Thanksgiving Traditions

Feasts, Football, Family – all traditions of today’s Thanksgiving. And for good reason: our Thanksgiving traditions here in America go back coming up on 400 years. While no one’s 100% sure what took place at the very first Thanksgiving, it surely included some combination of food, family & friends, fun…and of course, thanks.

Gathered here are traditions from a group of friends and families. See which ones resonate, or those you may want to emulate:



“My husband has ancestry from Germany and the Czech Republic: every year, no matter who hosts, he prepares and brings along sauerkraut and bread dumplings. He’s even gotten a few of the kids to start eating kraut on their turkey!”

“My uncle loves to argue about making the stuffing ‘inside the bird’ or outside. We always make both.”

“A big deal for us is pulling the wishbone from the turkey and seeing who gets the bigger end… loser has to do the dishes!”

“We also always have a mac n’ cheese bake. And way too many desserts. And occasionally there’s a dog or two wearing some sort of holiday pajamas.”

“The weekend before Thanksgiving we will make homemade ravioli from scratch. We freeze them and eat them on Thanksgiving Day. We top the ravioli with homemade red sauce (we call it ‘gravy,’ not to be confused with what we serve with the turkey – one’s tomatoey-red, the other lumpy and brown!)”

“We always have Polish sausages, sauerkraut and pierogis…and nobody in my family is Polish!”

“Pumpkin pie and Old Fashioneds for ‘dessert!’”

“Since no one can decide, we cook two turkeys every year: one in the oven (in a brown paper grocery bag!) and one outside in the smoker.”



“I always help Dad put up Christmas lights on his house before snow hits. He’s no Clark Griswold, but it ends up pretty spectacular.”

“Because of multiple extended families, we have to make multiple stops on Thanksgiving – with questions always being: What to bring to whom? Casserole? Flowers? Wine? It’s a lot of miles driving that day. And…what we can eat at each stop to not feel so tired that we can’t make it to the third or fourth celebration?”

“My parents take an annual photo of all their grandchildren. It’s fun to see the new additions and just how the kiddos have been growing up so fast.”

“There is not one kid at the “kid’s table” anymore, but we still like our own table because it is tradition! We spent all those years hoping to be old enough to sit at the ‘grown-ups’ table,’ but now we just want to go back to our special place.”

“My girlfriend is Canadian, so we enjoy two Thanksgivings every year!”

“Every Thanksgiving, we all gather at my cousins’ house up north -they live on a golf course. After we all eat a ton of food, all the women (me, my mom, my sister, my cousins, etc.) go for a long walk around the golf course, even if it’s freezing cold! All the men go downstairs to watch football (half of them usually fall asleep), so when we come back, we wake them up and we all eat pie.”



“We’ve always participated in a local Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving. Always a great way to start the day before gorging oneself with food for the next twelve hours.”

“The Thanksgiving Day parades are always on all the TVs as we’re preparing the feast”

“Believe it or not, my family and friends play a plethora of poker games every year – sometimes even for $!”

“We always play Holiday music while we clean up after dinner. It’s the start of the Christmas season for us!”

“Turkey Day touch football game! We break up the teams differently each year with family and friends, but it’s always competitive.”

“Everyone always watches Thanksgiving Day football games, until we all fall asleep.”

“Our Thanksgiving always includes a family game night – every year one of us is assigned to bring in a “new game” to the fold. Some become standards, others not so much…”

“We actually go out after Thanksgiving as a group to a nearby tree farm and hunt for that perfect tree, chop it down and up on the car rack it goes.”

“We have a number drawing for each of the football games, end of the game the end number wins the pot”

“A family tradition for us is playing the card game “spoons” with aunts, uncles and cousins!”

“Our tradition, because we all hate football, is to watch a holiday movie or two – the old black and white ones are the best.”

“After dinner we actually put up the artificial tree – everyone helps out and a cocktail or two is enjoyed.”

three generations cheering


“We always volunteer at a local soup kitchen and help deliver meals to those in our community who otherwise would not have Thanksgiving. It also helps us remember that we’re all indeed thankful.”

“We join a group of buddies who all have families too far out of town to be able to make it to Thanksgiving. Our Friends-giving each year is more like the one from Peanuts – it doesn’t matter what we eat, just that we’re together.”

“We go around the table one by one saying what we are thankful for starting with the very youngest all the way to the oldest.”


PLEASE ADD your Thanksgiving traditions here – everyone loves to hear about a new/old idea.

And…thank you.









LifeYourWay Editor


  • We cook all day with mom. Then when the guests are done eating we clear the table and wash all the dishes, lots and pans. We have a quick nip of eggnog to reward ourselves for all the hard work. We go for a long walk yes even if it’s freezing. We also have a kids spot, but it is a counter with stools. Our dining room table seats ten. Whoever sits in the chair closest to the kitchen is the runner. We call that the “slave chair”. We consider ourselves, he four sisters “the slaves” because the company site on their ads all day and we get to wait on them! My mom also made two different recipe dressings

  • My daughter after the feast is over gives all the families a large container to fill with left overs to take home 🏠.