Many of us can describe Thanksgiving in three words: family, football, and food. Thanksgiving is also a time for us to reflect over the last year and to be thankful for all that God has done for us. As we spend time with family, we can start traditions that will help us create special memories with those we love and that will help us have a thankful attitude throughout the holiday season.

Here are five easy traditions you can start with your family and friends this Thanksgiving.

1. Create a family tablecloth.

Thanksgiving TableclothWhile family and friends are socializing, have a tablecloth ready for them to decorate. You can have different colored markers on the table. To make it festive, have fall colors available such as brown, yellow, and orange. If you have small children attending Thanksgiving, have them trace their handprints onto the tablecloth and make turkeys out of them. After they decorate their turkeys, have them write their names and the year next to them. You can keep adding to this tablecloth every year and see how much the children grow from year to year! If it is mainly adults attending your Thanksgiving, have each adult write what they are thankful for, their name, and the year onto the tablecloth. Or if you have a crafty family, have craft supplies ready to make leaves and turkeys to put on the tablecloth, too. This project can be adapted to fit your family’s style. Every year, you can add to this tablecloth, and when it gets completely decorated, use it as a Thanksgiving decoration at your house. Then, start a new family tablecloth.

2. Bake thankful rolls.

As your family and friends arrive at your Thanksgiving, have them write what they are thankful for on small strips of paper. Once everyone has written what they are thankful for, take the strips of paper and bake them into your rolls. You can just simply place the strips of paper in the middle of the dough and bake the rolls in your oven. It is easiest to use crescent rolls for this tradition. If you are baking crescent rolls, simply take the strips of paper (one per roll) and roll it up in the crescent rolls. Once they are done baking, place the rolls in a basket or a platter to be passed around at dinner. When your family and friends sit down to eat, pass the rolls around and have each person pick one or two. Before diving into the food, have each family member, one at a time, open their rolls and read the strip of paper aloud. If you want to make this into a game, after the person reads the paper aloud, try to guess who wrote it. Once everyone has shared what they are thankful for, you can lift these little notes of thanksgiving to God and thank Him for everything He has done in your lives.

3. Play in the Turkey Bowl.

After stuffing your face with all that delicious food, you might want to take a nap. But if you have children, it might be time for a little exercise to get you going again. While some might enjoy long walks with their loved ones, competitive families might love to play a game of football. After watching the Thanksgiving game, get your family members ready for a little competition by dividing into two teams and playing the Turkey Bowl. You can play in your yard, or you can head out to a park or an open field near your home. To determine the winner, play for a certain amount of time and see who has scored the most points, or play to a certain amount of points and whichever team reaches that amount first, wins! At the end of the game, give out some type of trophy (like an old one from your childhood sports collection) or some type of token that the MVP (Most Valuable Player) from the winning team can display to show their win. Every year, just bring the trophy or token back to Thanksgiving for the new champions!

4. Volunteer in your community.

Over the holidays, there are many ways to volunteer in your community. Before or after Thanksgiving dinner, you Thanksgiving Volunteerand your family can serve a Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter or visit the elderly, who might not have family nearby for the holidays, at a local nursing home. If your family will be in town for the week, you can  volunteer throughout the week rather than on Thanksgiving since sometimes these organizations can get a high volume of volunteers on the actual holiday. If you and your family have a busy week planned, host a canned-food drive in your neighborhood throughout the week of Thanksgiving and then take the canned goods to a local food pantry. There are also a lot of ways your family can donate to local organizations to help provide meals for families around the holidays. To find out about more volunteer opportunities and ways to donate this holiday season, check out How to Volunteer for the Holidays and Operation Turkey.

5. Have a Thanksgiving night bonfire.

To wrap up Thanksgiving, end your night by sitting with your family and friends around a bonfire. Bring the pies and hot chocolate outside as special treats for your family and friends to enjoy. Both children and adults will love this! Bonfires are a great way to keep warm and to connect with family and friends you might not see often. Be sure to sit next to friends or family members you might not talk to often throughout the year, so you can catch up! As people get tired, they can say their goodbyes to everyone around the bonfire and retreat to their rooms.

These simple Thanksgiving traditions can help you connect on a deeper level to your family and friends. They can be passed down from generation to generation, providing memories your loved ones will cherish for a lifetime.

Throughout the holiday season, check out our blog and Facebook for more ways to engage with your family, friends, and neighbors this holiday season.