Celebrate Thanksgiving with the Thanksgiving traditions on this list of “Turkey Day” celebration ideas with your family and friends this holiday season. (First published October 21, 2018; this post is updated and republished to improve the content.)
This list of Thanksgiving traditions and celebration ideas contains everything you need to make your Thanksgiving festivities more meaningful. Below, you will see a list of traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu items (with recipes), fun Thanksgiving games, easy fall harvest decorations, gratitude activities & crafts, and more fun things to do on, for, and just after the national holiday known as Thanksgiving.
This year, pick a new Thanksgiving tradition to do with your family and friends for Thanksgiving. But please remember, this is a can-do list of family Thanksgiving traditions, not a must-do list. So, if it doesn’t look fun, don’t do it! We hope you enjoy trying something new for Thanksgiving in 2023!
This fun article about traditional Thanksgiving celebration ideas also includes a brief history of Thanksgiving. So if you’re wondering when Thanksgiving is this year–or looking for fun things to do on Thanksgiving day or for Thanksgiving break with the kids. Scroll down to have all of your questions answered and more! You may also enjoy this list of Christmas Traditions and Fun Easter Traditions to start with your family.
Thanksgiving Tradition FAQs
Before sharing our list of unique and classic family Thanksgiving traditions and celebration ideas, we thought we would answer a few FAQs (frequently asked questions) about Thanksgiving (also known as Turkey Day) and when Thanksgiving happens in the United States and Canada.
What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a holiday in the United States and Canada that we celebrate to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. This fall holiday is also known as “Turkey Day” because the traditional Thanksgiving menu features turkey as the main dish (or a vegetarian or vegan alternative).
We give thanks not only for the bounty we have received at harvest and the food on our table during the holiday season but also for the gifts and blessings we receive throughout the year. Even for the hard-won lessons we earn from making terrible mistakes–we give thanks for everything. Otherwise, the universe will provide us with the opportunity to learn it again.
How did Thanksgiving originate?
Several mistruths surround the story of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. Many of us are taught to believe that the first American Thanksgiving meal was a three-day feast celebrated by the Pilgrims and the American Indians after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.
Unfortunately, this story is not entirely true. It is a “story” told to the American people to whitewash the history of the brutalities committed against the indigenous peoples that inhabited these lands long before us.
Ancient earth-based societies worldwide celebrated by creating elaborate harvest feasts for Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain, Martinmas, et cetera, to give thanks long before the holiday known as “Thanksgiving” began.
Thanksgiving truths and mistruths
It is true that Pilgrims had trouble growing food and suffered from terrible famines and numerous diseases, and many of these first American settlers died as a result. And it is also true that the Wampanoag Indians showed the pilgrims how to grow crops such as corn to make it possible for the early settlers to harvest food.
The lies begin when “the story” shares that the Pilgrims had a Thanksgiving feast to thank the Native Americans for their help. As it turns out, this “story” is NOT true. Author James Barker dispels many myths surrounding the holiday known as Thanksgiving and outlines its actual history in “Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday.”
In this, the first in-depth study of the most American of holidays, James Baker sweeps away lingering myths and misconceptions to show how this celebration day was born and grew to be an essential part of our national spirit.(source)
And although a few of the “stories” we are told about “Thanksgiving” are lies, that does not mean we should not honor it as a time to “give thanks.” Instead, we can leave the harmful “stories” behind and create new ones filled with thankfulness for the lessons we continue to learn. At the same time, we remind ourselves and our families that mistakes are how we learn to do better next time.
So that today, we can create stories of community, connection, and diversity. And keep celebrating Thanksgiving for what it should be. A time to be grateful. So, make a fresh start this autumn with any of the Thanksgiving tradition ideas listed below after the remaining FAQs.
What are some typical family traditions for Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving Traditions consist of how Thanksgiving is celebrated from family to family and household to household. Thus, Thanksgiving traditions are the rituals, routines, and festive holiday rhythms shared with family and friends on or around Thanksgiving.
One of the most typical Thanksgiving traditions is cooking a turkey dinner with all the fixings (or vegetarian alternatives) to share with family, friends, and neighbors. The classic family tradition of serving a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is why Thanksgiving is also called “Turkey Day.”
Below, we have curated a list of classic Thanksgiving celebration ideas and unique traditions you can try with your family this year. Meaningful Thanksgiving family traditions, such as the unique ideas on the list below, can help make the holidays meaningful and memorable for all family members.
When do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving falls after the fall harvest in both Canada and the US. In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October, while Thanksgiving happens on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.
My family has enjoyed the “blessings of an abundant harvest” and Thanksgiving traditions with family and friends in both places–and quite a few of us are dual citizens. As a result, we have an even greater appreciation of how much we have to be thankful for.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
In the United States and Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving to remind ourselves to give thanks for the bounty we are given at harvest and throughout the year.
In other words, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a day to give thanks for everything we have or receive. We give thanks for the food on our table and each of the blessings in our lives—even the hard-learned lessons and mistakes.
What do most people do on Thanksgiving?
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is celebrated with a big meal shared between family and friends. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner often includes oven-roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and other seasonal vegetable side dishes such as corn or green beans. There are several other fun things people do on Thanksgiving. Look at the list of celebration ideas and traditions below the FAQs to learn more.
What day is Thanksgiving or Turkey Day?
In the United States, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In contrast, Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
When is Thanksgiving this year?
This year, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday, October 9, 2023, while Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 23, 2023, in the United States.
30 Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with Your Family in 2023
Use this collection of Thanksgiving tradition ideas and fun ways to celebrate Thanksgiving to help you and your family create meaning in your lives and memories that will last a lifetime. As mentioned above, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. So, we give thanks for the bounty we are given at harvest–and the bounty (blessings and lessons) that we continue to receive throughout the year.
Many of these traditional ideas are fun things to do on Thanksgiving. Other Thanksgiving traditions are activities to do before your Thanksgiving celebration or the day after Thanksgiving. You may have already heard of some of these Thanksgiving traditions, but we hope you can find something new and exciting to add to your family’s Thanksgiving celebrations!
Related: The Best Fall Art Projects for Kids
1. Host or attend a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
One of the most classic Thanksgiving traditions is hosting or attending a Thanksgiving meal with a delicious dessert to celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors. Traditionally, families choose to serve a delicious oven-roasted turkey for Thanksgiving.
However, some chefs have created delicious and creative meal substitutes, including deep-fried turkeys and vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving dinner menu options, that would make anyone’s mouth water–Thanksgiving turkey or not!
And, if nobody in your family feels like cooking or doing the dishes this year, reserve a table at your favorite local restaurant or have your meal professionally catered instead. Some families eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant every year as one of their favorite family traditions–and you can too!
Another fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to plan a holiday vacation complete with a new and unique or traditional Thanksgiving sit-down meal. Or host a Thanksgiving potluck by inviting guests to bring a dish to share.
What Food items are usually included in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?
Traditionally, a Thanksgiving dinner includes a roasted turkey as the main dish and side dishes such as stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, and other seasonal vegetables associated with the fall harvest. Desserts such as pumpkin pie and pecan pie are also commonly served.
Other dishes may be included depending on regional or personal preferences. So, the traditional Thanksgiving food items served for Thanksgiving dinner can vary from family to family and table to table. For example, my family’s potatoes must be served mashed with homemade gravy. In contrast, my husband’s family always included candied yams or sweet potatoes as a part of their traditional Thanksgiving meal. While other families substitute a sweet potato casserole or include at least two of the above!
While some people will tell you that Thanksgiving dinners traditionally include foods similar to those said to be served on the first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims did not eat the same foods we put on our Thanksgiving table today. Instead, they more than likely had a feast filled with local fowl, venison, maybe a wild turkey or two, and seasonal foods that they could grow, harvest, and prepare with the limited resources they had available.
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with Recipes:
Celebrate Thanksgiving with delicious traditional foods and dishes. Click on the blue hyperlinked text for the recipe and cooking directions for each traditional Thanksgiving menu item listed below.
- Oven-roasted turkey or vegetarian option.
- Stuffing cooked inside the turkey. Stuffing is traditionally made with cornbread; however, several other delicious variations exist today.
- Potatoes (sweet, gold, red, or yams); mashed, scalloped, baked, roasted, candied yams, etc.
- Turkey gravy – made with freshly roasted turkey drippings.
- Cranberry sauce – whole berries, jellied, or another cranberry alternative. Or, try our pumpkin bread made with whole fresh cranberries.
- A seasonal vegetable side dish made with corn, green beans, etc.
- Apple, pecan, or Pumpkin pie for dessert! Make your family’s favorite pumpkin pie recipe with homemade pumpkin puree for a fresh-from-the-garden taste you can’t get out of a can!
2. Cook something old and something new.
Here’s a fun Thanksgiving tradition you can start in your family that you might already do. Include at least one old and one new recipe in your Thanksgiving dinner meal plans. In other words, include at least one dish made with an old family recipe and another using a recipe that you have never tried before, even if it’s just a dessert, side dish, or an hour’s devours.
3. Bless the food.
Share a blessing, short prayer, or seasonal verse as you gather around the dinner table before eating your Thanksgiving feast. Invite someone to speak for everyone or share a short Thanksgiving blessing or prayer in unison.
4. Make and decorate a thankful tree for Thanksgiving.
A thankful tree is a Thanksgiving decoration that the whole family can make and decorate together. There are many ways to design and use a thankful tree. They can be as simple as a printable craft you make and hang on a bulletin board, frame, or fridge or as elaborate as a Thanksgiving table centerpiece, a gorgeous DIY home decor piece.
The one thing that they all have in common is cultivating an attitude of gratitude in the home. Making and decorating one is a Thanksgiving tradition the whole family can enjoy. Another option is a DIY gratitude mobile. Look at the gratitude tree ideas below, or click the link to learn more about the thankful tree tradition and see even more ideas!
Our family loves decorating trees so much that we have three DIY tutorials that share how to make different thankful trees for Thanksgiving. One of our Thankful trees is an easy printable craft that children can easily make on their own, while another is made with bare branches and freshly fallen preserved autumn leaves, and the other has clay gratitude leaves.
Related: Best Fall Art Projects
5. Decorate for Thanksgiving or harvest with fall decor.
Many people decorate for harvest in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Use any DIY and ready-made Thanksgiving decoration ideas from the list below to add a festive touch to your home and Thanksgiving celebrations.
DIY and Readymade Thanksgiving Decorations:
- Decorate with gourds and pumpkins from your local pumpkin patch
- Thankful Turkey Printable Thanksgiving Placemats to Color
- Turkey leaf mason jar lanterns (pictured below)
- DIY Thankful trees
- Indian corn wreath DIY
- How to Make a Canning jar lid pumpkin
- Thanksgiving table runner
- Thanksgiving decorations
- Lighted fall garland
- Fall wreath
6. Make an embroidered Thanksgiving tablecloth.
Make an embroidered Thanksgiving tablecloth that you reuse as a tradition year after year with this fun idea. A hand-embroidered tablecloth with everyone’s names hand-sewn into it as members are added to the family is a lovely homemade keepsake and a festive holiday decoration. And, because a hand-embroidered Thanksgiving tablecloth can be passed down from generation to generation, it can become a treasured heirloom and family tradition for years to come!
How to make a hand-embroidered tablecloth:
- First, find a white, 100% cotton tablecloth that will fit your family table.
- Next, ask the family to carefully sign it with their name, a short prayer, or a thanksgiving blessing.
- And finally, trace what they have written with embroidery thread and your favorite hand-sewing stitches.
7. Host a pie competition.
Hosting a pie competition as a Thanksgiving tradition can add a delightful and engaging twist to the festivities. This friendly contest is a fun way to invite family and friends to bake and bring their best pie. Whether sweet or savory, traditional or innovative. The competition can be organized with categories such as ‘Best Traditional Pie,’ ‘Most Creative Pie,’ or ‘Best Overall,’ and everyone at the gathering can participate in tasting and voting for their favorites.
Not only does this encourage culinary creativity and the sharing of beloved recipes, but it also provides an inclusive activity that involves all ages, from toddlers to the elderly. The pie competition fosters a fun, communal atmosphere and offers a delicious way to celebrate the talents and tastes of each participant, making Thanksgiving even more memorable.
8. Go to a fall harvest celebration or autumn fair.
Another fun thing to do in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving is to attend a harvest celebration or fair. Check your local family resource guide or ask Google about a harvest fair near you.
9. Read children’s Thanksgiving books & books about the fall with children.
We have compiled an impressive book list of children’s Thanksgiving gratitude books that inspire thankfulness and fall books for kids that you can read and enjoy.
10. Attend (or watch) a Thanksgiving Day parade.
Does your city or town put on a Thanksgiving Day parade? Sign up to join the procession or bring the family to watch it. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City is the quintessential Thanksgiving day parade. However, if taking the whole family to New York City is not in your travel plans this year, watch it on TV or attend a local Thanksgiving Day parade!
11. Visit a local farm (or Farmer’s Market).
The pilgrims supposedly served locally grown, freshly harvested foods for their first Thanksgiving, and we can, too! So give thanks for the bounty of the harvest, just like the pilgrims, by providing locally harvested and raised food on your Thanksgiving table.
My family likes to include local organically grown foods from our local Farmers’ Market in our traditional Thanksgiving dinner. So, we go to a local farm (or the Farmers’ Market) before Thanksgiving to pick local fresh foods for our Thanksgiving meal. It has become a family tradition that we enjoy every year.
Make gathering fresh, locally raised, and grown foods for your Thanksgiving dinner a family tradition in your home. If traveling to a local farm to collect fares for your feast is impossible, take the family to your local farmers market to purchase organically grown and raised foods.
12. Serve those in need: volunteer at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
On Thanksgiving, a lovely tradition is to take the time to serve those in need. So sign the family up to volunteer in a homeless shelter, local soup kitchen, Meals on Wheels, or other organizations serving food to those less fortunate. They always appreciate extra helping hands to ensure everyone gets fed on Thanksgiving.
13. Enter a Thanksgiving “Turkey Trot” or another race or fall harvest event.
A turkey trot is a running race that usually occurs on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, or during Thanksgiving weekend all over the United States. This tradition started to combat the “stuffed” feeling many Americans feel after gorging on a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
Enter a turkey trot near you to burn off any extra calories you may have gained from the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Invite your family to join you if they are willing. A little friendly family competition keeps a family happy and healthy.
Find a turkey trot near you HERE!
14. Offer a Thanksgiving Toast.
Making a Thanksgiving toast to add a special touch to the holiday gathering. This family tradition for Thanksgiving can help set a warm tone for the meal and bring everyone together in a shared moment of appreciation and celebration. It’s a moment to pause and express gratitude or reflect on the essence of Thanksgiving.
The toast often takes place at the beginning of the meal, where the host or a designated guest stands up, raises their glass, and shares a few heartfelt words. A good Thanksgiving toast can be a blend of humor and thankfulness and can include a reflection on the blessings you’ve experienced in the past year. It doesn’t need to be lengthy; a concise and sincere message encompassing the spirit of gratitude and togetherness will suffice.
15. Give thanks around the table during your Thanksgiving meal.
Many family members like to share what they are grateful for as they sit around the Thanksgiving table enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal together. Designate a talking stick or another item to pass around the table to signify the sharer, and take turns sharing at least one thing you are grateful for.
Or, download and print these cute Thanksgiving Coloring Placemats and invite children and other guests to make and color them while they wait for dinner to be served! Alternatively, you can take turns writing words of gratitude on leaves and hanging them on a thankful tree. For more thankful ideas, look at this fun list of gratitude activities and the Thanksgiving gratitude activities you can try below.
16. Express gratitude with thankful Thanksgiving activities and crafts.
One of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions is sharing all that we have to be thankful for with each other on Thanksgiving. Get our printable thankful turkey coloring page for an easy Thanksgiving gratitude activity the whole family can enjoy.
Or, download and print the same thankful turkey to make homemade Thanksgiving Coloring Placemats. Invite children (and other guests) to make and color them while they wait for dinner to be served. Or look at this fun list of gratitude activities and crafts you can try for Thanksgiving–click on the link to see them all!
17. Go for a walk or hike.
Like turkey trot races, this Thanksgiving tradition got people outside to move their bodies and burn off some excess calories that a traditional Thanksgiving menu provides.
Go for a stroll with the whole family before or after your Thanksgiving dinner to enjoy the seasonal sights that make autumn a gorgeous time of year. And don’t forget to bring your cameras to take family photos. You might also enjoy a fall scavenger hunt while you are out there. Or look to see if there are any signs that winter is near!
18. Take a family photo.
It’s fun to take a family photo when everyone gets together for the holidays. Hire a local professional photographer to come to take everyone’s photo. Or get out your camera to take a picture of everyone gathered around the table. Another great idea is to invite everyone to take candid photographs with their mobile phones over the weekend and then encourage them to share the photos they take with each other. Best of all, you can use your favorite photograph or photographs to make Christmas cards to send to friends and relatives for the holidays.
19. Look at family photo albums.
Another fun thing people do on Thanksgiving is look at family photos together. There are several fun reasons to get the photo books out. Even though most photo albums are digital these days, it doesn’t make it any less fun to share photos to pass the time, keep everyone updated with life events, learn about family history, or have a good laugh!
When I was a kid, I remember pouring over the photographs in my grandmother’s photo album when we visited for Thanksgiving. I loved hearing the stories of my ancestors as I flipped from page to page, looking at all the people. I can also remember when I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my boyfriend’s house in college, and his mother brought out the family photo albums to show me his baby pictures. He wasn’t that happy about it at first. However, he saw how well looking at pictures helped his mother and me relax and get to know one another. No matter the reason, Thanksgiving is a great time to share photos with one another.
20. Host a family game night or play Thanksgiving games.
A classic family Thanksgiving tradition is to play Thanksgiving games or host a family game night. Playing board games is a fun thing to do on Thanksgiving. Playing games is a great way to pass the time with the family while waiting for a delicious Thanksgiving meal to cook. Just ensure someone in the kitchen to help the chef when needed. Try the Thanksgiving gratitude games in THIS post, or look at the list of thankful games HERE. Or, pick a new board game for the whole family to enjoy!
21. Invite kids (and adults) to make Thanksgiving crafts.
Spend time connecting with your children over the break with traditional Thanksgiving crafts. Try traditional Thanksgiving gratitude crafts, such as a gratitude jar or thankful tree on the list–>HERE! Or, click on the creator of the homemade Thanksgiving crafts on the list below for step-by-step instructions. We hope you enjoy either list of Thanksgiving craft ideas kids can make!
- DIY Thanksgiving Placemats | Rhythms of Play
- Turkey Mason Jar Lantern | Rhythms of Play
- Harvest Pumpkin Watercolor Art | Rhythms of Play
- Burlap Handprint Turkey Placemats | Meaningful Mama
- Gratitude Mobile | Rhythms of Play
- Turkey Leaf Crafts
- Handprint and Footprint Turkey Craft
- Thanksgiving Apple Turkey Craft
- Clay Gratitude Leaves
- Thanksgiving Thankful Turkey Craft Kit
22. Watch a Thanksgiving movie.
When I was a child, one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions was watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” with my brothers every year when it aired on Television. Check your local listings to find out when it’s airing on TV this year, or purchase your own copy!
23. Enjoy a Movie Marathon.
If you’re not interested in a Thanksgiving movie, enjoy a movie marathon while waiting for dinner. This is a fun Thanksgiving activity for kids and adults of all ages. Or host a sleepover movie marathon with friends or family as something fun to do for Thanksgiving weekend.
24. Make a wish on the turkey wishbone.
Allow two family members to pull apart the turkey wishbone as they make a wish. The person who breaks off the biggest piece of the wishbone will have their wish granted. If the wishbone cracks evenly, both people will have their wish come true!
Related: The Best Fall Nature Crafts
25. Watch or play football.
Football games and Thanksgiving traditions go together for some families, like the mashed potatoes and gravy on their Thanksgiving dinner plate. Host a family football game, or turn on the TV to watch the kick-off with the whole family while waiting for your Thanksgiving feast to cook.
26. Go to Thanksgiving services.
Many churches, synagog temples, and other places of worship hold a unique service on or around Thanksgiving. Find one near you to attend with the whole family.
27. Do a puzzle.
Here’s a fun thing for people to do on Thanksgiving that all ages will enjoy. First, get your favorite puzzle out of the game closet or gift your family a new one. Next, put it together with friends and family to pass the time while you wait for your Thanksgiving feast.
28. Start a gift-giving tradition.
Prepare for the gift-giving season on Thanksgiving by planning a gift exchange with friends and relatives. This approach allows family and friends to engage in the spirit of giving without pressure to buy gifts for everyone. Planning this during Thanksgiving provides ample time for everyone to find thoughtful gifts and adds an element of excitement and anticipation to the holiday season.
One popular method is drawing names, where each person gets the name of another and buys a gift specifically for them, often with a set budget to keep things fair and manageable. For more ideas, read Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas. Having a gift-giving tradition in your family is a wonderful way to ensure everyone feels included and to reduce the stress and expense of holiday shopping, allowing more focus on the joy and meaning of the season.
29. Call family and friends.
Take the time to contact family and friends who will not be joining you on Thanksgiving. Reach out with a phone call so everyone can chat with anyone missing from the festivities.
30. Plan a destination vacation and make it a family tradition for Thanksgiving.
Don’t you think starting a destination vacation Thanksgiving tradition with your family would be fun? It’s a Thanksgiving experience gift the whole family can enjoy year after year!
My brother and I will never forget the year our father took us to Disneyland for Thanksgiving vacation. We stayed in the Disneyland Hotel and had a table reserved for Thanksgiving Dinner in the grand ballroom.
If you like to cook your own traditional Thanksgiving meal as a part of your Thanksgiving traditions, rent a house, condo, or cabin with a full kitchen and prepare to purchase food and a few cooking supplies.
I know a few families that make a destination vacation a family tradition instead of hosting a family meal and doing all the dishes. And these families swear by it. Some families choose the same vacation spot yearly, while others prefer a new Thanksgiving destination vacation each year.
5 More Thanksgiving Weekend Traditions
Here are a few more fun things people do on Thanksgiving weekend in the days following Thanksgiving. The final two Thanksgiving celebration ideas are modern-day after-Thanksgiving traditions that some families choose to celebrate in the United States of America that are not typically celebrated in Canada.
1. Start decorating for Christmas!
Some people start decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and others put up their trees for Thanksgiving to decorate with the family. However, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, most people get their Christmas decorations out and begin decorating. So join the fun! Get the Christmas lights and other decorations out of storage to start bringing the light of Christmas to your neighborhood.
2. Cut down your own Christmas Tree.
One of my family’s favorite new Thanksgiving traditions is getting a permit to cut down our Christmas tree for our home on the day after Thanksgiving. We encourage you to join us! Find a local Christmas tree farm near you, or get a permit and a map to head out into the woods to cut down a tree. If those options don’t exist in your city or town, visit your favorite local Christmas tree lot to get a tree to decorate instead. Or try any of these other ideas–>Christmas Traditions.
3. Enjoy Turkey Leftovers!
After Thanksgiving, enjoying leftovers is a delightful family tradition that extends the holiday’s culinary pleasures. The abundance of food prepared for the Thanksgiving feast often leads to a generous supply of leftovers, providing an opportunity for creative culinary endeavors.
Transforming these remnants into new meals not only reduces food waste but also allows for the reliving of the holiday flavors. Popular leftover dishes include turkey sandwiches, salads, soups, and casseroles. These dishes are easy to prepare and offer a comforting reminder of the holiday’s warmth and togetherness.
Leftover turkey dinner is one of my favorites! Maybe it’s because I typically only make a turkey with all the fixings once a year. So, my family savors every last bite. We love to fry leftovers in a cast iron pan to warm stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, make fresh turkey sandwiches, and make turkey stock and soups with the leftover bones and flesh.
When Thanksgiving dinner is over, make it a tradition to put the leftover turkey carcass in a stockpot to make homemade poultry stock for leftover turkey soup. And don’t forget the tradition of making homemade turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving–Yum! What is your favorite way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers? Let us know in the comment section below!
4. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving tradition)
The most well-known day after Thanksgiving tradition in America is Black Friday. In 2022, Black Friday will be on Friday, 25 November. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at midnight or earlier, to offer sales, lowered prices, and deals that companies claim you won’t find any other day of the year.
If you are curious about its origins, the Philadelphia Police Department originally called it Black Friday because the number of shoppers created traffic accidents and sometimes even violence. Another reason the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday is that retailers finally move out of the red and into the black. In other words, most retailers begin to turn a profit after Thanksgiving.
5. #OptOutside (get outside on the day after Thanksgiving)!
My immediate family loves the new #OptOutside Thanksgiving tradition. As nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, we have always spent the day enjoying the great outdoors instead of heading inside to shop. In 2015, an outdoor retailer, REI, decided to close its stores on Black Friday and challenged everyone to #OptOutside instead.
In other words, they encouraged the world to get outside to do what they love out of doors and enjoy the holiday weekend with family instead of shopping on Black Friday.
And since 2015, REI (and a few other awesome companies) have planned to keep their stores closed on the biggest shopping day of the year and pay each employee to spend time outdoors with family and friends instead. (source)
Maybe you and your family will also get outside with us on Black Friday! #OptOutside with any of these fun outdoor activities!
Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Things to Do on Thanksgiving Day
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving traditions, and fun things to do on Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving.
Remember, the traditional things we do with our friends and family hold the most meaning and create vivid memories to last a lifetime. Look at our fall bucket list seasonal activity guide for even more ideas.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!