HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


what is your family's coolest thanksgiving tradition?

What are some of the coolest or most fun things your family does at Thanksgiving?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Last Thanksgiving, my husband, SIL, 2 nephews and I played Guitar Hero while my BIL cleaned up the table. This, I hope, will become a tradition, especially since I did 95% of the cooking.

    1. Whomever gets the peanut butter pyrohy receives a prize. Last year the prize was a case of beer. I didn't not win the prize.

      1. Yeah, well in my family we gather around a dinner and tell them the ways they disappointed us in the past year. I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you are going to hear about it... Then after everyone gets good and angry and drunk, eventually someone challenges someone else to a wrestling match...

        10 Replies
        1. re: khuzdul

          It seems like your family is celebrating Festivus and not Thanksgiving.

          1. re: John E.

            There is no turkey. Instead there is canned ham. It requires no refrigeration for up to 2 years. I find refrigeration distracting. It's made from bits of ham meat held together with aspic. Very high nutrient to dollar ratio.

            1. re: khuzdul

              Look on the can, I bet it is imported from either Denmark or Poland.

              1. re: John E.

                Always the original. Hormel 5lb black label canned ham, inventor of canned hams in 1926, and I believe still made in the USA! AFAIK, in their canned ham family, they only have agreements for SPAM, yet another winsome product, to be produced in the EU for the EU market.

                1. re: khuzdul

                  Ahh, how could I forget Hormel. Your ham was produced 100 miles south of me in Austin, Minnesota.

          2. re: khuzdul

            Hide the carving knife!

            Nothing like relatives that don't see much of each other all year, getting together one day, drinking alcohol, discussing family issues......... and using sharps! Yay. :)

            1. re: sedimental

              Yes, edged weapons can be an issue.

              Also, put all the guns into a safe, and do NOT share the combination with anyone. Just remember to take them out, when Uncle Louie and Aunt Marge have left, and I mean really left!


              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Locking up the guns is great, but it takes about half a second to turn a beer bottle into a pretty nasty weapon. Best to just buy a few cases of cans ;)

                1. re: alliegator

                  As we normally do several wines, there CAN be other weapons handy. Fortunately, over the last 40 years, none has been used - but one cannot be too careful.


            2. re: khuzdul

              Sounds like my crew of origin and my inlaws. I'm lucky like that :) Which is why my very small family of 2 chooses to keep to ourselves for the day, or use the best of all avoidance tactics: vacation! They're the suckers, and we'll be enjoying the tasty treats in Japan this year.
              We need to save our energy for *gulp* Christmas.

            3. Though not a culinary element, we always spend a moment, giving thanks, prior to the meal.


              1. The animals in the household are in costume. Pocahontas, pilgrims, turkeys, Indian corn have all been favorites. Seeing a pug dressed as beautiful Pocohontas is is hysterical!

                4 Replies
                1. re: meatn3

                  Oh, I wanna come to YOUR house :=)

                    1. re: lsmutko

                      Wonder how I'd dress my two min pins ??

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Interesting. My Bulldogs absolutely refuse to dress up, but then a pug does not command quite the same "respect," as a couple of English Bulldogs. Though they love to greet the kids for Halloween, they refuse to "dress up." A few growls, and I get the picture.


                  2. My mom, her father before her, makes sure to tell the youngest at the table, "Your, great, great, great, great grandfather owned a cranberry bog in the Passamaquoddy Bay." when my brother and I were the youngest, it was only 3 greats.

                    1. my sister and I started a tradition years ago of getting up ridiculously early to stuff the turkey, and get it in the oven by like, 6 AM. Then having a Bloody Mary to celebrate. Now, I cook 2 smaller turkeys instead of one large one, cook the stuffing outside of the turkey, and don't need to put it in the oven till early afternoon...but the Bloody Mary on Thanksgiving morning, as I am prepping and cooking, is still delicious:)

                      1. We always have a game of flag football after the meal...we've got some pretty good athletes and some pretty bad ones, but it is always a fun time. Then we go back inside for a second helping of my mom's chocolate pie after the game so any health benefits are negated.

                        1. I was born on Thanksgiving Day and this year my birthday again falls on the holiday, So once again I will make them say they're thankful for me.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: AreBe

                            Now that is pretty darn cool.
                            Do you get pumpkin pie with candles in it instead of a birthday cake?

                            1. re: iluvcookies

                              If the mirliton (chayote squash) are plentiful then my sister-in-law will fix a big Mirliton Casserole. She always hosts near Covington, LA. Here's Emeril's recipe

                              It's better than dessert! But some Fridays after Thanksgiving I cross Lake Pontchartrain and have a birthday lunch at Commander's Palace. With dessert.

                              1. re: AreBe

                                My birthday can fall on Thanksgiving. The last year it fell on the Friday after, my "cake" was a candle stuck in half a leftover pie.

                                It was kinda lame.

                                1. re: lsmutko

                                  That's not so cool :( Both my grandfather and my brother can have their bday on Thanksgiving and I always pull them aside with a gift, so it's their day as well.
                                  Scores me lots of points--your folks could learn from that :)

                                  1. re: lsmutko

                                    Hey, it was the "thought that counts!"

                                    Besides, had that been my lovely, young wife's pecan pie, and I had a copita of Barros 20 Year Port to go with it, I'd have been a happy camper.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Alliegator, that's awesome of you. In reality, the pie presentation was pretty funny, and the unforgivable sin in my family is not being able to take a joke. We always gather at our house on the Outer Banks, since we've all had to move far away from home. So after Thanksgiving, no new food can come into the house, and that's MY edict, since it has to be eaten or packed or disposed of by Saturday night. So I guess I kind of asked for it!

                                      So it was a repurposed pie. A sustainable pie. Like Bill says, the thought really was there, along with virtual poke in the ribs. It was pecan! I probably had a snifter of nice aged sipping rum with it.

                                      1. re: lsmutko

                                        Hmmm... pecan pie, the Outer Banks, fine liquor. Actually, that sounds like the best birthday one could ask for!

                              2. re: AreBe

                                I like your tradition!!! my birthday is just after thanksgiving so I always get birthday wishes with my turkey. :)

                              3. A "tradition" I had to prevent was "find the piece of mixer in the mashed potato" prize. Our hand mixer exploded one year as my husband was making the mashed potatos. The plastic housing broke into a number of large pieeces and he found all but one. A bottle of wine was offered to whoever got the serving containing the large plastic hunk.

                                My cousin found it and he and husband wanted to save it for the following year for another contest. I discovered it in the silverware drawer a few days later and threw it out.

                                1. whomever gets the most sloshed is excused from dish duty...but that goes for all holidays :)

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Haha - last year, my friend (who is coming again this year) got a knife taken away from her as she was dicing potatoes. I realized how much wine she had, so gave her a safe task...sitting on the couch :)

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      That can be a very good thing! Now, our most recent Thanksgiving dinners have been non-traditional, and fragmented, but I still have the task of washing all of the wine glasses. I rinse, that night, and then wash the next day.


                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        And I would put good money on a bet, Bill, that each piece of your stemware runs somewhere north of $70.00? tee hee. I wash my own, too.

                                        1. re: pilotgirl210

                                          And to think we use plastic cups for wine at Thanksgiving. Of course there are usually 40+ in attendance (although not all are drinking wine).

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            I'm just such a girly-girl, John, that I have to have a wine glass with a stem. I don't even like the heavy based ones sans stem that aren't supposed to tip over. And my mother, ever the proper Brit, never had plastic glasses or plates in the house, especially those from Tupperware. Food storage items -- fine. But she would rather not drink than to drink from plastic. (One exception: The family picnic basket, which featured Melamine plates and mugs.) Try as I have throughout life to not be a clone of my mother, I, to this day, despise drinking from anything but glass. Of course, crystal is even better...tee hee. No, I'm not a snob. Really. It's just a thing in our family.

                                            1. re: pilotgirl210

                                              everything tastes better from crystal -- especially the very thin lipped crystal.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                Cannot argue. For me, stemware is very important, and should be good. I'll pay for the "good stuff," as I love my guests.


                                              2. re: pilotgirl210

                                                Oh, I didn't say our plastic glasses did not have stems : P

                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  Now, there can be stemware, that is plastic. When flying, and with our normal batch of luggage, I include two Lexan stems, that assemble. While NOT crystal, they are often better than what we have in our hotel room. When we have the space, I have a briefcase with 4 Tritan stems, and take those.

                                                  Normally, one of the first things that I do, is make contact with the sommelier at the hotel, or resort, and ask for several stems for my room. When we are done, I hand-carry those back to the restaurant, with a tip.


                                                2. re: pilotgirl210

                                                  Even when we host big parties, I refuse to go with plastic wine/Champagne glasses. We had 270 for one of my wife's parties (the absolute max for my house), and I had the caterer rent good stems. That saved me about 3 days of washing mine. Now, some of my furniture did not show back up, for a couple of days, but the stemware WAS nice, and not my problem.


                                                  1. re: pilotgirl210

                                                    Another girly-girl that needs a stem to support her wine glass! Stemless tumblers just seem so wrong.

                                                    My German father hated plastic cups or glasses of any kind and that definately rubbed off on me. We always got out the good crystal for special meals and he had the proper glasses for the various kinds of German beers he kept in the house for guests. He was far from a snob, he just didn't like plastic. He said it smelled funny.

                                                    Don't get me wrong, I have no problem drinking out of plastic in the right setting - the beach, at a tailgate, at a picnic, etc. I just don't like to do it at home.

                                                    I also have a set of those Lexan travel glasses. Many times people have approached me to inquire where I purchased them.

                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                    The best that I can do is 48, and two wine courses, but then my dining room can only accommodate 12, and the "kid's table) 8, so I have them all covered, even with multiple wine courses.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Thanksgiving for our family is at my cousin's house. While it seems stemware is not important, everybody sitting down all at once is nice. They have quite a large house. The record number so far is 54 place settings. They move some of their furniture into the garage and tables and chairs get moved in.

                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                      For a group that size, I'd be inclined to rent the stemware, AND the dishes.

                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                        The hosts used to use old, family dinnerware for the main table but even that got to be too much so now it's all disposable and I don't blame them at all.

                                                    3. re: pilotgirl210

                                                      Well, much of it does, though not ALL. Even for the "cheap stuff," I do the handwash thing, while watching football on the kitchen TV. I will ONLY allow my guests to rinse. The rest is up to me, when I sober up, of course!


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        The only place plastic is appropriate is at the pool. I have crystal on my boat.

                                                3. My SIL having 'more important' things to do than show up. Which is fine by me.

                                                  1. My mom and the three of us girls would always fight for the crispy, crispy bits of stuffing poking out of the turkey. :)

                                                    1. Back in the day my (underage) friends and I would drink Wild Turkey on Thanksgiving eve because of the turkey on the bottle. I brought this revelation to my family shortly thereafter; now we start Thanksgiving mid-morning, when people start showing up to my parents house, with various shots and whiskey drinks.

                                                      Then we go play football. Then we drink more whiskey and transition to beer. Then we watch football. Then we watch football again and transition from whiskey/beer to beer/wine. Then we eat.

                                                      Then we get a fire going in the firepit, sit around and smoke cigars.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: MonMauler

                                                        That sounds awesome... I come from a pretty conservative, in many ways, typical Asian family where a) Thanksgiving isn't really celebrated and b) when i finally got it to be a tradition, it was just cook all day, eat and then sleep. The one thing i've never really done is drink with my family, but i always thought that would be a lot of fun. So whiskey, football, beer, cigars in some sequence with repetition just sounds like what i always wanted Tgiving to be.

                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                          It really is a great time; everyone enjoys it. A lot of my family comes in from out of town, so when we're together we like to indulge a bit.

                                                          I cook a decent amount for my family but haven't really had a hand in Thanksgiving preparations yet. My only responsibility is to show up with a few bottles and try to play nice...

                                                        2. re: MonMauler

                                                          Some good friends and I still celebrate "drinksgiving" the weekend before Thanksgiving. It usually involves a potluck and, of course, requires shots of Wild Turkey at midnight! It seemed like a good idea in our pre-drinking age days. Now it's tradition so we're stuck with it! :)

                                                          1. re: Foodapotamus

                                                            I hope you had a happy Drinksgiving this past weekend.

                                                        3. Thanksgiving has always been the least stressful holiday in my family and the one I would never, ever, ever, ever consider skipping. The coolest thing we do? Laugh. Laugh all day long. We're a goofy family (in a non-dysfunctional way) and Thanksgiving just seems to bring out the bigger dork in all of us. I can't wait!

                                                          1. every year my mom and i make a trip to the gym for a really hard workout between finishing eating breakfast and beginning to finalize the nights meal. makes us feel a little better about all the butter, bacon, sugar, and egg yolks we are about to inflict on ourselves and our family that day

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: mattstolz

                                                              Oh yes, I do the 5K Turkey Trot every year. Somehow I think running for under 30 mins will delete all the calories to come!

                                                            2. My family get together at my parent's house on Cape Cod for Thanksgiving. This year we will have 32 people and we will be short on the turkey plates my great grandfather bought for my mother. Everyone stays until Saturday at least. On Friday night I host a Chinese banquet for family and friends (45!! this year) and my family comes early and helps prep. My nephew just told me that it is his favorite weekend of the year and my cousin's kids call Thanksgiving "Chinese eve". It is nice to have more than just dinner together.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                That sounds like a great weekend! Love the Chinese banquet idea. Hope this year is a big success for you.

                                                              2. No traditions. We can't always play football or go for a walk because there could be a foot of sow on the ground. We did steal all the Brussels sprouts from our next door neighbors a few years ago. They are notorious for planting stuff and never doing anything more. Deer had been eating some of them and the neighbors were out of town we just had to save them.

                                                                1. Stuffing a turkey!

                                                                  My dad passed away last December. My mom's in assisted living so I'm stuck with the dreaded in-laws this year.

                                                                  Two of my five (5!) SIL's conferenced called me yesterday. What would I like to bring? I answered, my Bourbon Corn Pudding. Oh no, you can't do that said SIL #1, a non-ccok that begged the recipe off me years ago. That's MY signature recipe now, she said, since you haven't been around for the last 5 years.

                                                                  Okay.....my parents lived out of state, I'm an 'only' and my parents have been in horrible health for 5 years with me going back and forth all that time or they would be all alone.

                                                                  Fine. I offered up several of my other wonderful, family passed down veggie dishes or a tasty sweet and sour red cabbage with bacon I concocted.

                                                                  SIL #2 said I could bring the stuffing. I replied that she is making the turkey. Why should I bring the stuffing? She replied that she doesn't believe in stuffing turkeys. SIL #1 backed her up by saying it's a health hazard - she is now a H.S. lunch lady now being schooled in government food safety that stole my corn pudding recipe! Both are crappy cooks and this just bums me out!

                                                                  So sorry to say, 'cool' to me this year would be a turkey with stuffing, with all of the browned bits and drippings that make it so wonderfully delicious.

                                                                  For me, this year, I will be thankful for all of the years that I had to partake in the feast the way my family loved it 'just so'. I will remember my loved ones...

                                                                  ...but dammit, stuff the turkey!

                                                                  P.S. I'll make a double batch of Stove Top Stuffing. That'll make them happy campers.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: justalex

                                                                    i'm sorry for your loss of your father, and sad for your mom's situation. i wish you peace. my advice, just treat the turkeys in your family as if you were participating in the event as research for a screenplay. trust me, it makes for a very interesting experience!

                                                                    and give yourself time alone to grieve for lost loved ones and memories of happy times together.

                                                                    finally, the stovetop cornbread stuffing is the one i'd recommend! ;-).

                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                      I love your researching a screenplay idea I will have to use it myself.

                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                        Thanks for your sympathy alkapal. I will keep the screenplay idea in mind most definitely.

                                                                        I'll be sure to use the cornbread style to make it extra special. ;)

                                                                    2. We get together for "thanksmas" the Saturday after thanksgiving every year. Because my grandparents used to go to FL each year the week after thanksgiving, this was our 1 big holiday together with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. We exchanged presents and ate turkey and acted goofy. We still get together, but the littlest ones are the only ones to get gifts - there are just too many of us these days! And the grandparents won't be going to FL this year. But we'll still get together and eat way too much and act goofy. I have the best family, and I can't wait for next Saturday!
                                                                      Oh - and we make too many pies - last year we beat our old record of 13, I can't remember the exact number but it was ridiculous! :)

                                                                      1. One T-day when I was maybe seven my mom made up a pan of pigs in blankets for appetizers later on in the day. However, she forgot to put them in the fridge and left them on the counter while she was doing other things. My dad, wanting to be helpful, put them in the oven--at nine in the morning. Not wanting to chuck them, Mom passed them out to us kids while we were watching the Macy's parade. Every since then, pigs in blankets for T-day breakfast is a must in my family.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. Our family isn't particularly religious (or should I say, most of them are atheists or hardcore agnostics), but my 91 year old Grandma started a VERY funny tradition at family gatherings recently. She turned to me and said she wanted to say grace. We all agreed (I mean, she's 91 so can do whatever she wants, right?). She turned to me, gave me a fist-bump, and said "Grace!"

                                                                          I almost died laughing.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                            1. I can't believe I am the first with this tradition. We all listen to Alice's Restaurant after the meal. And have to explain what the draft was to the pre-teens.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                that just screams "thanksgiving." LOL

                                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                  I didn't think I had anything to contribute to this thread, but Alice's Restaurant is mysteriously always on the radio when Big H & I pull up to my sister's house. And I refuse to get out of the car 'til the song is over. Which is one of the many reasons we're always late. Tradition! (And...now I have Fiddler on the Roof stuck in my head.)

                                                                                  1. re: small h


                                                                                    now *i'm* late getting off this dang computer because of alice's restaurant.

                                                                                    …as styled by topol.

                                                                                    1. re: small h

                                                                                      > Which is one of the many reasons we're always late.

                                                                                      I think it's because you secretly stop at the closest bar and have a couple of shots before the last mile! :-)

                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                        being late is definitely a tradition with my family for thanksgiving!

                                                                                      2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                        WXRT in Chicago always plays Alice's Restaurant at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning. At that hour, my husband and I are in the kitchen, in the midst of preparing the food. We always listen to it. It is an integral part of T-Giving Day for us.

                                                                                      3. This year, we're starting a new tradition. I lost my dad last Thanksgiving Day, and this year, as I gather with my husband and his family, we're lifting a glass and toasting him. Then eating everything in sight, making bets on the football games and eating pie for supper. All the things he loved to do.

                                                                                        I miss him so.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                          I understand. I miss mine too. It hasn't been a year yet. He loved getting together for meals.

                                                                                          I hope you will be able to share happy memories and laughs when you are raising those glasses.

                                                                                          I am adding another bottle of champagne to my shopping list.

                                                                                          1. re: mtngirlnv

                                                                                            mtngirl, i'm sorry for your loss, and i think that's a lovely way to honor him. we just lost Dad a couple of months ago and i can't yet bring myself to do the things he loved. football was our "thing" together and i couldn't even bring myself to turn on the TV yesterday - i haven't watched a single game since he passed away...next year i plan to watch every one of 'em for him.

                                                                                            i hope your day was filled with delicious food and the sharing of happy memories. [[hugs]]

                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                              Yeah, I remember the first time someone sat at Dad's place at our dining room table, I wanted to push them out of the chair. Now I realize he would want all of us to be enjoying the meal together but that first time was hard.

                                                                                              I missed him yesterday. As much as I love my husband, he can't carve a turkey like Dad.

                                                                                          2. My Mom and I always kick off the cooking by having a slice of the pumpkin pie first thing. And then a beer. Then get cookin'. It just kind of sets the mood. Must pick up some beer tonight. I've already got the pie.

                                                                                            1. Day after Thanksgiving tradition: Pie for breakfast!

                                                                                              There is actually historical antecedent for this, as pie for breakfast was typical among New England farm families.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: masha

                                                                                                I will be eating pie at every meal for the next week or so. I've got half of a sour-cream-apple and half of a pumpkin ricotta cheesecake to deal with. Mr. travelmad478 is not much of a pie person, so I will be eating pretty much all of it myself. Oy. How many miles will it take to run off all of this?