be home for Thanksgiving. We took the kids to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and then helped with getting the table ready and diving into the meal.’ – Iris Kebbeh I
“We always have shrimp. Right next to the turkey. And I usually eat it all.” – Jason Frost