Nearly every family in America eats Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and bread rolls on Thanksgiving. Most people gather around the table with family and friends. It’s common to have pie for dessert. Many families also take a walk or play a game of backyard football to stay away after consuming so much food.
While those are wonderful legacies, start new family traditions this year. Some are simple and a one-time event, while other activities can be celebrated all month long. Most of all, these family traditions will spark conversations about thankfulness, provide opportunities to show gratitude, and deepen your family relationships.
Which new Thanksgiving tradition will your family start this year?
A Thanksgiving tree is a visual symbol of our hearts maturing from ungratefulness to thankfulness. Your whole family can participate in the activity, plus it makes a lovely Autumn decoration for your home.
- Pick bare sticks and place them in a vase or jar. Note: make sure they have enough “branches” to hang leaves on.
- Collect fresh leaves, purchase fake fabric ones, or make leaves out of paper. You could also collect real leaves and then trace them on construction paper to make this a family craft activity.
- Every day leading up to Thanksgiving, have each family member name one thing they are thankful for, write it on a leaf, and hang it on the sticks. You could start the Thursday before Thanksgiving for 1 week of gratitude, or start on November 1 so the thankfulness lingers the entire month!
- On Thanksgiving, admire how the ugly sticks were transformed into a beautiful tree with plentiful leaves. Also mention how our ungrateful hearts were transformed into grateful hearts because of the gratitude tree!
Have you ever considered the difference between thankfulness and gratitude? Sunshine and Munchkins describes this perfectly, so here’s her words:
“So often we use the words thankful and grateful interchangeably and it’s easy to forget that they actually have different meanings. I think this quote sums it up really well: “Thankfulness is measured by the number of our words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.” -David O. McKay. To me, this means that when we have gratitude, we are taking our thankfulness a step further by taking action.”
She uses the Deeds of Gratitude activity to teach her kids about the actions of gratitude. Here’s how you can start this family tradition too:
- On a set of leaves (either purchased or cut out of construction paper), write down actions that symbolize gratitude.
- Hang the leaves in a visible place within your home to remind you of gratitude.
- Encourage every member of your family to express gratitude daily.
- Reflect over the leaves and the meaning of gratitude on Thanksgiving.
Make a wish and split the wishbone!
Okay, this one may be a common family tradition, but splitting the wishbone is too much fun to pass up! Play a game or randomly select two people to participate. Have each one hold a side of the wishbone, close their eyes, and make a wish. Then then pull. Whoever pulls off the larger part of the wishbone will have their wish granted!
Make a Cookie Wreath
Have you ever considered making a cookie wreath for Thanksgiving? Kids and adults alike will enjoy this craft! Plus, you can use it as an edible table centerpiece…if your family is patient enough to not take a bite until after dinner!
Here’s the full tutorial:
- Make your favorite sugar cookie dough.
- Evenly divide the dough into 4 balls. Dye each ball a different color of Fall leaves (yellow, orange, red, green).
- Using a cookie cutter, make leaves in each color. Patch together the scraps to make a multicolored leaf.
- Before baking, use a toothpick to draw the veins and stem.
- Bake according to the recipe, and allow to fully cool on a baking rack.
- Assemble the wreath: If desired, “glue” the wreath to a cardboard wreath form or a plate. Use red icing as glue. (You can make homemade icing by combining powdered sugar, milk, and food dye until it forms a glue-like paste.)
Play the Thankful Game
A home full of laughter is indeed something to be thankful for! And the Thankful Game will spark roars of laughter from your home. This game can be played everyday leading up to the holiday, or just during the Thanksgiving meal.
- Have everyone write down something on a notecard that they are thankful for.
- Place all of the notecards in a jar or bag.
- Have one person draw a card and guess who wrote it.
- Pass the jar/bag to the next person, have them draw a card and guess who wrote it.
- Continue until everyone has had a turn!
What are your Thanksgiving family traditions?
Do you plan Black Friday shopping trips? Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Do you serve the less fortunate in your community?
Share your favorite Thanksgiving family traditions in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about the legacy you create in your family over the holidays!
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