4 Fun Thanksgiving Rituals for the Family


Family traditions are important. They can give your children a sense of stability, something to look forward to, and a chance for family bonding. If you’re low on traditions to pass down, try some (or all) of the following fun family rituals this Thanksgiving.

  1. In honor of the holiday, make it a day of Thanks. A simple way to do this is to go around the dinner table and take turns expressing what you’re thankful for. Or, before dinner, take some time to write down your thank-yous and take turns reading them. Your family can decorate thank-you cards and send them out to people during the week, or each one of you can choose someone in the family to share a thank-you card with at the table (privately or publicly). This may take an investment of time on your part if you have very young children, but it teaches a valuable lesson.
  2. Have your own Macy’s parade. While the turkey is in the oven (or a day or two before), build parade “floats” with your children. You can find great holiday craft ideas with a simple online search. Before dinner, parade these crafts through the living room, giving each child a round of applause (even if you did most of the project for them). If you have several children, you can even let them vote for their favorite float to display on the dinner table (but be careful of breeding a competitive atmosphere). Decorate your house with the “floats” to honor the holiday season.
  3. Act out the Thanksgiving story. Do a little research, write a simple script, and assign parts to members of your family. You can dress them up for this or allow them to stay in their regular clothes. This can be a very short skit, but take a little time for a rehearsal or two to stretch out the family fun time. Make sure it’s a low-pressure event and your little ones have all the support they need. If the entire family is involved, leaving no audience, record the show and watch it together before or after dinner. And make sure you watch it again next year!
  4. Make pie time family time. I know, I know, you’ve just eaten dinner together as a family. That’s family time, isn’t it? Of course. But now that it’s time for pie, lighten the mood a little bit. Pick out a family favorite movie or board game and gather together for a slice. If you have older children who look forward to Black Friday shopping, make pie time planning time. Discuss and list what you’re looking for, which stores you’ll hit, and how early you plan to start.

Whatever activity you choose, remember it should be fun. If the ritual leads to high-stress, tears, or tantrums (whether yours or your kids’), it’s not worth it. Try something simple with young children and let it grow and develop as they do. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!