How to Make This Thanksgiving the Most Memorable

The menu is decided, the table set, and centerpieces arranged. You even set your alarm so you won’t miss your favorite TV traditions. And while turkey, football, and the classic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade might look at little different this year, you might be looking for some new ways to make this year extra special.

Here are four meaningful ideas your whole family can cherish this Thanksgiving:

1. Try a New Recipe

Family traditions hold a sacred place during Thanksgiving – and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to cut Great Aunt Carol’s famous mashed potatoes from the menu. But having old traditions doesn’t mean you can’t add new ones to your special day!

Consider trying a new recipe – a fun dish from another country or your best friend’s childhood favorite as a surprise. If that feels like too big of a leap, you can always revamp a Thanksgiving classic, like this hasselback sweet potato topped with a dollop of butter.

2. Personalize Your Table

While Pinterest is overflowing with images of immaculate tablescapes, try mixing it up this year. Instead of reaching for your fancy china, set out pieces with memories behind them.

Share stories of where you were when you got that unique plate, who gave you that quirky bowl, and why your dinner napkins are so special. If you have kids, have them create personalized place cards. They can trace and cut out leaves, collect pine cones, or decorate mini pumpkins. I promise you that will be more memorable than just eating on the fancy plates.

3. Give Your Loved Ones an Important Job

Preparing an entire meal with multiple dishes for many people can easily induce anxiety. If you have guests coming over, brainstorm tasks that you can delegate. It’s easy to get flustered with to-do’s and not want to ask for help. So, think ahead and pre-plan some ways of including the entire family in making the holiday happen. That way everyone can enjoy the special day – including you.

This is also a great way to involve kids and show them that they play an important role in family traditions. Ideas include:

  • Serving dessert
  • Setting the table
  • Pouring coffee

If the kids are too young to handle food, see if they can fluff the pillows or prepare blankets for when people relax after the meal.

4. Plan an After Meal Activity

While you’re digesting your second round green bean casserole, it’s tempting to slide right on over to the couch. Instead, plan ahead to do something together as a family after your meal. The options are limitless, and the movement will help move along your digestion. Just make sure to wait 10-15 minutes after you eat in order to reduce the risk of indigestion or bloating. Here’s some inspiration:

  • Go for an autumn walk
  • Take leftovers to a lonely neighbor
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Write a note of gratitude. Pass around thank you cards and stamped envelopes for everyone to write a note to someone who impacted their life that year.
  • Play a “thankful game” where everyone writes down what they’re thankful for on a small piece of paper. Everyone puts their paper in a jar, then takes turns guessing who wrote what.

The key here is to plan this special activity in advance. This way, when you’re feeling happy and full, you already have something fun and memorable scheduled.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is all about spending time with your loved ones,in smaller groups, enjoying wonderful food, and creating lasting memories.

Taking a few moments to plan ahead can make it even more special. Consider trying out a new tradition this season for an extra special Thanksgiving that your loved ones will surely be thankful for.

Judy Gentner