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Most families have their “ways” of doing things around the the holidays. Holiday traditions have a certain nostalgia factor that just comes with this time of the year and there’s something about them that make the holidays magical.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite holiday traditions as well as a few new ones we are going to try out this year. Hopefully you may find one or two worth stealing that will make the holiday season just a little more festivity and filled with joy!

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 1. Host or attend a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

This is the one tradition that my family along with most families partake in for Thanksgiving.

Traditionally, a Thanksgiving turkey is served with a turkey along with all the sides: cranberries, green bean casserole, stuffing, candied yams and mashed potatoes & gravy.

You can of course get a little crazy with variations of these dishes…there are now things like doing a deep-fried turkey (which I heard is quite delicious), vegetarian options like tofurkey or my aunts variation of a cranberry dish called cranberry mold (despite the name, it’s quite yummy).

Not much of a chef or you don’t have family around? Not a problem….many restaurants serve a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal or you can even order one from your favorite market (just be sure to do it with enough notice because they tend to sell out when it gets close to Thanksgiving).

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2. Go around the table and say something that you are thankful for. 

This one is an easy tradition to add to any  Thanksgiving celebration and doesn’t take much time or any prep work. Just go around the table and take turns saying what you are thankful for…you will capture the essence of Thanksgiving By being thankful which is what the holiday season is all about!

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3. Make a “Thankful Tree”.

A “Thankful Tree” can be made in a number of ways but essentially it’s composed of “things that you are thankful for” on some form of a tree. It not only will conjure up the spirit of Thanksgiving but it can also be used as the perfect centerpiece or as home decor around Thabksgiving.

You can even use this type of tree as something similar to an advent calendar where you take it out on November 1st and add a piece to it each day up until Thanksgiving.

I have a tree that I use which is part of a manzanita branch that I put upright in a wooden box and filled it with cement. I then spray painted it a metallic color and voila…a tree I can decorate for every holiday. I have seen trees like this sold or you can find anything with “branches” and work with that.

Little slices of wood used to write on work great like these ones that you can then hand from you “Thankful Tree”:

If you don’t feel like making your own “Thankful Tree”, you can even purchase one like this one below:

Is a tree too much work? Grab some pretty stones and a sharpie and throw them in a glass bowl…the options are endless once you start getting creative.

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4. Help others in need. 

This is my first year celebrating Thabksgiving after being on the street. I can’t tell you what I would have done this year if it weren’t for me getting clean, but I can tell you that the kindness of others around this time of year would have meant the world to me.

This time of year is the perfect time of year to help others. An absolutely lovely tradition would be to volunteer to help others who are not as fortunate. You will be capturing the essence of what this time of year is all about and helping others in the process.

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5. Visit a local farm.

My mom and I did this a few eeeks ago and there’s no better way to set the mood for the holidays than to check out a local farm. Go to a pumpkin patch, Apple farm, corn maze…I promise you will be feeling festive and ready for this time of year in no time! Plus there’s nothing like fresh pie made from hand picked apples or pumpkins!

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6. Play some games.

A common family Thanksgiving tradition in my family is to play games….the games vary year to year from poker to pool but my favorite is the “Thankful Game”.

Each person writes down the thing they are most grateful for and then one designated person reads off the pieces of paper and everyone guesses who wrote what. It doesn’t hurt that there is a prize to be won but it gets people feeling gratitude and having fun at the same time!

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8. Bake cookies.

Theres just something magical about baking and decorating Christmas cookies. As I wrote this, I have two batches of cookie dough waiting to be baked and then decorated tomorrow.

Baking Christmas cookies is a fun activity for pretty much everyone plus people get to go home with goodies!

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