Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, celebrations, tasty food, fun tunes, pie, and gratitude. During the course of your life, your family (or friend group) has likely developed some family traditions to go along with the day of the turkey - whether it’s the food you serve for dinner or how you spend your time before (and after) your meal is consumed (football games, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, etc).

Making memories with the entire family can be hard work. Below, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions, from having pie for breakfast to playing games to hosting a potluck and more.

Get comfy and read on for our ideas on creating lasting memories with your family, no matter where (America or elsewhere) you are. Remember to count your blessings, as gratitude is what this holiday should be all about!

Have pie - for breakfast!

Instead of starving yourself until 3 p.m., start the day right (and expand your stomach a little!) with a pie breakfast. Try one of these killer recipes, which, by the way, are equally delicious the day after.

Host a Thanksgiving potluck.

No need to spend hours in the kitchen solo. Everybody's got their superstar recipe: the one passed down through the generations or borrowed from friends that they swear by. Get guests into the fun by inviting everybody to bring their best dish. As long as you've got all the major bases covered, who says you can't have four different types of stuffing?

Kids serve dessert!

Why should adults have all the fun? Get your kids on the action by inviting them to serve dessert. Better yet, let them help make a pie, and serve their own tasty creations (alongside more professional offerings, too, of course).

Thanksgiving toasts all around

A twist on the popular "everybody say what you're thankful for," encourage each guest around the table to stand up and make their own Thanksgiving toast reflecting on the previous year.

Break the wishbone

Here's a fresh take on a centuries-old Thanksgiving tradition: Before dinner, stash the turkey's wishbone in a secret spot indoors or outdoors. Once you're finished eating, send the little ones in teams of two to search for it. The team that finds the hidden wishbone not only gets to break it, but can also skip the line for dessert.

Give Thanks

The true meaning of Thanksgiving, at least in our books, is gratitude and there are many creative ways to express yours. One idea is to cover the table with a butcher paper cloth and have the family write out what they are thankful for in sharpie. You can also hand out note cards and pens, or simply have everyone at the table express themselves verbally. Find what works best for your family and go with it!

Have a gratitude jar

Make Thanksgiving a 365 day affair. Throughout the year, keep a gratitude jar of gestures you appreciate from family and friends you know you'll see in November. Pull out the jar post-dinner and share the gestures that warmed hearts.

Collect canned goods

It's only natural to demonstrate gratitude by trying to give back on Thanksgiving, but instead of volunteering at a soup kitchen—many of which are overrun on that single day, but then forgotten about later—why not invite your guests to each bring canned foods to donate?


'Tis the season for giving—so before you start setting the table and taking over the kitchen, spread some holiday cheer by volunteering for a local organization. If your nearby shelters, food banks, and food pantries are already flooded with volunteers, you could also consider spending a few hours at a local animal shelter, running errands for an elderly neighbor, or organizing a neighborhood cleanup. (To find a variety of volunteer opportunities in your community, visit

Not to mention that you could take advantage of the many virtual volunteer opportunities available: By the People is a crowdsourcing initiative from the Library of Congress in which citizen archivists transcribe field notes, diaries, and other historical documents; Be My Eyes is a free app that connects visually impaired people who need assistance with everyday tasks (think: reading an expiration date) with sighted volunteers through live video chat.

Write down wishes

If you're like most people, you probably share what you're thankful for each Thanksgiving—but the holiday is the perfect time to also reflect on your hopes and aspirations for the coming year. A day or two before Thanksgiving, gather a few nice branches from outside, cover them with gold, silver, or copper spray paint, and anchor them in a vase or pot with stones at the base. Then, as your guests arrive, invite each person to write what they're wishing for on a tag or card that they can hang on the branches you collected. Not only will you have a striking centerpiece for your table this year, but you'll also hopefully have even more to be thankful for next year.

Connect with far away family

One of the few upsides to last year's downtime? There are now more ways than ever to connect with your nearest and dearest—no matter how far they may be. Keep that going this year and invite anyone who cam't make it to your gathering to join in on the festivities...virtually. Set up a virtual happy hour or a video call before, after, or even during your meal with those who can't make it to the table, so they'll feel like they're there.

Share family stories

Instead of fighting your food coma with lots of screen time—from watching a few episodes of the latest Netflix show to mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed—ask your older relatives to share a few of their favorite family stories. The activity will not only fill the evening with laughter (and, possibly, tears) but it will also create deeper bonds that last long beyond the holidays. According to Emory University's Family Narratives Lab, families that know and tell family stories are emotionally closer and report stronger connections than families that don’t know or tell these kinds of tales.

Decorate cookies

Another way to keep the kiddos entertained: Before sitting down to eat, set up a cookie decorating station—including freshly-baked sugar cookies in a variety of shapes (think: turkeys, leaves, and pumpkins), mini squeeze bottles filled with different colors of icing, and a wide range of sprinkles—so that the little ones can get to work after dinner. Even sweeter: Not only will the adults get to relax a little longer, but everyone will also go home with a tasty souvenir!

Exchange ornaments

When Santa's sleigh appears at the end of the Macy's Parade, the festive holiday season officially begins. For those who celebrate Christmas, invite each Thanksgiving guest to bring an ornament to exchange to kick-off the holidays and keep the joy going through December.

Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Just in case you needed another reason to take part in one of the oldest Thanksgiving traditions (a.k.a. the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade), consider this: Following a scaled-down 2020 event, the nearly 100-year-old parade will return in its full form this year—complete with live musical performances, marching bands, iconic giant balloons, decorated floats, and, yes, an appearance from Santa. Plus, you can enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your couch...ideally, while sipping a mimosa.

Watch a holiday movie

Stave off turkey coma by gathering together in front of the TV after dessert to watch a classic Thanksgiving movie together: pick the same movie every year, or have fun letting a different family member choose the film each time.

Play a game

Get your friends together post-dinner for a good-old-fashioned game of charades, sure to bring on the giggles (and impress you with skills you never knew Nana had). Or, try one of these games.

Go for a walk

Walking together after dinner not only burns off all those gravy calories, but allows you to slow down and savor the moment together—perfect for making room before returning home for dessert.

Play football

Thanksgiving is synonymous with football, so even if you're not into pigskin, why not embrace it? Get everybody together for a rousing game of touch football before dinner—guaranteed to become one of the family's favorite traditions. Take it to the next level by turning it into the Thanksgiving Olympics and giving out mini prizes at the end.

Have a pie competition

Everybody has a pie recipe they swear by—so this Thanksgiving, put them to the test with a little friendly competition. Invite your guests to bring their favorite homemade pie (think: vintage chocolate peanut butter pie, bourbon brûlée pumpkin pie, brown sugar apple pie), and after dinner, grade entries on things like presentation, smell, creativity, and, of course, best tasting. The sweetest part, though? It'll also mean one less thing on your Turkey Day to-do list.

Send guests home with leftovers

Thanksgiving dinner is the meal that keeps on giving—especially if, like us, you always end up with a mountain of extra food. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the leftovers filling your fridge, send each guest home with a few leftovers and a couple of recipes for turning them into something new, like a turkey club sandwich or waffles made from stuffing and topped with cranberry sauce. Even better: Ask each person to bring their own container, so you don't spend the rest of the year chasing down your's.

Write thank-you notes

Gratitude isn’t just a concept we should visit over turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. To keep giving thanks even after the holiday is over, place a thank you card and blank envelope at each seat at your Thanksgiving table, and ask everyone to write a note to someone who made a difference in their lives over the past year. As your guests are leaving, collect the cards, and mail them the following day.

Take part in a turkey trot

To start Thanksgiving on the right foot—and make more space for seconds or thirds—take part in a turkey trot. While many local and national races will be held in-person this year, there are still some being held virtually (like the one hosted by the Marine Corps Marathon), meaning you can run wherever you want to, within a given time frame, and then self-report your results. Want to go the extra mile? We recommend still dressing up in silly, themed costumes—just as you would IRL.

The Take-Away

Remember, this time of year is about spending time with the people you love, showing your gratitude, and making memories. The GiftWalker app is here to help with all of your event planning needs.