One of the best and most rewarding things about having kids is introducing them to your favorite traditions. This Thanksgiving, why not create some new ones to share with your family? From playing games to decorating everything in sight, keep reading to discover a whole list of awesome ideas to help make this classic holiday your very own.

photo: hmmlargeart via Flickr

Up Your Ornamentation

Draw Your Thanks
Cover the holiday table with a white tablecloth. Place glasses filled with cloth markers around the table. Ask your guests to draw what they’re thankful for or just something fun—like their favorite Thanksgiving memory.

It’s All about the Pumpkins
Place a small pumpkin at each place setting. Around the table, leave small bowls with glitter, markers, stickers, etc. and ask your guests to decorate the pumpkins like their favorite Thanksgiving character–a turkey, pilgrim, Plymouth Rock … whatever.

Gather Fall Foliage
Ask children or even older guests to gather up acorns, pinecones, and other outdoor foliage to make fall wreaths. You can either have these made before people arrive or make it an art project for everyone to do together while the turkey cooks.

Decorate Everything in Sight
You can find everything pumpkin (candles, centerpieces, wreaths, etc.) and turkey (chocolate, ones that gobble) at local craft stores like Michael’s. Get everything you can, and decorate each and every room of the house with turkeys and pumpkins—even the bathroom!

Make a Menu
Menus are usually reserved for restaurants, but why not add one to your Thanksgiving meal? Have your children design it! They can create one for each place setting using pictures to describe the meal.

Capture the Moments
Pick up a Polaroid camera and snap pics of everyone around the table. Add the date to these pictures, and then each year use these pictures as part of your future Thanksgiving decorations.

photo: Hey Mr. Lady via Flickr

Foodie Fun for Everyone

Plant Secret Messages
While cooking, hide messages (or fortunes) in your biscuits or crescent rolls. When guests bite into the biscuit, they’ll be in for a fun surprise. And, each year, your guests will look forward to what they may find.

Have a Plan for Your Leftovers
Thanksgiving is all about the food, and there is usually a ton! Why not host or plan a Friendsgiving with leftovers the next day or later that weekend for your closest friends.

Make a Wish
While carving your turkey, grab the wishbone and leave it out to dry. Once the meal is done, choose two names out of a hat to pull at the wishbone. The winner can choose their dessert first! Or make a wish, and see if it comes true.

Change It Up
There’s nothing wrong with stuffing and green bean casserole, but why not change up your side dishes? Your guests will be excited to see what you cook up next.

photo: Ryan and Sara Deeds via Flickr

Carving Out Family Fun

Watch the Parade
Before the food and the stretchy pants come out, put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving’s Day parade. Everyone can pick out their favorite balloon and float, and you can all marvel at the new giant balloons that appear each year.

Make a Pin Up
This may appeal more to children, but hang up a large picture of a turkey and play pin the feathers on the turkey. Whoever gets the feather the closest, gets the first helping of turkey.

Lend a Hand
Have your children or even your guests, make handprint turkeys. You can put people’s names (and the date) on them and use these as place settings. Keep them after the holiday, and bring them out each year to compare hand sizes.

Save Room for Peanuts
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there is no shortage of fabulous movies and TV specials to watch. On Thanksgiving, pop on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. There’s nothing more fun for kids and adults than watching Snoopy and the gang.

Have Game Time
In between courses, bring out old school board games from Monopoly to Scrabble to Candyland and hold a board game tournament. This will give your guests plenty of time to digest in between the main meal and dessert.

Toss the Ball 
Besides turkey and pie, nothing says Thanksgiving like football! Grab the pigskin and enjoy the great outdoors while the turkey is cooking. And of course, watching football on TV is a time-honored tradition, too.

Jingle Those Bells
While cooking, blast some holiday music (Yes, it’s OK to start Christmas music already) and have a dance party with your children. They’ll remember those fun times more than the meal!

Make It Your Own
Formal isn’t always better. Our family tradition is that every year we all wear crazy Thanksgiving themed hats … some light up, some make noise, but everyone–even the kids get one. Some look like a turkey, while one is in the shape of a pumpkin pie complete with a dollop of whipped cream. Every year, my children look forward to picking out their funny Thanksgiving hat.

Get Some Air
People tend to eat a lot on Thanksgiving. Why not take a big family walk after dinner but before dessert? Get in some exercise, family time, and unplug from everything.

photo: Jessica Lucia via Flickr

Putting the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving

This may seem like a given, but going around the table and sharing what everyone is thankful for is a great way to connect with loved ones.

Write It Down
Instead of just saying out loud what you’re thankful for, have everyone write down what they’re more grateful for. Then you can put it in a big bowl, and people can pull out the slips of paper and then try and guess who wrote each one.

Give Something Back
It is the season to give thanks but also the season to give back. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or sign up to with your children to do Toys for Tots to teach them about the season of giving. Another great idea is to ask your Thanksgiving guests to bring a non-perishable and/or canned good to donate to a local food pantry.

Run for a Cause
Get your Turkey Trot on! Raise money (and get healthy) while participating in a local turkey trot race. And get your kids involved, too!

Remember Loved Ones
Share special memories of those who have passed: stories that make you thankful for your family, both past, present, and future.

Pack Up Some Holiday Cheer
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be with their loved ones during the holiday season. Try putting together boxes for our military men and women to send overseas. Bring some joy to their holiday season.

What about you? Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions? Share in a Comment below! 

— Felissa Allard

Feature photo: Anissa Wood via Flickr

Thanksgiving traditions