If you have a little one about to celebrate their first Thanksgiving, why not kick off a new tradition that grows with your baby? Family traditions are like secret recipes; they make moments special and build unbreakable bonds. And starting a tradition in the first year means your child just might celebrate it every year of their life.
That being said, if you’ve missed the first year, don’t let that stop you! You can start a tradition anytime. Our Babies & Bumps event season is usually from the last snowfall to the first snowfall (we’re based in New York), so when Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re ready for a mega-break. And there’s something about being away from home that makes it so much easier for us to relax. So, we started celebrating Thanksgiving with our parents in early November and going away with the kids for some special family time surrounding the holiday. This is only our third year doing it, but it’s safe to say it’s a tradition now – and one we love!
Here are 10 ideas to make Thanksgiving with your growing family something to look forward to every year. Remember, the best traditions are the ones that make your family’s hearts sing, so tweak these ideas or use them as inspiration to dream up your own!
- Thanksgiving Love Letter. Each year, write down some of the moments you’re most grateful for from the year. Add a (printed!) photo or more and keep those in a safe spot that you’ll remember so you can look through them and reflect on your blessings year after year. You can add these to an album, too, so it’s easy to keep them together over time.
- Tiny Turkey Handprints. Get crafty with your baby’s handprints to make an adorable turkey. Do it every year and watch those turkeys get bigger! As they get older and can get more involved in the action, you’ll see the styles change, too. And if you have more kids, you can watch your flock grow!
- Jar of Thanks. Create a jar where everyone, baby included, gets a sweet note about why they’re cherished. Go around the table and share during dessert and watch everyone’s faces light up as the notes are read. You can do something similar by making a gratitude tree. Cut leaves out of yellow, orange, and red construction paper and people can hang their notes on a tree after they read them to the family.
- Gratitude Videos. There’s nothing like seeing family members, hearing their voices, and learning about what’s meaningful to them. Record each member of your family sharing what they’re grateful for – even just one thing – and create an album in your phone so you can look back at them year after year. Bonus points for combining them to make a video with everyone’s clips so you have one movie for the year. Don’t forget to share with your loved ones so they can enjoy, too!
- Storytime Tradition. Dive into the world of Thanksgiving picture books. Pick a favorite to read aloud each year, snuggled up with the whole family. If that’s not your style, find some books you love, pull them out on November 1st, and read them at bedtime through Thanksgiving.
- Dinner Snapshot. Snap a photo of everyone at the Thanksgiving table each year. Same spots, same smiles. Create an album that tells your family’s story, one Thanksgiving at a time, and watch everyone grow over the years.
- Nostalgia Lane. Think back to your childhood Thanksgivings. Is there a special memory you can bring back to life? A way the table was set, a special prayer, or a decoration? Bring back those cherished moments and keep them going forward every year.
- Family Movie Night. End the day with a movie that means a lot to your family. Make it your Thanksgiving movie tradition, complete with popcorn (if you have room for it!) and cuddles.
- Turkey Trot. Burn off some calories before you indulge in your Thanksgiving feast! Start off by bringing baby in a stroller and when they’re older, they can run alongside you and the rest of the family.
- Charity Giving. Your baby will be too young to remember when you start, but you can keep track of what you’ve done over the years and involve them when they get older to teach them the importance of giving back, being thankful for others, and supporting those who are less fortunate. Whether this is volunteering, making a financial contribution, or donating items, acts of service are powerful for both those giving and receiving. Select a charity or cause that’s meaningful to your family and contribute year after year, or make it a tradition to spend time learning about a new organization and their mission every year, and what you can do support them and make a difference in your community.
I hope you find some inspiration in these ideas! I’d love to hear about your traditions and how you make this holiday special for your family.