Looking to do something different around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year? In this article, we will give you 10 ideas for a different way to make new memories on the most important family holiday of the year.

Every year, families throughout the United States come together on the third Thursday of November to celebrate Thanksgiving. The rush to join families during the days leading up to Thanksgiving creates traffic jams and long lines at airports that only Christmas can rival.

While most of us at Quiring Monuments follow the tradition of sitting down with the family to enjoy a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and watch some football, there are other ways to celebrate this holiday with those you love. Here are 10 Thanksgiving traditions you can start with your family as a way to enjoy more time together and remember what you are thankful for every year.

1. Have a special breakfast

It may sound unconventional but having a special breakfast on Thanksgiving can be a fun way to start the day together as a family. It doesn’t have to include many special side dishes or take hours to prepare like Thanksgiving dinner usually does but starting a breakfast tradition can be a fun way to gather everyone up for a short time. Thanksgiving breakfast is also a way to balance out time with the kids in joint-custody situations, or to spend time with loved ones when the schedule is tight.

2. Give your kids—and your elders and singles who come to share your celebration—a special job they can do every year

Setting the table? Making coffee or tea? Pouring the wine, or serving the dessert? Save some small jobs needed to serve your feast for people who need to feel like they belong. Giving your children a kid-friendly job to do every year creates lifetime memories for them. Giving the singles and seniors you invite to your meal a job to do makes them feel included, too.

3. Personalize your Thanksgiving table

If you aren't planning to post your Thanksgiving spread on Pinterest, why not choose mix-and-match dishes and utensils that connect to a family story. Use the pitcher your grandmother used, or the plates you used when the kids were young. Leave the fine China in the cupboard and use the plates that younger members of your family remember from their childhood, and display age-appropriate decorations made by the children in your family. Even a chipped China plate can have a place at your table if it reminds everyone of a story about a loved one who is no longer with you or who can't share your celebration this year.

4. Go for a family walk

Whether it happens before the immense food consumption begins, or sometimes after a big meal as a way to get up and move again, going on a walk as a family is an excellent way to get outdoors and enjoy the weather together. If you want to really spend the time bonding, have everyone leave their electronic devices at home. Just make sure the burners are off and the oven is cold before you go!

5. Plan a toast

Tell your family how much you love them with a toast. Or celebrate the memory of a departed loved one or friend with some kind words at the beginning of your meal. Toasts don't have to be done with alcohol. On Thanksgiving, serving a favorite pie or a favorite side dish can be the right time to remember someone who cannot be with you.

6. Start a family notebook of thanks

Before a Thanksgiving meal begins, it’s not unusual to go around the table and have everyone state what they are thankful for from the past year. Add to this tradition by passing around a notebook and have everyone write down their gratitude. Then keep the notebook in a safe place. As the years pass, everyone can be reminded of what they’ve written in years gone by and what is most important in life.

7. Play the Game of Thanks

Another option related to stating what you’re thankful for is to turn it into a fun family game. Have each person secretly write down what they are grateful for this year, and then place all the papers into a bowl or basket. Have someone pick one out and read it aloud to the group so that everyone can guess whose gratitude it is!

8. Make homemade place cards

You can always buy beautiful place cards on Etsy, but you can also make heart-warming place cards at home. Have the children who will be at your table trace autumn leaves onto construction paper. Or, if they are inclined to origami, let them make origami turkeys that unfold to reveal the name of each guest.

9. Kick off the holiday season

For millions of families who celebrate December holidays, the end of year holidays begins when guests put down their forks after eating that last bite of pumpkin pie. Don't fight the holidays. Embrace them. Give the children something special on Thanksgiving night to put them in a happier, holiday mood.

10. Leave space at the table

We often give thanks on Thanksgiving for the time we have with our family and friends. One way to honor and remember those not present is to leave a space at the table for them. Whether they couldn’t make it to dinner because of travel restrictions or because they are no longer with us on Earth, leaving a spot to represent their presence is a great way to include them still.

Memories That Last Forever

Remembering loved ones on Thanksgiving isn’t the only way to honor them. Another possibility is to create a custom headstone design in their memory. These unique style headstones or companion granite headstones in Washington can show others how much you care. Quiring Monuments can go through design ideas with you and others to create a custom piece that will last forever. We work with area burial sites such as Sunset Hills Memorial Park to help you throughout the process. Feel free to contact us anytime for more information.