25 Fun Thanksgiving Traditions to Start with Your Grandchildren

Every family has family traditions they do on Thanksgiving. Watching the football game or taking a nap after dinner. Some people go to the movies on Thanksgiving night. Others spend the rest of the day preparing for that big black Friday shopping blitz. Instead of doing the traditional things this Thanksgiving, start some new traditions with your grandchildren.

1. Pajama Party

Have the kids over for a sleepover on Thanksgiving night. Plan a light meal for later in the evening or take leftovers home and then curl up and watch some of their favorite movies and drink hot cocoa.

2. Take Them Christmas Shopping

Woman carrying shopping bags

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Give them each a selected amount of money and take them shopping for their parents. They will love being able to pick out gifts and helping you wrap them later. Shopping in person can be hectic and sometimes dangerous. To make things even easier, shop with them online and have the packages delivered to your house.

3. Go Out of Town

Look up some free and kid-friendly attractions in your state or the next state over, and go on a brief road trip. This will be good for everyone to get away and relax.

4. Make Breakfast Together

The day after Thanksgiving, make breakfast together with your grands. Waffles and pancakes are quick and easy, or you could even look up some “overnight” recipes that you can make the night before, things like “overnight” breakfast enchiladas or “overnight” oatmeal in the crock pot. They could even mix up overnight oats for the refrigerator.

5. Bake Cookies Together

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’Tis the season for holiday baking. Pick out some no-bake cookie recipes for little bakers, or measure everything and let them pour and mix everything. For older bakers, you can pick out some oven-baked cookies. To make things even more special, teach them to make a family cookie recipe. My Mim’s buttermilk cookie recipe was always a favorite.

6. Make Ornaments Together

Gather all kinds of craft items and make homemade Christmas ornaments. You can find tons of ideas on Pinterest for this.

7. Have a Christmas Movie Theme Day

Plan a whole day around your grandchild’s favorite Christmas movie. For example, if they love How the Grinch Stole Christmas, you can make Grinch pancakes (green-colored pancakes) for breakfast while wearing Grinch pajamas.

Then, you can sit and watch the movie featuring Jim Carey (2000). After that, you can eat something green for lunch. Then, make a Grinch craft or two. After that, you can watch the original cartoon. Next, eat dinner (which can be something green or not). Maybe make some Grinch cookies. Lastly, you can watch Dr. Suess’s The Grinch (2018) or read the book before bedtime. Once again, you can find all kinds of Grinch food and craft ideas on Pinterest. This movie is a favorite in our family. My aunt loved it, and her granddaughter loves it, too.

8. Decorate the Christmas Tree

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In our home, the Christmas trees go up the day after Thanksgiving. If this is you, too, start a tradition by having your grandchildren help you decorate. If you make homemade ornaments, make enough so that they can hang some on your tree and take some home.

9. Decorate the House

Let your grandchildren help you decorate your home for Christmas.

10. Have a Dance Party

Put on some holiday tunes and have a fun dance party.

11. Cook Dinner Together

Choose a dish and let your grandchildren help you cook. Invite immediate family members over to eat with you. Instead of making dessert, have them bring over any leftover desserts from Thanksgiving.

12. Break the Wishbone

If you are hosting Thanksgiving, break the wishbone with them. Whoever gets the wish also gets served dessert first.

13. Share Stories

As a grandparent, share your stories from your childhood at Thanksgiving, including family history and traditions.

Kids with grandparents at Thanksgiving dinner table

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14. Make Decorations

If you are hosting Thanksgiving, have your grandkids come over and make decorations. You can find all kinds of ideas on Pinterest and social media, like construction paper garlands or paper plate wreaths.

15. Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Gather around Thanksgiving night with dessert and watch this television classic.

16. Volunteer

If you have older grandkids, take them to volunteer somewhere, like a soup kitchen, to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate. You could also volunteer at a homeless shelter or animal shelter. This is a great way to teach kids to be thankful for all they have in their lives and a great way to spend your Thanksgiving afternoon or evening.

Related: 20 Ways Couples Can Serve Others This Thanksgiving  

17. Do a Turkey Trot

If you are athletic, sign you and your grandkids up to do a walk or run for charity. This is a great way to get your turkey day off on the right foot by exercising before the enormous meal. You can also teach your grandkids the importance of exercising and staying active at any age.

18. Write Gratitude Cards

Join your grandkids in writing gratitude cards by thanking someone in their life who has made a difference. This can be parents, teachers, friends, or even you. When they are done, they can either mail them or pass them out personally.

19. Take a Walk

Pick up your grandkids on Thanksgiving morning and go for a walk. Taking a lap or two around the block will get everyone’s blood moving, help give them mental clarity, and you can chat about what’s going on in your grandkids’ lives.

Family on autumn walk in leaves

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20. Play Some Board Games

Dig out the board games and have a marathon with your grandkids on Thanksgiving afternoon. You will probably play everything from Candy Land to Scrabble to, maybe even Monopoly, depending on the age group.

21. Craft a Family Tree

Print off a template of a large tree. Using your grandkids’ fingers, make leaves and write a family member next to each one to make your family tree. Kids will love knowing where they came from and how their family fits together.

22. Do a Puzzle

Have your older grandkids either start a puzzle with you or help finish the one you are working on. If you and your younger grandchildren love puzzles, have them bring some of theirs over to play with and put together.

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23. Go Through Old Photo Albums

Break out the old photo albums and show your grandkids pictures of their family members when they were kids. They will love seeing their parents when they were young. If you have old family photos scanned into your computer and labeled by folder, that works too.

24. Write a Journal

If you have a grandchild interested in you, write a journal for them and tell them the story as you are writing. You can work on this journal throughout the year, but always make sure you add a special story as a Thanksgiving tradition. You can write about anything: where you were born, your childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood, how you met your spouse, funny stories about their parents, etc. The sky is the limit of all the stories you could tell from your life.

25. Have a Mini Pumpkin Hunt

Buy some miniature pumpkins, hide them all around your backyard, and let your grandchildren find them. When they are done, they can either decorate them or help you make mini pies or a small dessert for an 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan.

There are all kinds of traditions you can start with your grandchildren, so choose one or two to do this Thanksgiving and watch your bond grow stronger.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Choreograph


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