Genuine effort is made by many to come home to a holiday table filled with comfort foods, family and the best of friends. We’re giving you a list of delightful ways to lure the family home from near and far this Thanksgiving so you can create a bank of beautiful memories for years to come.
Ideas for Starting Your Own Holiday Traditions
1. Start an annual holiday scrapbook. On two adjoining pages of the scrapbook, include your holiday menu and who helped prepare each dish, decorated the table, etc. Take photos of the meal makers and of the table and guests enjoying the holiday dinner. List the date and the names of everyone present and the children’s ages. If you are using a recipe that has been handed down for generations in your family, record that in the album too.
2. Designate an annual pie, bread or cake baker for the Thanksgiving meal. With a little help from Mom or Grandmother, a young child of 4 or 5 can help make his or her first pumpkin or pecan pie or favorite dessert annually. Note the date in your cookbook by the recipe that a junior cook helps prepare for the first time. It will be amazing to see how fast time passes. Keep a camera in the kitchen during the holidays. Take a photo of the child as he or she makes the special holiday pie or other dessert. Add a photo of the child each year to your scrapbook and watch the happy tradition and child grow!
3. Make a cinnamon log cabin. Use the top third of a half-gallon milk carton as the base. Glue frosted shredded wheat on the top for the roof. Cut window openings on at least two sides and insert a square “snap” pretzel. Cut a door opening in the bottom center of a narrow side for the front door. Glue cinnamon sticks horizontally on the sides of the carton with a glue gun. Pipe the space between cinnamon sticks with a tube of white, window glazing, (available at hardware stores and home improvement centers) to resemble chinking. Left over cinnamon sticks can be used to construct a split-rail fence. Display on the table with miniature farm animals, pilgrims, and Indians and the scene is set. The cabin can be sealed in a storage bag and reused again the following year.
4. Make gingerbread pilgrims for Thanksgiving. With a batch or tubes of white icing and gingerbread cookies made with gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters, the fun begins! Get everyone in on the decorating. Make the cookies ahead. Once everyone is together, announce a cookie-decorating contest. See who can make the most authentic pilgrim. With icing, pipe on aprons, capes, shawls, vests, pocket watches, eyeglasses, etc. to make pilgrim gingerbread cookies.
5. Give a gift of appreciation to your holiday host: a loaf of pumpkin bread, a potted mum or a jug of apple cider. If you’re the host, place a note card besides each table place setting telling each person how you are specifically thankful for them.
6. Read a Thanksgiving storybook each year as a family.
7. Reenact the first Thanksgiving with the children after you read the story aloud.
8. Host a brunch the weekend following Thanksgiving for your closest friends that weren’t able to join you for Thanksgiving dinner.
9. Gather with other family and friends for games and sports over the holiday weekend. Kickball, softball, relay races, bike rides, or a hiking expedition make great group activities and a chance for the whole family to exercise and have fun together!
10. Make Thanksgiving cards by hand or on the computer as a family project and send to family and friends for whom you are thankful. Hand-deliver cards to neighbors, postman, dearest friends, family, and club or church members.
11. Reach out. Invite a single or elderly neighbor over for Thanksgiving dinner. Donate to a food bank, or give gifts to those in the hospital, nursing homes or hospice. Share your bountiful blessings with others.
12. Set play dough and holiday cookie cutters out on a tray for the wee folk to play with while you’re preparing the holiday meal.
13. Make a holiday collection of family favorite recipes for each family member to save and pass down.
14. Make a Thanksgiving acrostic on paper, and allow each person to think of something they are thankful for that begins with each letter of the word. Everyone can have a chance to read their list aloud at the table right before dinner.
15. Reflect on the year’s blessings and give thanks. Read Psalm 100, President George Washington’s October 3, 1789 Proclamation on Thanksgiving Day, or any poem of Thanksgiving. Sing the Thanksgiving Day song written by Mrs. Lydia Maria Child in 1844 or your favorite hymn as a group. And by all means enjoy the food, our freedoms and time of fellowship with those you cherish and with those that need cherishing.