Let’s be real: Halloween and Christmas tend to hog much of the spotlight in terms of “Baby’s First” holiday experiences. We get so hyper-focused on dressing our infants like plush lobsters, or on assembling the perfect Montessori-approved toy wish list, that we often don’t make much of a fuss over Baby’s first Thanksgiving Day. But we should. It’s a special one, too. That’s why I’ve rounded up some sweet and memorable ways to mark your baby’s first Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is actually kind of a lovely holiday for new parents. I mean, it’s all about gratitude, after all. A what could you possibly feel more grateful for than this amazing, brand new, beautiful and drooly person you’re holding in your arms? Thanksgiving can be a wonderful excuse to pause the daily grind of it all — the diapers, the midnight wake-ups, the teething fuss — and simply be grateful for the presence of this little human in your home. A little human who wasn’t even here last year at this time. What a thought. Plus, Thanksgiving with babies is terrific because babies don’t have opinions on the midterm elections or your new haircut. Which, depending on your family, may make them the easiest person to chat with at the Thanksgiving table.
Below are 15 suggestions for marking this very special first for baby, and making this cozy holiday extra-memorable.
That first taste of Stove Top
Depending on your child’s age, they might be old enough to have their first sampling of some Thanksgiving delicacies. Shoot a little video of them taking their very first bite of stuffing or turkey, or their face upon tasting Grandma’s special chipped beef salad. Then be sure to reward them with a big bowl of Cool Whip they can put their face into. (Safety note: As with any new foods, if you aren’t yet aware of your child’s allergy status, be careful what you let them try.)
Establish a new tradition
Traditions all start somewhere, and this is an opportunity to establish something special your family does every year. Maybe you take a walk together through the woods or a park before or after the meal. Maybe you measure and mark everyone’s height on the door facing. Maybe you write down one thing you’re grateful for and put it in special jar. (Baby can leave a handprint or make a scribble.) Whatever you do, make it about family, and time together.
Tiny hand turkeys, anyone?
If you’re a crafty kind of fam, now is a great time to bust out the construction paper and glue. Every year, you can try a different craft. (Or do the same one.) Bonus: They can all can be saved and used as decorations for the next year. Trust me, way better than an inflatable pilgrim in your front yard. A Little Pinch of Perfect has a very cute design for a handprint turkey, FYI.
Dress your child like dinner
OK, this is perhaps a bit over the top, but I can’t resist. However, if dressing your child like the actual meal feels a bit wrong, well, you could always go for dressing your baby like the meal in happier times? There are loads of hilarious turkey costumes out there to choose from.
Give something back
Yes, your kid is too small to understand the idea of charity. But if it’s something you do every year, you establish not only a tradition, but a lifelong association of Thanksgiving as being a time to not only be grateful, but a time to give back. Maybe you can do a family ‘Fun Run’ for a local fundraiser. Or visit someone who is homebound, and unable to get out to see family or friends. Or maybe you drop off some groceries at a local food bank. Whatever it is, make it about family, time together, and helping those in need.
Make a montage of first Thanksgiving messages
Make a little video of moments from baby’s first Thanksgiving, including messages from friends and family members. Maybe even ask friends and family what their favorite Thanksgiving memory is. This is something that can be enjoyed for years to come, long after baby is grown.
Find your family jam
Why not pick a special song that your family sings or listens to together every Thanksgiving? It can be silly or sweet, whatever feels right. Or, you can go for a song just for kids. Or something by Billy Joel. Or BTS. (Might I suggest “Butter” for a true Thanksgiving theme?) The song itself doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that it’s something that you always sing before pie, or listen to when you’re making the pie, or whenever feels right. The idea is to establish the tune as your special family Thanksgiving song, in honor of your new family.
Craft a special ornament in preparation for Baby’s next big holiday
Get crafty, and make a little ornament to add to that year’s Christmas tree. This can be a yearly Thanksgiving activity, until you’ve accrued a whole set of special ornaments. Be sure to write the year on each one!
Get baby a talking turkey
I mean, why not? This plush gobbler is not only cute, it actually asks holiday questions or suggests Thanksgiving activities when you press on its stomach. Be sure to keep this guy under wraps during the rest of the year,, which will make his appearance every Thanksgiving extra fun!
Make this pumpkin pie game a yearly tradition
This sweet game will inspire gratitude as well as some giggles. Simply pass the wooden pie around the table, and ask each person to select a piece, then answer the question on the back. Questions are things like: “What are you most grateful for?” and “What food are you thankful for?”
Start a Thanksgiving gratitude journal
Get your new family one of these lovely Thanksgiving journals. Every year you can add a photo of that year’s Thanksgiving, as well as what you, your partner, and baby are grateful for. (Baby can leave a scribble or handprint until she’s able to talk.)
No matter what you do this Thanksgiving, just be sure to pause from the Instagramming and photos and general family chaos, and take a moment to take it all in. Take in your new family. Eating pie together, for the very first time. Happy Baby’s first Thanksgiving!
This article was originally published on