Simple Thanksgiving Traditions (That Don't Cost a Thing!)

Simple Thanksgiving Traditions (That Don’t Cost a Thing!)


Often we get so caught up in buying beautiful things that we forget that sometimes the best traditions don’t cost money at all. Today, I’m sharing some some simple last-minute ideas to make this Thanksgiving extra sweet for the ones you love.

I always want my family holidays to be like those in the movies, don’t you?  With laughter, football, cooking, and festivity non-stop. While are lives are not picture-perfect, there are things we can do to make our time together more memorable. And I’m not talking super complicated here. Below I’ve outlined some of the simplest Thanksgiving traditions that form lifelong memories:

1. Go on a Thanksgiving walk. While dinner is still cooking or afterward, enjoy a walk with family members. Give the older people a few minutes of peace and take the little ones with you. Let them notice the trees, collect fall leaves or acorns, and maybe even bring some hot chocolate along to make it extra special.

Processed with VSCOcam with a3 preset

2. Collect branches for a Thankful Tree. One friend I know has her children collect branches on their morning Thanksgiving walk. Later they ask everyone to write down what they are thankful for on little pieces of paper and then they hang those on the tree branches they collected. Simple, yet sweet.

Source: Make it; Love it.

3. Be sure to take a family picture! Even if it is chaotic, you will be glad you did. Do this every year and keep an album to bring out every Thanksgiving. These photos will bring laughter and joy through the years.

4. Play music. If you want a festive atmosphere, make sure you have good music! My mom always has music in her home on during the holidays. It feels and welcoming, well, like the holidays.

Beautiful food helps, too.

5. Dance. Yes, dance. I remember when my mom’s friend and her family joined us for Thanksgiving one year. She thought we were so dull and said we needed to get up and dance! So she turned on some tunes and taught us all the shag. (She’s from South Carolina, of course!). Despite the initial groans, everyone had a great time.

Children love it when they see adults dancing – it’s just such a sweet thing for them to see their parents and grandparents having fun and enjoying each other.



6. Tell the Thanksgiving story. History can be so dull when you read it from a book. Read up on the amazing story of the Mayflower and the Puritans and narrate it to your children. This story is often watered down for our children in school, but in reality it is a terrific story of adventure and bravery and deep, deep gratitude. Start a tradition by sitting all the children down and telling the story. Or have them act out it with costumes you throw together with odds and ends from around the house.

If you don’t have this book – get it for next year. It’s a great story to narrate to children (and has wonderful pictures). Link at bottom of post. (Photo: The Pioneer Woman)

Want more Thanksgiving book suggestions for children? Read this post.

7. Read George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. It is such a wonderful prayer to be read before or during the meal. What a neat tradition to start with your family.


7. Consider dressing up for the occasion. It just makes it all the more special. My generation rarely dress our children up anymore so it’s a good opportunity for children to put on their finest and show honor and respect to the elder ones in attendance. (And practice good manners!). It always creates a special memory for children when they remember getting dressed up to go to Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe treat them with some sparkling apple cider – children will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity!

8. Simple crafts. There are plenty of other blogs for this! Personally, I like making simple pilgrim hats and Indian feathers with my children. They love it (but always argue over who gets to be the Indians!)

Last year’s craft.

9. Play football. Get out with your children and play with them for a game or two (or at least watch them play!). Don’t be the grouch who never wants to participate (okay, I confess, that’s me sometimes!).


10. Bring out a board game. We have a recent tradition of playing a game of Celebrity at Thanksgiving. Other families may get out Monopoly or Scrabble or a great puzzle and have it going the whole weekend. (Also see my Classic Christmas toy gift guide with more games!) Little things like this are what memories are made of!

I hope you have a wonderful, joyful, and memory-filled Thanksgiving! Please share your simple Thanksgiving traditions below.






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