Creating New Thanksgiving Traditions


Author: Sheilah Overman, MS., Marriage & Family Therapy Intern, IMF #71336

Well here we are, middle of November with the holidays just around the corner. For the sake of keeping things fresh and different, how about we go about things differently this year? Instead of stressing about relatives, presents, cooking, and traveling to and fro, why don’t we mix things up a bit and go the unconventional route? Perhaps even, create a new family tradition this year!

What I am trying to say is, if things aren’t broken, don’t fix it. However, if you are someone who dreads holiday traveling, despises the repetitive Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing menu, and cannot bare to imagine seeing that relative, then simply don’t. Instead, do things differently for a change.

Yes, there are plenty of great things that come with family tradition, and I am not by any means attempting to take away from all the greatness that come with generational past times, I am merely offering an alternative and stress-free way to celebrate.

Ask yourself: What would make the Holidays even more enjoyable?

I asked myself that question and the answer was clear. I do not want to spend hours and hours driving to my mom’s house. I want to eat something unpredictable and different this year. I want to spend less money.

With those things in mind, I called my sister and brainstormed a new Thanksgiving game plan. Once we came up with a new plan, we proposed it to the rest of our family. A few phone conversations later, I am proud to say that my family and I will be mixing things up this Thanksgiving.

Here are some ideas to mix up Thanksgiving this year:

  • Switch up the location. I.e.: Instead of always going to mom’s house, go to auntie’s house instead. This rotation will allow family and friends to experience a new setting (perhaps a new city) and could spare some people travel time and money.
  • Hold a potluck. Instead of one person doing all the cooking, why not have everyone bring his or her own favorite dish? You can coordinate an email and have people sign up for items so that there is no overlap in main courses, side dishes, and desserts.
  • Destination-Celebration. Maybe you want to use this long weekend to go on a trip with the family? What the heck, why not go to Mexico or Hawaii for the week!
  • Create a Theme. It might be fun to host a themed Thanksgiving party, don’t you think?
  • Hold a Bake Contest. Have people bring a homemade dessert. Showcase the desserts on a table with numbers attached to each dish. Everyone votes by writing the number of his or her favorite dish on a piece of paper and throw it into a hat. The winning dessert gets a prize!
  • Dine Out. Book a table at that restaurant your family loves. No cooking, less stress, less mess.
  • Volunteer. Sign up to help at a local food bank, homeless shelter, or elderly home and give back to those who would really appreciate your service.

Remember, if things could be more enjoyable, then work on getting them to be so. Just because things have been done a certain way does not mean that it is destined to be that way forever. I encourage you to be courageous enough to create new traditions and propose options to your family that will allow for less stress this holiday season. You have the power of choice, and you can choose options that feel right for you.

How will you switch up Thanksgiving this year? If you are keeping it the same, what are some traditions your family participates in?

  1. My family and I always talk about how we’d like to volunteer. This year, I’m going to make it a point to shake up our family tradition and contribute to those less fortunate. Great article!

    • That sounds great Jon! I am sure there are so many ways to volunteer in Hollister. Last Weds I was blessed enough to serve food and clothes to homeless people here in San Diego. I hope to continue to do it again throughout the year.

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