5 Charming & Weird Thanksgiving Traditions We Love

Add these traditions to your turkey day celebration to up the weird factor and make everything more fun.

Published October 26, 2023
Happy father bringing Thanksgiving turkey to the table

You might think you know Thanksgiving with its standard fare of turkey and mashed potatoes, but you don't really know turkey day until you've heard these super strange ways of celebrating. From a whipped cream food fight to an ultra-competitive turkey cooking contest, these are a few weird Thanksgiving traditions that you may or may not want to add to your celebration this year.

80s Paper Turkey Centerpiece

Don't you just love those family traditions that are simply part of the holiday because they always have been and they make people laugh? Our editorial director shared one of her favorite strange Thanksgiving traditions that has been going on since the 1980s.

Her step-dad had a shop that he decorated for the holidays, including Thanksgiving. One year, he brought home a paper turkey decoration that was just missing the clip that would hold it open (it was one of those accordion-style honeycomb decorations that you can paper clip open, so they did). It became their holiday centerpiece.

Now it travels to whichever home is hosting Thanksgiving dinner, getting just a little more worn and well-loved each year. And if someone has the paper turkey centerpiece and forgets to bring it? That's trouble for that unlucky soul.

Thanking the Turkey

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, of course. There are tons of great gratitude activities you can share, and many families go around the table sharing what they're grateful for. But one family takes this tradition a little farther.

Reddit user didyousaypivot shared that their family thanks the turkey every year. It may seem weird, but we think that's actually super sweet.

Annual Thanksgiving Whipped Cream Fight

When I was growing up, we used to celebrate Thanksgiving at my aunt's home in Iowa. One year, we were all sitting around the table after Thanksgiving dinner, enjoying pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream. Suddenly, someone used their spoon to catapult whipped cream at someone else, and the dining room was instantly full of flying whipped cream and laughter.

You might think it would stop there (and my aunt really wanted it to), but this became an annual tradition. After dinner, the whipped cream would start to fly, and everyone would end up covered. Eventually, we moved it outside to save my aunt's beautiful wallpaper from the splatters.

Turkey Day Pajama Day

Family Enjoys Pajama Day

Anyone who has really indulged on Thanksgiving knows the value of a good pair of elastic waist pants, but X user LisaBFAB shared that her family wears their pajamas for Thanksgiving dinner. You can't get more comfy than that, and you're all dressed for lounging after the big meal. She even said they ask guests to wear their PJs if they join them for Thanksgiving dinner. This is one odd Thanksgiving tradition we'd love to adopt for our own family!

Competitive Turkey Cook-Off

You might think one turkey is enough, but it's fun to have a turkey-cooking competition too. One of our staff members shared that her husband's grandma made the turkey every year, but it was always kind of dry. When her husband was in his mid-20s, he challenged his grandma to a turkey cook-off. It was a very competitive family, and there was lots of smack talk leading up to the holiday. On Thanksgiving Day, they each presented their turkey with much fanfare, and his grandma announced that his was better.

Quick Tip

We love the idea of making this an annual thing — cooking two small turkeys instead of one large one and having a competition to see who does it best. It's a great way to try out different turkey cooking methods, too.

Make Your Own Unusual Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving has a lot of standard stuff. Most people eat turkey and mashed potatoes and sit around a table together. That doesn't mean your celebration needs to stop there, though. We're all for adding some weird Thanksgiving traditions to your holiday to make it uniquely yours.

Check out some Thanksgiving day disasters and how we recovered. 

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5 Charming & Weird Thanksgiving Traditions We Love