Thanksgiving Traditions

Traditions are certainly high on my list of things I’d like to instill in my kids- especially around the holidays.  I’m looking for some new ones so I thought I’d ask the blog team what they do (boy did they have a bunch to share!) and of course, like anything else, I googled “Thanksgiving Traditions” as well.  Here are some of the traditions I heard/found:

From the Graco blog team:

Me – We have a plastic tablecloth that we pull out every year and write what we’re thankful for on it with Sharpie (different color every year) That way we can see how things have changed for us over time- how our perspective on what’s important shifts (though it often doesn’t- health and family are always a reoccurring theme!)

The ladies of the family always wake up early (c’mon, Grandma- get dressed already!) on Black Friday and don black sweaters and jeans and hit the mall. It’s terribly consumptive of us but we get some good deals and have a good time doing it!

Kristin- Eating a LOT and sleeping it off (though that’s going to be hard this year with a 5 month old!)

Melissa L. -Growing up, my mom always took the time to make homemade yeast rolls for Thanksgiving dinner. You wouldn’t find canned crescent rolls or bagged “heat and eat” rolls on our table…When my sisters and I got old enough, we helped knead the dough, watch it rise, knead it again-the whole process. I always thought the most fun part was “punching” down the dough before the second rise. Then mom would portion it out and we would form little knots and brush them with beaten egg before they went in the oven.

I know that time is such a premium these days and it seems so much easier to just pop open a can of the little dough boy’s 12-minute dinner rolls, but the together time this Thanksgiving tradition created for our family is something that just can’t be measured. I look forward to being able to share this tradition with Lovey (and the one on the way).

Melissa P. – We go to my side of the family for a thanksgiving lunch feast then head over to my in-laws for dessert. It can be a lot of running around but we like to be able to share the holiday with both sets of families. (and best of all, I don’t have to cook!)

Erin -
Making place card settings
Everyone gathering in the kitchen to watch Pop-Pop make the gravy (and explain each step/ingredient in detail)
Going around the room saying what we are Thankful for
Talking about what Christmas presents we want over dessert
Forgetting to put the cranberry sauce out EVERY YEAR
We used to secretly leave the video camera on through dinner and go back and watch it – it was always pretty funny

Anne Marie – One tradition we have is to watch the Macy’s Day parade. My mom always makes me laugh because she tries to dance like the Rockettes when she sees them on TV – it is actually pretty hysterical watching her try to kick her leg up in the air!

Jon – Would like to say we go out and shoot our own turkey, candy our yams or cran our berries, but we’ve got no real “traditions” per se. My Grandparents used to host Thanksgiving for the entire family back when I was a kid, then the torch was passed to my parents, and for the past number of years, the entire family gathers at my house for Thanksgiving dinner- Aunts, Uncles, Parents, Cousins, Cousins’ kids – we catch up, we cook, we eat, we loosen our belts and watch football – oh, and then we make plans to gather for Christmas at one of my cousins. Pretty basic stuff. The potato filling is awesome, though – an old family PA Dutch recipe – it has so much butter in it, this one meal can make your cholesterol level skyrocket – you can practically hear your arteries clogging with every mouthful.

Kim - We put a random number of kernels of corn on everybody’s plate. Before we start dinner everyone has to go around and say “all of the things they are thankful for”…the number is based on how many kernels of corn they have. (and of course, the Macy’s Day Parade)

Karen - Thanksgivings pre-first child, my husband and I would shuttle between our family’s homes. That made for a very long day even though everyone was local. For Thanksgiving 2004 we opted for a change. Baby was 4 weeks old and we decided to take over hosting the holiday. It seemed like it would be so much easier for our family to come to our place than for us to travel to them. Since taking over the hostess duties, my favorite tradition is to make a TON of side dishes. Everyone contributes their specialty and I make some extras. We usually end up having at least one side per person. That’s a lot of food when you join both sides of the family! I also have required all family members to bring their own storage containers for leftovers (no way are they taking my Rubbermaid Premiere containers home). By bringing their own containers, everyone gets to take home a sampling of everything from turkey to dessert. It decreases food waste and my husband and I are not stuck trying to store all the leftover food or eating turkey for weeks.

Here are some traditions I found poking around online:

the [ex] Expatriate’s Kitchen – Having an “elder” say a pre-dinner prayer/grace. It’s usually insightful into their life experiences and can be quite entertaining to boot!

Design Mom – Gabrielle talks about her tradition of reading “The Ox Cart Man” (which happens to be a favorite children’s book of mine) because it reminds her how plentiful her own life is. She also points out some great traditions her friends have started which are worth checking out…

CityMama - Here we get some insights on a traditional Thanksgiving menu which includes a much-anticipated trip to the Farmer’s Market for the freshest ingredients

Janne’s JabberWocky – Looks like Janne does the Tablecloth tradition as we do but she adds handprints which is a really cute idea to see how the kids have grown. She also talks about a Thankful tree which is a cute idea as well.

Todd Hoskins (via Twitter) Macy’s parade and Cinnamon rolls

Got some that are unique to your family? Share them with us!

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9 Responses to “Thanksgiving Traditions”

  1. Karen Hartzell November 24, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    OK, I am totally stealing the tablecloth idea. I love it! Now to find a good Sharpie color to start the tradition. :-)

  2. Marsha November 25, 2008 at 9:32 am #

    When I was growing up we always took a full meal to neighbor’s who had no family but wouldn’t come to our home for dinner. We would load in all on trays – my Dad would drive while my sister and brother and I sat holding the food – when we arrived home (1/4 miles away) – our meal was on the table. These neighbors got dressed up, set a beautiful table and always had a box of chocolates for my mom.

  3. Melissa November 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm #


    Sounds like you have a recipe to post!! Looking forward to trying it out…

  4. casual friday everyday December 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm #

    Lyndsee, we do something simular but ours is in a book. I can look back to 1995 when we started it. It’s amazing to see what I was thankful for as a teen, then early 20′s and a new Mom.

    We’ve (me, hubbs and our kids) have continued this in that very book and one day our grandkids will be able to look through this book and read what their Daddy’s were thankful for all throughout their lives.


  5. Lindsay Lebresco December 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    I love the book idea. That will certainly last longer and you’re right- a great thing to pass down. My husband’s family isn’t big on traditions – they roll their eyes at me every time we try to get a family picture so maybe I’ll just start one with my immediate family. Great idea. I hope I remember this next year!

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