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10 Thanksgiving Traditions to Start This Year

Go beyond the turkey and football this Thanksgiving. It doesn't matter if you spend the holiday with friends or family, do something new this year. Here are 10 non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions you could try this year.

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Have Everyone Give a Thanksgiving Toast

Instead of one long toast at the beginning of the meal, go around the table and let everyone offer a brief toast. Younger guests will love being a part of the action and who knows what they’ll want to toast to!

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Write Out Thank You Cards

Encourage gratitude. After dinner, give everyone one thank you card and have them write to someone who made an impact in their lives over the last year. Provide a stamped envelope and encourage everyone to address it and send on Black Friday. This will give everyone a chance to reflect on the people they are truly thankful for before they get swept up in the holiday shopping mania.

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Go Big on Thanksgiving Breakfast

If you’re having dinner later in the day, start the day with an indulgent breakfast. Whether it’s a big breakfast casserole, pancakes, waffles or extravagant pastries from the local bakery, relax and enjoy the first meal of the day. You can also host an open house with pastries and coffee for neighbors before everyone begins their busy day in the kitchen.

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Have a Video or Photo Night

When the meal is over and dishes are washed and put away, get comfortable and watch old family movies together, or get out photo albums for a good laugh. This would also be a great time to enjoy a second piece of pie or a turkey sandwich.

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Let Kids Serve Thanksgiving Dessert

For a new tradition this Thanksgiving, have the younger guests serve dessert. Kids can feel left out, especially when they’re sitting at a kids’ table away from the rest of the crowd. Have the older children cut slices of pie for younger ones to serve. If there are different desserts available, have one of the kids take orders. 

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WriteMarina Zezelina/Shutterstock

Write Down What You are Thankful For

Instead of your traditional Thanksgiving tablecloth, use butcher paper and have each guest write down what they are thankful for this year. Encourage young guests to doodle if they’re too young to write. When the meal is over, you can tear off meaningful memories to keep.

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Take a Long Walk

If the weather cooperates, have everyone lace up their shoes or boots for a walk after the big Thanksgiving meal. It doesn’t matter if you just go around the neighborhood or head out into the woods, take some time to enjoy the crisp fall air together.

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Host a Pie Party

Instead of having everyone over for a big Thanksgiving meal, host a pie party and invite over friends, family and neighbors to bring their best pie recipe. You could do all dessert pies or any kind of pie from turkey pot pie to pumpkin to cheeseburger pie!

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GiftsDarya T/Shutterstock

Give Gratitude Gifts

After the meal is over, sit down with your family and think of a few people that deserve a big thank you and put together a gratitude gift. Make a list of things you can put in a goodie basket, such as gift cards, artisan chocolates, coffee, movie passes or fun snacks. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, gather the items and deliver the basket together. 

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Play the Add-On Game

When you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, have each person come up with one thing they are thankful for this year. Have the first person go and then the second person will have to repeat what the previous person said and then add their own. So it would sound like this:

Person one: “I am thankful for all of us.” Second person: “I am thankful for all of us and football.” Third person: “I am thankful for all of us and football and pie.”

See how far you can get before someone forgets what to say!

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.