15 things to do with your family this Thanksgiving (besides eating)

New traditions and old, cherished by our staff

By Caroline Mullen

Published November 14, 2021 6:59PM (EST)

 (Rocky Luten / Food52)
(Rocky Luten / Food52)

This story first appeared on Food52, an online community that gives you everything you need for a happier kitchen and home – that means tested recipes, a shop full of beautiful products, a cooking hotline, and everything in between!

If you're not in the kitchen preparing the meal for the rest of your family, it's likely you're kicked back on the couch with a pumpkin ale, snacking on the cheeseboard your host curated. And while Thanksgiving relaxation certainly has its place, there are plenty of activities the whole family can participate in (and we mean besides a turkey trot).

Below, we've gathered some of our staff's favorite traditions, as well as some new ones you can try out with your family this year.

"My husband and I purposely make too much pie and then do pie milkshakes the next day." -Maurine Hainsworth, Senior Copywriter

"My mom and I bake together on Thanksgiving (and also Christmas)! My mom is not much of a kitchen person the rest of the year, but she really enjoys the act of making something special around holidays, so traditionally it's been the only time we work together to prepare something. It's been some of my favorite memories together." -Kaleigh Embree, Senior Customer Care Specialist

Do a mini pumpkin hunt! Just like an Easter egg hunt, but with little tiny pumpkins. It's simple: get an accurate count of how many pumpkins are scattered around, and send the kids (and adults!) off hunting.

"My mom, sister, and I all share the turkey 'tail' before carving. It's silly because it's really nothing, but I look forward to it every year." -Sarah Yaffa, Senior Data Analyst

"With my mom's family we play Kubb (also known as 'viking chess'). So much fun to get bundled up and go outside for a couple of hours for some Kubb fun!' -Sam Brahler, Associate Account Manager

"My dad gets the turkey fryer out and brings it to my aunt's house for the annual dinner. It's like a mini-family reunion in South Carolina. -Katasha Harley, SVP and Head of People and Culture

Sure, watching Family Feud with your crew (and throwing your hands up in exasperation when they don't get the right answers) is a pastime all its own, but what if you pitted two teams against each other in Thanksgiving-themed Family Feud? This might be a game for the ages.

"Incredibly random, but we always watch two Thanksgiving-themed TV shows (from Chuck and WKRP in Cincinnati)." -Kelly Vaughan, Staff Writer

"For the past 6 years since my husband and I got married we typically do a large joint Thanksgiving between both sides of our family. And whenever we host it my husband and I go to the flower mart in downtown LA to pick out all the flowers for the table and then I design the center piece." -Alli Guglielmino, VP, Strategic Partnerships

"My family used to sing the 12 days of Christmas... on Thanksgiving. My grandma had little sheets of paper with the different parts and would hand them out to everyone—they were probably printed 40+ years ago." -Anna Graney, Project Manager, Brand Creative

Corn hole is definitely an American summer tradition, but it's also perfect for a fall tradition. Crisp air and family teams make this game all the more interesting.

"Since I was a baby, the tradition passed down from my Father's (Italian) side of the family is that the kids make pizza on Thanksgiving eve, supervised by the Dads, while the Moms are busy prepping for the big day. It kept us busy and fed us dinner! My sister and brother continue this with their kids and families as well!" -Liz Fodera, Senior Director, Category Management

"We do Tom Hanksgiving all through November, in which we watch only Tom Hanks movies." -Josh Dion, Senior Video Editor

What better time to research your family tree than Thanksgiving? You can sign up for a service like Ancestry, or if your family hasn't jumped on the 23&Me train yet, it's the perfect time to find out what you're all (literally) made of.

"We always watch the Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving episode!" -Rebecca Firkser, Assigning Editor


Caroline Mullen

MORE FROM Caroline Mullen


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