Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year where family and friends get together to enjoy good food, conversation and fun times. Making memories with your loved ones is the most important part of the Holidays and Thanksgiving is often the first big gathering of the Holiday season. Sometimes we have new friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members (like in-laws) and others that share our home and dinner table for a momentous meal. We don’t want to have an awkward experience and might need a little push sometimes to help get the conversation or fun started. Here are some interesting facts, fun, traditions and conversation starters to help make your Thanksgiving fun and memorable.
Thanksgiving Facts you may not know:
- Thanksgiving wasn’t always in November: The date of Thanksgiving has changed multiple times throughout history. It wasn’t until 1941 that Congress officially declared Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November.
- Turkey wasn’t the original main course: While turkey is now the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals, historical evidence suggests that the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans likely feasted on venison, fowl, and seafood during the first Thanksgiving.
- No forks at the first Thanksgiving: Pilgrims didn’t use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. Forks weren’t commonly used in the United States until the 18th century.
- Thanksgiving Day football: Watching football on Thanksgiving has become a tradition for many families. The NFL started the Thanksgiving Classic games in 1920, and the tradition continues today with three games played on the holiday.
- Sarah Josepha Hale’s influence: Thanksgiving might not be a national holiday if it weren’t for Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential 19th-century editor and writer. She lobbied for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday for decades, and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln finally proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday.
- Pardoning the turkey: The tradition of the President pardoning a turkey each year is believed to have started with President Harry S. Truman in 1947. However, the concept of sparing a turkey’s life has earlier roots, with stories suggesting Abraham Lincoln’s clemency to his son’s pet turkey in the 1860s.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City started in 1924. Originally called the “Macy’s Christmas Parade,” it was created to signify the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. The first parade featured live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo.
- Thanksgiving as a national day of mourning: While Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion for many, some Native Americans and their supporters observe it as a National Day of Mourning to remember the suffering and displacement that Native Americans experienced after the arrival of European settlers.
Fun things to do with family during Thanksgiving Celebrations:
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to connect with family and create lasting memories. Here are some fun activities you can consider:
- Thanksgiving Parade Viewing: Start the day by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or any local parades that might be happening. It’s a festive way to kick off the celebrations.
- Turkey Trot: Participate in a local Turkey Trot or organize a family fun run. It’s a great way to get some exercise before indulging in a big meal.
- Cooking or Baking Challenge: Have a friendly cooking or baking competition among family members. Each person or team can be responsible for preparing a dish, and then everyone can taste and vote on the best one.
- Thanksgiving Crafts: Set up a crafting station for everyone to create Thanksgiving-themed crafts. This could include making place cards, decorating pumpkins, or crafting gratitude journals.
- Gratitude Jar: Throughout the day, have family members write down things they are thankful for on small pieces of paper and place them in a “gratitude jar.” Take turns reading them aloud during dinner.
- Outdoor Activities: If weather permits, engage in outdoor activities like a family walk, touch football game, or even a nature scavenger hunt.
- Board Games or Puzzles: Bring out board games or work on a challenging puzzle together. It’s a great way to have fun and bond as a family.
- Thanksgiving Movie Marathon: Choose a selection of Thanksgiving-themed movies or family favorites and have a movie marathon. Don’t forget the popcorn!
- Photobooth Fun: Create a DIY photobooth with props and backdrops. Capture silly and memorable moments with family members.
- Storytelling Time: Share family stories or encourage each family member to talk about a memorable experience from the past year. This can be a heartwarming and entertaining activity.
- Karaoke Night: Have a Thanksgiving-themed karaoke night with songs related to gratitude, family, and togetherness.
- Virtual Connection: If some family members can’t be physically present, set up a virtual call to include them in the festivities. Share the cooking process, have a virtual toast, or play online games together.
- DIY Gratitude Tree: Create a gratitude tree by placing branches in a vase and having family members write down things they are thankful for on paper leaves. Hang the leaves on the branches for a visual display of gratitude.
- Family Talent Show: Organize a family talent show where each member can showcase their unique talents, whether it’s singing, dancing, playing an instrument, or telling jokes.
Unusual Thanksgiving traditions
Unusual Thanksgiving traditions can vary widely from family to family, and people often create unique customs that hold special meaning for them. Here are a few examples of unusual Thanksgiving traditions:
- Friendsgiving Potluck with a Twist: Instead of a traditional potluck where everyone brings a typical Thanksgiving dish, some people opt for themed Friendsgiving potlucks. Each guest might bring a dish from a different culture or a unique twist on a classic Thanksgiving recipe.
- Turkey Trot or Charity Run: Some families and groups participate in a Turkey Trot or a charity run on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a way to engage in physical activity before the big feast and often supports charitable causes.
- Thanksgiving Tree: Create a Thanksgiving tree by collecting branches and placing them in a vase. Throughout November, family members can write things they are thankful for on paper leaves and hang them on the tree. It’s a visual representation of gratitude.
- Dinner in the Dark: Turn off the lights and have a portion of your Thanksgiving dinner by candlelight or with blindfolds. This unique twist can add a layer of appreciation for the senses and spark interesting conversations.
- Thanksgiving Movie Marathon: Instead of or in addition to watching football, some families have a Thanksgiving movie marathon. The movies don’t have to be Thanksgiving-related; it could be a family’s favorite film series or a collection of holiday classics.
- Gratitude Scavenger Hunt: Create a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt with clues that lead participants to items or places representing things to be thankful for. It’s a fun and interactive way to focus on gratitude.
- Escape Room Thanksgiving: Turn your home into an escape room with a Thanksgiving theme. Create puzzles and challenges related to the holiday, and have family members work together to “escape.”
- Thanksgiving Art Show: Encourage family members to express their creativity by organizing a Thanksgiving-themed art show. This could include drawings, paintings, or crafts related to gratitude or the holiday.
- Volunteer Together: Instead of an elaborate family dinner, some families volunteer together on Thanksgiving. This could involve serving meals at a local shelter, participating in a community cleanup, or helping out at a food bank.
- Thanksgiving Story Circle: Gather everyone around and share stories about past Thanksgivings, funny family anecdotes, or personal achievements from the past year. It’s a time for reflection and storytelling.
Conversation starters for Thanksgiving dinner
Great conversation starters can help make Thanksgiving dinner more engaging and enjoyable for everyone at the table. Here are some conversation starters you can use:
- Gratitude Round:
- “What are three things you’re thankful for this year?”
- “Share a highlight from the past year that you’re grateful for.”
- Memory Lane:
- “What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory from your childhood?”
- “Share a funny or memorable Thanksgiving moment from the past.”
- Dream Destination:
- “If you could spend Thanksgiving anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?”
- “What’s your dream holiday destination, and how would you celebrate there?”
- Foodie Favorites:
- “What’s your all-time favorite Thanksgiving dish, and why?”
- “If you had to create a unique Thanksgiving recipe, what would it be?”
- Giving Back:
- “Do you have a favorite way to give back during the holiday season?”
- “Share a story about a time when someone’s kindness made a big impact on you.”
- Travel Tales:
- “What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever spent Thanksgiving?”
- “Share a travel experience from the past year that stood out to you.”
- Family Traditions:
- “What’s a Thanksgiving tradition from your family that you love?”
- “If you could start a new Thanksgiving tradition, what would it be?”
- Bucket List:
- “What’s something on your bucket list that you hope to achieve in the coming year?”
- “If you could accomplish one thing next year, what would it be?”
- Movie and Music Favorites:
- “Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving or holiday movie?”
- “What’s your go-to song or music genre during the holiday season?”
- Technology Talk:
- “How has technology changed the way you celebrate holidays compared to when you were a child?”
- “Share a funny or memorable tech-related holiday moment.”
- Book Recommendations:
- “Have you read any good books lately that you’d recommend?”
- “If you could gift everyone at the table a book, what would it be and why?”
- Hobbies and Interests:
- “What’s a hobby or interest you’ve picked up or pursued in the past year?”
- “If you could learn a new skill or hobby, what would it be?”
- Pets and Animals:
- “Share a funny or heartwarming story about a pet you’ve had or encountered.”
- “If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be and why?”
- Reflections on the Year:
- “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?”
- “How have you grown or changed since last Thanksgiving?”
Feel free to adapt these conversation starters to fit the dynamics and preferences of your family. The goal is to foster meaningful and enjoyable discussions that everyone can participate in. Remember, the key is to focus on spending quality time together and creating an atmosphere of joy and gratitude. The most important thing is to create traditions that bring meaning to your Thanksgiving celebration, whether they’re traditional or a bit more unconventional.
Suburban Insurance hopes you have a wonderful, fun, safe and memorable Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration!