We love Thanksgiving. The cool fall days, the delicious food, and the best part, time with our favourite people – our family. While we love the traditions we’ve celebrated since we were kids, we also like the idea of starting something new for our kids. This year we’ve brainstormed a few things to weave in with our old traditions in hopes of creating some special memories.

Here are a few fun ideas that we are looking forward to trying out this year:

Create a family cookbook: Ask your family to bring a printed version of their favourite recipe. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving-related. Get the kids to draw pictures and decorate the pages. Make copies and bind everything together, or scan and use a service to print the books like Blurb or Photo Book Canada (Staples, Costco and London Drugs also offer this service). Now you have a great family heirloom that everyone will treasure. It will make a great Christmas gift, if you can wait that long to give them out.

Get outside: We aren’t sure about your family, but ours gets squirrely if they are kept indoors for too long, so get out for a pre-dinner walk and encourage the kids to grab some foliage for the Thanksgiving table – fallen leaves, interesting rocks, a pinecone or two. Then when you get home, have them decorate the table while you put the finishing touches on dinner.

Bust boredom with a board game tournament: Sometimes waiting for dinner can feel like forever, so keep your guests entertained by hosting a board game tournament. Break out your stash of board games, or head to the nearest thrift store to pick up a bunch for a steal. Then set up the tournament – depending on how many people you are hosting for dinner, you can have several board games going on at once. Partner young kids up with older kids or grown-ups. The winner of each game then plays one final game for the Board Game Champion to be crowned. Make sure you pick up a fun prize for the winner to take home.

Give thanks in a new way: The tried and true ‘what are you thankful for’ roundtable has been a long-standing tradition in our house, but we are excited to try something new this year. With an inexpensive white tablecloth and fabric markers, everyone will get to doodle and decorate the table with what they are thankful for. For the little ones who can’t write yet, they can draw pictures or ask for help from grownups. When the evening is done you’ll have a fun new tablecloth full of awesome memories.

Share the love: One of the best ways to explore gratitude is by doing something wonderful for someone else. So make it a new family tradition to volunteer together. Serve a Thanksgiving meal at a soup kitchen. Visit with an elderly person who has no family close by. Help distribute food at a food bank. Look into charities in your area that are agreeable to having kids help and volunteer, and get helping, together.

Creating lasting memories, giving thanks, and eating and sharing delicious food is exactly what Thanksgiving should be about. With these new family traditions in our pocket, we can’t wait for Turkey Day! Happy Thanksgiving!

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