Thanksgiving Traditions

What’re some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? My kids are still young and we are still trying to figure out our traditions… What stood the test of time? If you have kids already in college, did your traditions change once they went away to school?

We take a walk around the neighborhood pond between the main meal and dessert. Frequently see neighbors with the same idea.


Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl- this is probably the 30th year- my husband started it before we had kids with his siblings and their kids. Now we have 3 generations playing and it’s talked about all year.


We played football and/or basketball every year, young and old, but Thanksgiving 2013, a very big guy, that I did not know, rolled into me on purpose when I went to touch him. He pulverized my tibial plateau and all the cartilage in my knee is gone - steel plates, the whole works. Now we run the Kiawah Island Turkey Trot on the beach instead, rain or shine, but I am not allowed to run more than 20 minutes on surgeon’s orders. I still can’t wait for Thanksgiving every year!

My wife gets up early on Thanksgiving Day and gets the turkey in the oven, and I (and now also our kids, as they are older) help get the side dishes prepared. After our meal, my wife and I take a stroll around the neighborhood; then I go back and cook stock using the turkey bones while everyone else takes a nap. At some point during the day we will gather around the television to watch the Detroit Lions lose once again (my wife grew up outside of Detroit, and she recalls her grandfather and father driving in to the Silverdome when she was a child to see the Lions play on Thanksgiving Day).

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I always plant garlic in my garden and mulch it over.


40 years of a family bowling tournament Friday after Thanksgiving.


After Thanksgiving dinner, several hands of pinochle, round robin tournament style! We also receive our Pollyanna names for our family Christmas exchange.


Cooking almost everything but the turkey the day/night before as a family (me, DH, son, my mom) is the highlight of our year. T-day itself is almost inconsequential. I make a pot of clam chowder and cheddar popovers early Wednesday afternoon along with setting up a never-ending champagne bar so we can sip and eat as we cook the Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres, stuffing, sides, and desserts. We each have our recipe cards, roll up our sleeves, turn up the music, and go at it. It’s an all afternoon/evening riot of kitchen and cooking fun. We even set the table the day before (china, silver, crystal, linen, the works).

Thanksgiving morning, DH tends to the turkey on the grill, and we have a leisurely day as we only need to warm up the go-withs. We enjoy the meal but not as much as the making of it.

This year, for the first time, we are having Thanksgiving at our son’s, but he insists that we do it exactly as we’ve always done at home, so the tradition continues. His GF is in for a treat. (She’s making the pies.) :blush:


[quote] we will gather around the television to watch the Detroit Lions lose

I have Michigan relatives and I confirm they all say this


We play bingo for silly prizes (all disguised in identical paper bags). One prize is the same every year and everyone tries to win that one.


My family has an odd tradition of pizza and sushi for dinner the night before Thanksgiving.


Lol, another “watch the Lions lose” family as t-day usually occurs in southeast Michigan. Used to be they often played the Packers so we were a house divided.

Other traditions:
Pick the Secret Santa names for Christmas
Make the fresh whipped cream just minutes before pie.
A few rounds of Catch Phrase


We spend Thanksgiving at our vacation place where everyone in our family and guests participate in a Turkey Plunge on Thanksgiving morning. The plunge involves jumping into the Atlantic Ocean, which is very cold in November in our neck of the woods. The event is a fundraiser for the local library. Afterwards, we have hot chocolate and hot showers at home and continue preparing dinner. The plunge was virtual last year and again this year.


everybody gets 3 construction paper slips of paper and writes something they are thankful for, and then we collect them, add them to our family paper chain and hang it up for Christmas. We have been doing this for more than 30 years and the chain is really, really, REALLY long now.

We read a bit about the Mayflower (my father’s family came on the Mayflower) and Native people (because everyone should know real US history) and Immigrants (DH’s people came through NYC, pre-Ellis Island)


Not sure if this counts as a tradition but we host every year. We have friends who have (literally) attended for decades. We start apps and drinks a few hours before dinner which is a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

We are moving next spring so this is the last big bash. Friends who moved to Florida last summer are flying up here to attend!


We always have hosted Thanksgiving at our house as we are the mid way point for family coming from opposite directions. I cook a huge brisket (my parents brings the turkey) and I always cook it the day before so it can cool overnight and be easily sliced on Thanksgiving day. It makes it so much easier for me as I am not rushing to get the main dish done the day of and my oven is free for the side dishes.

Question though…do you do Thanksgiving lunch or dinner? We have started at 1:00 some years for a late lunch and 4:00 some years for an early dinner. Curious what most people do.


I make an overnight breakfast egg strata (part of the cooking riot I posted above) that we eat mid-morning (9-10AM), and we have hors d’oeuvres and champagne early afternoon so we aren’t starving by the time the main meal is ready, usually around 3. (Unlike most, though, our T-day only includes people who are staying in our house, so we have to feed them all day.)


Time depends on football (really). H looks at the schedule and sets the time.


We usually start the meal around 2 pm and after a break in the middle often don’t actually finish until 6 pm. So it’s just one big meal.


I feel like we don’t have many traditions other than what we eat. Our whole family has moved around a lot and everyone is scattered. After I went to college, no thanksgiving was ever the same two years in a row.

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