As soon as October comes around it seems the world shifts into full blown holiday mode. There’s turkey day recipes, turkey themed crafts and pumpkin spiced everything.
The age old debate on when it's appropriate to put up the Christmas tree continues as festive music chimes along in the background. With excitement in the air, sharing this season with your newest family members is so much of the fun.
Still, it can be totally overwhelming to manage it all while still teaching your toddler there’s more to this time than planning.
It’s so easy to slide right back into the holiday hustle and bustle each year. And wanting to make a fantastic meal and warm experience for your family comes from wanting the best, so no shame!
But if this year you really want to be intentional about starting some traditions, you’ve come to the right place.
Maybe there are new traditions that you can’t wait to start. Or maybe you want to continue one from your own childhood.
Here are a few new and upgraded ideas on how to thoughtfully make family thanksgivings a time for gratitude and giving back.
Promote Your Toddler to Sous Chef
Scoot on over, there’s a new chef in town. Maybe your tiny tot loved sporting the baby turkey costume, but this year they’re equipped with comfy baby moccasins and an apron.
Being behind the scenes is such a thrill for a little one.
Your busy toddler will cherish having first access to the yummy creation! If you’ve got a curious one who loves getting into things, and frankly needs something to do, here's your solution.
Between the careful measuring of ingredients and learning patience during the process, there’s much to absorb here.
This will quickly become a *sweet* memory through the years (no pun intended!).
Remember — cooking with a newbie, question asking, attention losing and (sorry) sloppy assistant will require extra patience. Definitely don't skip this bonding experience but plan accordingly.
You can try starting with a dish prepared the day before those first few years. Eventually, as the tradition evolves, your once fumbling sous chef will be a culinary pro.
A Thanksgiving Craft That Directs Traffic
Time to remix the traditional and boring task of setting the table.
Tap into those inner Martha Stewart abilities with custom table place cards, themed each year to perfection.
One of a kind and designed by your family’s smallest artist, this tradition can only get better with age. Plus, you’ll have a thanksgiving day craft disguised as a very important job.
You can kick off this unique idea by writing out the name cards, leaving the coloring to them. But as your child takes more ownership and flexes their creativity more, anything is possible.
Saving your name card through the years will one day make for an incredible reveal when the tradition is then passed to your grandkids.
Donate Gently Used Toys
A great tradition that is sure to stand out as the years fly by is the gift of donating. And though your child is the one offering up their toys, this one's for you too.
With your guidance, clear out all good condition toys and clothes (especially coats!) to donate to a local shelter.
Mama, you may feel the need to put some items back. But if your little one is certain that a toy, book or jacket is not getting any use, giving it to a person in need is a great move.
The key here is to let your child offer up the items so they feel the joy of giving back firsthand. And really, it doesn’t have to be a ton of items so long as an offering is being made.
Just note that if you find that the too small baby booties are just too worn down or the books from last year are showing a lot of wear and tear, feel free to mix it up.
Let your toddler (carefully) choose an item or two on your next Target run to donate. In the spirit of learning gratitude, be sure to explain beforehand why you’re shopping for toys and who they are going to. Hint: be clear these are not being played with at home.
Seal the deal by bringing the family together for the drop off. This experience together will give them a feeling of accomplishment.
Anonymously Bless a Stranger
Looking for a tradition that packs a lot of heart? While the cooking and crafts are definitely important and should be celebrated, here’s one that will stick.
As a parent, you’re always looking for ways to teach your children to love their neighbors. And you might be wondering how to demonstrate this to a child.
Fold in tons of joy while giving to unsuspecting neighbors and your children will never forget the feeling. The game is to move sneakily and to let it be a moment they share only with you.
What better way to sew these seeds than on a day dedicated to being thankful?
There are so many ways to quietly change a life. You can send groceries to a neighbor you learned has been struggling. Are you passing by a diner on your way to grandma’s house? Stop in and quickly and quietly cover the bill for an unsuspecting patron.
Teaching your children to bless others without any expectation of praise is a valuable lesson. This exciting tradition is highlighted on Thanksgiving but carries throughout the year.
Table Share With a Twist
A classic Thanksgiving favorite for many years has been going around the table and each person sharing what they’re thankful for.
Taking a moment to reflect on what blessings we each have is beautiful and a grounding moment after a day of cooking and excitement.
Want to take it a step further?
Have everyone also share how they plan to express gratitude within their communities in the upcoming year. Sure, this has ‘new years resolution’ vibes, but it comes with its own flair.
You can kick things off by sharing first. Do you plan on changing your everyday language to reflect more appreciation?
Or maybe you want to be intentional in earnestly thanking people you might overlook — like grocery line clerks and sanitation workers. Modeling this behavior with the accountability of sharing around the table will imprint in your children’s hearts.
Little ones can show gratitude through hugs or sharing their toys with siblings. Maybe they want to own a new chore, like fixing their bed or giving the dog fresh water each day.
They can be as creative here in how they plan to learn and show their appreciation.
Now watch as these heartfelt traditions change not only your family, but the world surrounding them.