Last year was a new type of Thanksgiving for us.
With nowhere to go and my parents living with us at the time as they searched for their retirement home (thanks, pandemic housing market!), we hosted Turkey Day in our home. My husband and I, along with our five children, and my parents, had a long day of nothing but mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie stretching out in front of us.
I won’t lie: Thanksgiving isn’t my favorite, and after so much togetherness last year, I wanted to try to mix things up a bit on that oh-so-traditional holiday. So I came up with a few new Thanksgiving traditions last year to make the day just a bit more fun. And much to my surprise, they were a success!
So I’m keeping the Thanksgiving traditions alive again this year. Here are a few of the Turkey Day plans I plan on bringing back:
These colorable tablecloths are such a small, silly thing, but my kids absolutely loved them. I waited until they went to bed for the night before Thanksgiving, then threw them on our main table, along with a smaller table I set up for the day.
They woke up and felt like there was a bit of a “surprise” for them, and it was a fun activity to keep them busy while we watched the parade and prepped for dinner.
Pro tip: Pick up a couple of tablecloths so you can easily swap it out after breakfast and keep the coloring fun rolling all day.
At-Home Turkey Trot
I have a slightly weird confession: I’ve always been a bit jealous of Turkey Trot families. In my ideal world, we would be the kind of family who heads out for a brisk Turkey Trot to stay active and refreshed.
But in reality, my husband hates to work out and hauling five kids anywhere by myself isn’t fun, so last year, I decided to bring the Turkey Trot to us by hosting our first annual Turkey Trot in our yard.
We did silly “old-fashioned” games, like Potato Sack races and relay races in the driveway, along with a family wide Turkey Trot down our road. I bought cheap medals and hosted an award ceremony, too, and we all had a blast (plus it got us moving after dinner!).
Pro tip: Rope in a grandparent to film the potato sack races, because they will be downright hilarious, I can promise you that.
Annual Turkey T-shirt Design Competition
To go along with our Turkey Trot, I had the kids all make and design their own official Turkey Trot T-shirts. I threw some cheap white T-shirt packs and fabric markers in my grocery order, and set them all out for the kids to decorate.
They actually took it very seriously and it occupied them for a good hour! The fabric markers actually hold up incredibly well, too. Once your t-shirts are decorated, you can throw them in the washer and keep them around forever. We still have all the t-shirts from last year, so it’s a fun reminder of our pandemic holiday. Plus, it’s a visible way to track their growth, since I made them add their turkey “handprints.”
Pro tip: If your family isn’t into T-shirts, or you have way too many in your house, you can also do this with hats! Plain white hats + fabric markers are a super fun activity too (and they’ll last, even in the wash.)
Traditional Child Dessert
Every year, I let the kids choose and make one “fun” dessert for Thanksgiving. One year, it was turkey pudding cups and the next, it was turkey Oreos. The kids love it and it’s a fun way to do a craft-type project, even for my older, oh-so-cool teen.
Pro tip: Construction paper + pudding cups = the easiest Thanksgiving craft dessert ever.
Cheesecake > Pie
Sure, sure, everyone loves pie at Thanksgiving, but can I interest you in considering swapping that time-consuming pie for the easiest cheesecake recipe ever?
It involves only five ingredients, takes minutes to prepare and I promise you, everyone will love it. Plus, it makes for the most delicious next-day breakfast paired with coffee, so it’s basically two meals in one.
Pro tip: Make this dish a chocolate one by crumbling up chocolate graham crackers, mixing the crumbs with one stick of melted butter, and pressing them into a dish for a chocolate crust, then stirring in some mini chocolate chips when you make the cheesecake.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions as a family?