12 Moms Share Their Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions That Cost Them Nothing

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in tradition. Most of us surround ourselves with loved ones to enjoy a large meal, sharing what we're thankful for and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Others decide to run a Turkey Trot, or hunker down with their favorite holiday movies. But between the food, travel, and other expenses, Turkey Day can be expensive. That's why Romper asked moms to share their favorite, cheap Thanksgiving Day traditions, because you don't have to spend a pretty penny to make a memory, my friends.

I remember my family's Thanksgiving tradition rather vividly: we'd go to my aunt’s house for a meal and hang out with my cousins. We'd always watch Curly Sue and Home Alone, so even though you could argue neither are "Thanksgiving movies" I generally associated both with the day. And, of course, I'd always watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my mom in the morning.

Now that I’m a mom I'm trying to establish my own traditions that my so, hopefully, will one day look back on and remember vividly, too. While the day centers around eating (duh), I also make it a point to wake up early and watch as much of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my son as possible, and then do at least one craft project with him. We always listen to Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song” and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant", and I think this year I might revisit an old tradition from my 20s and adopt a turkey via Farm Sanctuary. I also watch Pieces of April, either the day of or just before Turkey Day, because it’s my absolute favorite Thanksgiving film and I’ll defend Katie Holmes to the bitter end.

Every family is different, of course, and the beautiful thing about being a parent is being able to decide what traditions work for your family and which ones aren't worth the time, money, or energy. So if you're looking for a cheap way to establish an ongoing Thanksgiving Day tradition, here's what works best for the following moms:

Tia, 35

“Watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and eating the ‘oyster’ of the turkey.”

Shari, 33

“After we eat we always go on walks around the creek or lake (depending where we have it that year), but it’s always so much fun to burn off the calories and still be with all the family then we go back and eat pie.”

Karen, 38

“We listen to Christmas music on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner.”

Jamie, 35

“My favorite tradition is making a delicious vegetable side dish that literally none of the 35 people at my family’s Thanksgiving even tries, taking home the leftovers, and slowly eating them by myself over the course of the next week.”

Arica, 32

“Watching the parade! Best ever.”

Tracey, 47

My favorite tradition is going to my sister’s the night before Thanksgiving for Italian wedding soup.”

Tiana, 21

“We always turn the Thanksgiving Day Parade on in the morning, while we start all of our prepping and cooking for our dinner.”

Abigail, 32

“I buy paper leaves at Dollar Tree each year. Each day of November we each write something we are thankful for on the leaf, and we make a chain out of our leaves of thanks. This year I'm building a giant wreath out of them.”

Katherine, 35

“It's not at all original but watching the parade on TV. I grew up in New York City and would never dream of going in person (think we maybe went once growing up when we knew someone who had an office with a view), and I was surprised by how much I've enjoyed the tradition of watching it with my kids. It's not really my thing at all, yet something really nostalgic kicks in for me.”

Cat, 35

“We almost always end up taking a long family hike or walk between dinner and dessert. It settles our digestion and gets the kids’ wiggles out.”

Colleen, 38

My kids make the name place cards for the table for everyone in the family — and they always turn out so heartbreakingly adorable because they work so hard on them. We go around the table and say one thing we're thankful for as we're eating. We play a big football game in my mom (Nana's) backyard. Two of the kids are always quarterbacks and it's always hilarious.”

Lisa, 49

“A few years back we started creating a Thankful Tree. Just a tree cut out of brown paper and taped to a post or wall. Then we have small pieces of blank paper (leaves). Every time someone thinks of something to be thankful for, we write it down and tape it to the tree. We start about two weeks before, but we ask our guests to write something down when they come over Thanksgiving Day. Also, I always listen to ‘Alice's Restaurant’ while baking my rolls.”