Make New Thanksgiving Traditions

by Kay Lynn

It’s the time when Americans are making plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.  By federal law it falls on the fourth Thursday of November each year.

Most businesses are also closed the following day making it a four-day weekend. I see it as a free mini-vacation!

Thanksgiving tradition

When our kids were still children we had the traditional meal each year.  They alternated Thanksgivings between their dad and I.

Mr. Boomer and I would either host the dinner or go to his brother’s home.  We started making other plans once the youngest was an adult. But there’s no reason we couldn’t have started sooner.

Here are four non-traditional ways we’ve spent the holiday.

Rent a Vacation Home

A couple of years ago I wanted to spend more time with my sons than a few hours on Thanksgiving Day, so we rented a vacation home in the mountains for the long weekend.

It was fun to get away even though I was still cooking and cleaning!  We also spent a lot of time together talking in front of the cozy fireplace, watching old movies and taking the dogs on hikes.

Thanks to internet connectivity I still got in a little Black Friday shopping.


We’ve spent a couple of Thanksgivings cruising the high seas.  Yes, they serve a turkey dinner but also have options for people who aren’t fans of the big bird.

There’s no cleaning or cooking plus you have warm weather and you’re on vacation.  What could be better!  Holiday cruises are popular so book early (or very late) for the best deals.

Theme Park

Yes, Disneyland is open on Thanksgiving Day as are many other theme parks.  Plus, they’re not too busy.

One year we flew on turkey day and then started our park-hopping the next day.  Thanksgiving is a great day to fly as the airports and planes are not crowded.

Visit Relatives

I know that many people travel to see family every year.   It was a financial stretch to do this when we had to buy four tickets.   We only took the kids for Thanksgiving with my extended family once when they were young.

Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving with the California relatives and then I flew on Friday for a family weekend feast.  We’re still planning this year.


There’s more than one way to celebrate Thanksgiving.  You can give thanks from anywhere.

Have you spent Thanksgiving doing something different than usual?

photo credit: alternatePhotography

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BruceBucks October 13, 2010 at 7:24 am

I like the idea of taking a cruise and getting away on vacation. Instead of using two of the days off to just travel to see family, we could use all four days to cruise and relax. That is a good idea.

Kay Lynn October 14, 2010 at 6:20 am

Brucebucks, I hope you consider this type of Thanksgiving tradition. For some reason the prices for this holiday are reasonable compared to Chrismas!

Deedee October 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

One Thanksgiving we met the California family members halfway in Las Vegas. We’re not really gamblers but we did have lots of fun there just seeing everybody, swimming, eating, sightseeing, etc. It was a nice break for everybody. Nobody was the host, so all could relax!

A cruise sounds really fun! I might look into that for next year…

Kay Lynn October 14, 2010 at 6:21 am

That’s a great idea, Deedee. Everyone gets a mini-vacation while enjoying time with the extended family.

iamtheworkingpoor October 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

I work on all holidays. Even when my kids were little I usually had a job on holidays. Sometimes we get together with family after work, sometimes it’s a pan of lasagna after a long day. You can cook a turkey anytime. 🙂

Kay Lynn October 14, 2010 at 6:22 am

Good point about the turkey. I try to buy an extra one during the November sales to have later in the year. One of my sons and I are big roasted turkey friends.

Evan October 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Being married 2 years we are trying to figure out “our traditions” I think with the little one coming things will become clearer. It has been miserable trying to balance The Wife and The Mom! They both cry and I have to deal with it

Kay Lynn October 14, 2010 at 6:24 am

Evan, the best part of having a baby is that you can now have people come to you. Kids are transportable but all the stuff you have to take along with you makes it little hard.

Aloysa October 14, 2010 at 8:25 am

Last year we spent our Thanksgiving in China! In Beijing. We had a Peking Duck Thanksgiving dinner. It was awesome. It was one of the most memorable holidays ever.

Suba @ Wealth Informatics October 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

We will be spending our Thanksgiving in India this year! I can’t wait, going back after 3 yrs. We actually had only 1 Thanksgiving at home that I hosted. The other ones, we always take a holiday together. Meet in a vacation spot and spend time with all the family together, so it is everyone that is hosting. The stress is not on just one person. We have not taken a cruise yet, sounds like a nice idea, will so many options available from LA/SD.

Kay Lynn October 18, 2010 at 6:05 am

@Aloysa: You obviously are fine with doing something different for the holiday. The experience you described in China is incredible!

@Suba: You must be thrilled to be going home after such a long time. It seems like your holiday tradition is to travel; just not always so far!

@retireby40: Great reason to do something different! Congratulations. Are you dining with your family instead?

retireby40 October 14, 2010 at 1:40 pm

This year we will be spending Thanksgiving at home. Usually we fly to my wife’s family for Thanksgiving, but this year we’re staying home because she is pregnant. 🙂

Amanda L. Grossman October 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm


Every year for the last three years we have taken a road trip from Houston to Arkansas to visit Paul’s relatives and stay there for four nights or so –soooo much fun. It’s in the middle of nowhere, so it’s just a lot of time relaxing, spending time together, board games, etc.

This year, we are taking our honeymoon! We were supposed to go to Austria in April after we married…but the volcanoe erupted two days before our wedding:). We are now heading off to Austria over Thanksgiving–woohoo!!!

Khaleef @ KNS Financial October 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I’ve heard of people renting homes for Thanksgiving, sounds like a great idea. I didn’t know that the theme parks would be open, though. That’s a good idea, especially if you can alternate the days of your celebration!

Kay Lynn October 18, 2010 at 6:08 am

@Amanda: It’ll be very different I’d think weather-wise, but I’m glad you’re getting your honeymoon. Who would have thought a volcano could cause so much disruption worldwide?

@Khaleef: The big theme parks are open and it’s kind of nice because people will be there the next day but it’s no so busy on the actual holiday. It doesn’t matter if you have the traditional meal on Thursday or Friday!

SD Kevin October 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Since my family is on the Southern east coast and my husband’s family is in the northwest, we have spent all but one of our 7 years together having friends over who either also have family far away or who do not for one reason or another get along with their family. We are the island of misfit friends – like from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. It’s inexpensive and fun. One of our traditions is to watch Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell – not the Lucille Ball version, ick!. Another of our traditions – started by a vegan friend – was to make most of our side dishes vegan and in addition to a traditional turkey we roasted a Tofurkey. I’m hoping this year since I’m trying to give up meat to go full vegan for Thanksgiving. I think it’s a hard sell, but I’m hopeful.

Laura October 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I’ve finally gotten over the fact I am no longer in Hawaii and now you’ve got me thinking that I need to cruise again for Thanksgiving! 🙂

Joe Plemon October 15, 2010 at 6:52 am

I suppose our traditions, for now, are too deeply rooted to start new ones. Our families are close, so we (about 25 of us) meet in my daughter’s 14 room Victorian house every year. The farthest anyone has to drive is a little over an hour. But you never know…we might initiate some new traditions eventually.

Kay Lynn October 18, 2010 at 6:13 am

@SD Kevin: Love that phrase “island of misfit friends”. I think since California has so many transplants it’s common for friends to gather together each year instead of with family. Good luck on the vegan meal!

@Laura: Well, I was jealous of your Hawaii trip:). Cruises are a fun way to spend the holiday but there are some great alternate ideas in the comments.

@Joe: I probably would never have started making alternate plans if it wasn’t for being so far from the rest of my family. I do like mixing it up and varying what we do each year.

Lisa @ Cents To Save October 16, 2010 at 4:23 am

I think a family cruise is a great idea! You get to spend quality time with family but do not have to worry about cooking or cleaning! Definitely a win-win situation. Might be too late to get everyone together for a cruise, but maybe next year.
Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

youngandthrifty October 16, 2010 at 10:46 am

Cool, you went on a cruise for Thanksgiving? What a unique adventure 🙂

One Thanksgiving I went to a wedding in NYC and ended up shopping on Black Friday- I had NO idea Black Friday was such a big event!

We have Boxing Day after Christmas here in Canada, but it doesn’t compare to black friday at all!

Kay Lynn October 18, 2010 at 6:15 am

@Lisa: Those are the big advantages to cruising with extended family. We have 9 of us on a panama canal cruise and it was fun seeing how we split up into little groups at some ports and did things together at others. There was no pressure; everyone did what they enjoyed and then we shared our experiences at dinner.

@ Youngandthrifty: Black Friday shopping in NYC sounds pretty fun! You’ll have to tell other Canadians near the border to come down for the great shopping that day. Frankly, I like that we can shop online for many of the deals now.

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