thanksgiving centerpieceThanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and not just because of all the amazing foods. I love having all of our family under one roof. My husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving every year for the past 10 years for both sides of our family, around 30 people. We look forward to Thanksgiving all year long. It’s the kick-off of a month-long familyapalooza!

We’ve been doing this for so long that the cooking part is a cinch. Of course, since we started, seven children and three spouses have been added to the original headcount, and with each new addition, we just cook a little more. We just love the time we spend together on that day. Here are a few Thanksgiving traditions that we do and I think every family should incorporate into the day.

Travel

Road trips to see loved ones are loads of fun, as long as you don’t get on the road Wednesday night (along with everyone else in the country). We live within a few hours of all of our family so it’s not a taxing chore to drive, especially when the reward is seeing all the faces of those you love.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

My husband and I get up very early to get the food started and the house tidy. By the time the girls wake up, we can all sit around in our jammies and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade together. The girls love pointing out the stars on floats and the newest balloons. My husband and I love seeing their excitement.

Going around the table and giving thanks

This is a great tradition for every family to do. My dad has done this with us since we were children. I won’t lie. We hated it as kids. It was embarrassing, but now those are some of our fondest memories. Now we do it at our house. I love hearing what everyone is thankful for, especially the children. It doesn’t take much to make them happy and it instills in them a sense of gratitude.

Charity

Along with teaching my children to be grateful, I want to instill in them a sense of charity. I want them to want to give back to those who are less fortunate. I want them to be appreciative of what they have and care about others. I want them to give to others, so we donate to food drives, and when they are older, perhaps I will take them to a homeless shelter to serve food.

RockBand Marathon (or board games)

After dessert, we have cocktails and play RockBand, all 30 of us. No one is exempt. It is a blast. There is nothing quite as endearing as a 4- and 6-year-old singing "Call Me Maybe" along with their 65-year-old grandpa. It’s lots of fun and it fills the house with laughter. It’s a great memory maker, especially because someone is always filming or taking photos.

Shopping

Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving now, so we leave the kids with the grandparents, and the siblings and spouses divide and conquer the shopping. It truly is a bonding experience to be out in the middle of the night with your sister when you are both slap happy trying to remember which store you are supposed to be at. It also makes shopping for nieces and nephews a lot easier.

What’s your family’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition?


Image via Martin Cathrae/Flickr