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10 Thanksgiving Traditions to Start This Year

Thanksgiving is all about tradition. Every family’s got one (or a few)–some are fun, others are sentimental, and then there are those that are just plain wacky! This year, go beyond the turkey and pumpkin pie and add a new noteworthy ritual to your Thanksgiving Day routine. And don’t forget to customize Thanksgiving face masks for your group.

Thankful Tablecloth

There’s no better time of the year to count your blessings than Thanksgiving. Pick up a white canvas drop cloth—most home improvement stores should have them for around $10. After ironing the cloth, drape it over your Thanksgiving table. Add a cup or dish full of Sharpies to your table setting (keep them all the same ink color). Before it’s time to get your grub on, have each guest write down something they are thankful for on the tablecloth along with their signature. Each year, pull out the same tablecloth and continue the tradition using a different colored Sharpie or fabric marker. You’ll be so grateful to have the signatures of everyone who’s joined you for Thanksgiving over the years, especially those who may no longer be with you. TIP: Use extra care if you need to wash your tablecloth! Consider embroidering each gratitude and signature to make it durable. You definitely don’t want these special memories to fade.

Run for Seconds

Earn that second helping of mashed potatoes! Register with friends and family to run or walk a local 5k, Turkey Trot, or charity run on Thanksgiving morning. Participating in a race offers a fun and festive way to kick off the day, plus you’ll feel great about burning off a few extra calories before you indulge. Don’t forget to order festive t-shirts to commemorate the occasion! For more inspiration, check out our list of terrific turkey run team names and thanksgiving slogans.

Propose a Toast

This year at your Thanksgiving table start a toasting tradition. Pull out the bubbly or sparkling cider along with your favorite champagne flutes—you can custom order your own here! Begin with the host or hostess. They must toast one person at the table by stating one thing they are thankful for in regards to that person. Then, the person who was just toasted must toast someone else. So on and so forth, until the last person then has to toast the host or hostess who started. This will really force you and your guests to slow things down and take time out of the day for each other. Cheers to what you are and who you are with on this Thanksgiving!

Give Back

Spend this Thanksgiving getting wrapped up in the spirit of giving. Find a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen where you can help prepare and serve a hot meal. If leaving your own kitchen on Thanksgiving Day is unrealistic, make a donation to a local food bank. Get the kids involved by having them each pick out a few canned goods or other non-perishable items from the grocery store for a donation. Maybe visit a retirement home around the holiday and bring some flowers or donate the gift of good conversation. Offer to distribute food or bring small gifts to children or the elderly at your local hospital. Whatever speaks to you, there are plenty of ways to actively give thanks this year, and hopefully it will become a long-lasting family tradition.

Parade & Brunch

Who says your Thanksgiving meal has to be dinner? It’s likely that you start your morning by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, so why not host a brunch while you’re at it! Serve up some turkey, cranberry, and mayo sliders along with some pumpkin waffles or muffins. Add a bowl of orange, apple, and raisin fall fruit salad and sweet potato and brussels sprout hash to the spread. Make a batch of cranberry mimosas or some maple bacon bloody marys for the grown ups. Don’t forget the hot apple cider for the kids! Flip the parade on the big screen and chow down on this fresh and fun twist on the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Shake Your Tailfeathers

If you haven’t seen the Minute to Win It game ‘Junk in the Trunk,’ do yourself a favor and watch a clip—it’ll have you itching to play this Thanksgiving themed version! Collect enough empty tissue boxes to have one for each player. Fill the tissue slots with a couple of handfuls of craft feathers. Duct tape a pair of panty hose to the box, so that the box is in the middle. Now, it’s time to play. Give each player a tissue box and have them tie the panty hose around their waist, so that the tissue box is on their backside. On go, or when you start some music, players have to shake, jump, and move around until all of the feathers fall out of their tissue box. The first one to empty their box wins!

Book of Thanks

Have each guest bring a copy of a photo or two featuring something they are thankful for from the past year. This can be a family picture, a snapshot of a fun trip, a portrait of a close friend, or some other special memory. Provide a blank book so that each guest can secure in their photo and write a little snippet in regards to what it is they are thankful for. Each year, continue the tradition by starting a new book, but also pull out the old ones to look back on. It’s a great way to capture memories and the perfect reminder that there’s always something to be thankful for.

Friends & Family Football

What says ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ more than a friendly game of football? Organize a game of classic touch football for all to enjoy. Start a new tradition by creating personalized team jerseys that you can break out for the Big Game for years to come. Keep things interesting by making the losing team clean up after your turkey dinner. If you’re not in to going outside and tossing the football yourself, just gather up the gang and cheer on your favorite team on TV.


Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving, do an all pie-themed meal. Every guest, couple, or family brings a pie along with the recipe to share.

Make sure that all attendees understand that pie is a very broad term and can go well beyond the traditional pecan and pumpkin. Think savory or sweet—pizza, potpie, quiches, tarts, and more! Your pie table will be the center of the event, so dress it up with a festive tablecloth and a few small pumpkins and flowers. Don’t forget to have labels available so each guest can write down what it is they brought and everyone knows what it is they’re tasting. If you want to keep things interesting, appoint a judge or have everyone vote for the overall best pie. Award the winner with a custom apron! If your Thanksgiving Day is too crammed for this pie-themed party, add this fun holiday tradition to the day after so you can refuel after all that Black Friday shopping—plus, it’s a unique way to use up some of those leftovers!

Family Photo

Use the annual gathering to take a family photo. It may seem obvious, but so often we forget to document the things that really matter on Thanksgiving—our family, not the buffet! There’s likely to be a camera wiz among the guests, but if no one knows how to set up a tripod, it is easy enough to use a self-timer on someone’s phone. Try setting a phone or camera with a timer on a fireplace mantel to take a photo at a decent angle. Just gather up the group and simply capture a sweet pic of everyone. Don’t worry about the picture being perfect. Besides, who doesn’t love a good candid photo? Your annual pictures will be fun to look back on for years to come. Bonus: a copy of your photo will make a great Christmas gift or Holiday card.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions? Share them with us in the comment section!

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Alexa helps contribute fun, original content to the blog. She’s all about finding the perfect play on words to help inspire our customers in creating their ideal t-shirt. If you like silly sayings and catchy slogans, check out more of her posts!

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    • Linda R. Hulley

      My family did the table cloth thing over 50 years ago and embroidered all the signatures. We now have a linen cloth that is priceless because many members of our family have died. I am glad this tradition has surfaced somewhere else. There is nothing new under the sun they say. Thanks for reviving it for the internet world at large. I love Custom Ink. My children’s theater has 10 years of tee shirts from you people and they look as good as the day we got them new.

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