Thanksgiving Dishes & Traditions | How to Make Your Own

Pecan Grove styled shoot-25.jpg

Ahhh, the sights and smells of Thanksgiving.

The family is in town, taste buds are satisfied and stomachs are overstuffed. Ham, stuffing and pumpkin pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner the entire week after. There’s a common idea of what thanksgiving looks like for each family, but how is your Thanksgiving unique to yours?

We’re excited to share with you some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes and traditions and how to apply it to your own family!

With Thanksgiving being just a couple weeks away (WHAT? Anyone else wondering how it came so quickly this year??), let’s start with the drool worthy dishes!

Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

Broccoli, rice & cheese casserole

This one has been in my family for as long as I can remember. For me, a thanksgiving meal is not complete without it. That creamy cheese that just perfectly meshes together the soft broccoli and rice melts in my mouth with every bite.

Corn Souffle

This ain’t your regular corn bread. It is SO. Much. More. And it is so darn good, y’all. The sweetness of the corn is really brought out in this perfectly moist corn bread with whole kernels mixed in. Another must have for me!

Pumpkin Bread

I mean, is it really a Thanksgiving dinner if you don’t have at least one pumpkin something (that is probably my complete biased opinion, because I am totally obsessed with pumpkin err’thang)? I started making this certain recipe since the start of fall and it is completely guilt free and gluten free, for anyone looking for some gluten free desserts for Thanksgiving!

Are you trying to add something new to your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner? Or in a season where you’re starting from scratch and aren’t sure where to start for Thanksgiving meal prep? Here are a few tips to help you along!

How to Plan a Thanksgiving Dinner

Styled Shoot February-18.jpg

·      Pinterest is filled with endless ideas. Use this amazing tool!

·      Get your whole family to join in! If your whole family has a real distaste for preparing thanksgiving food, but one of your kiddos shows an interest, make it a special bonding time with them! It will make them feel important and create a memory they will cherish every year.

·      Don’t be afraid to use someone else’s recipe!

·      Put your prepared meals into pretty dishes! If you don’t have any, stop by a nearby thrift store. This is an affordable way to make your Thanksgiving meal feel even more special.

·      See what you can cook ahead of time, and be sure to know how much time each dish will take.

Our Spare Change Lifestyle Shoot  (92 of 107).jpg

·      Assign someone to set the table. If you have a spouse, child, or another family member that loves to be creative, assign them this task. It helps set the atmosphere and takes one thing off of your to-do list!


Now that your meal prepping is in order, have you been looking for ways to make Thanksgiving and the holidays memorable beyond just the food?

I’ve always loved and looked forward to Thanksgiving dinner, but the traditions that I’ve known for years passed on through my family and the ones that have been adopted from my husband’s side of the family have made some of my most favorite memories!


Some of my and my husband’s traditions surrounding the autumn season, old and new, include:

·      Making a pot of chili and turning on a Christmas movie on the first day of fall.

·      Decorating for Christmas on Halloween (we’re kind of obsessed with Christmas ;)).

·      Black Friday Shopping!

Because the idea of Black Friday Shopping can sound dangerous and terrifying, I thought it might be fun to give you a run down of the way my family has done it. We’ve done lots of trial and error to establish a groove that is SO fun for everyone and not the wait-in-line-for-hours-while-being-trampled-by-crazy-people thing.

So here we go!


After everyone has taken a few hours “nap” on Thanksgiving evening from our food coma, we wake up around 3-4am and pile together in a couple cars.

Our first stop? Target.

Seeing what smaller items (like movies, clothing, accessories, etc.) are left over from the midnight trampling is always fun because:

·      You can find some great stocking stuffers

·      There is hardly anyone left in the store

·      Most Targets have a Starbucks in store

·      Seeing everyone on very little sleep and a whole lot of caffeine is a magnificent and hilarious combination.

Next stop: Chick-Fil-A.

I don’t know how we’re all still hungry at this point, but we are. And a Chick-Fil-A is right by the Target we visit each year. Some years we’ve even received little stuffed cows as being some of the first Black Friday customers. ;)

Final Stop: Dallas Galleria Mall

After trying different malls each year, this has become our favorite option because:

·      It typically opens around 5am on Black Friday and at this point, most people are at home collapsed on their couches.

·      With it being as big of a mall as it is, it can feel like we have the whole place to ourselves.

·      Each year we’ve been able to find some pretty killer deals for Christmas gifts.

·      A second round (and usually a third) of coffee is easily available with a Starbucks in the center of the mall. ;)

This is my family’s experience with Black Friday shopping and we all LOVE it! This may not be your thing, but if you’re up for it, you are welcome to borrow our tradition. ;)

So now the question posed is: how do you make your own traditions?

Glad you asked. ;)

Making Your Own Family Traditions

·      Choose a date that means something or nothing to you at all

·      What are some of your family’s favorite things to do together? Keep these in mind, and stick a date on it!

·      Mesh two of your family’s traditions together and add your own flare.

·      Make a day of it!

·      Don’t be legalistic about it. Be intentional, but hold your expectations loosely. You never know what life will look like next year, so it’s okay if your traditions aren’t the same every single year.

·      Don’t hesitate to borrow someone else’s traditions! If it peaks yours and your family’s interest, then do it!

See the full sweet Kiltz family session  here!

See the full sweet Kiltz family session here!

Each of these have been avenues that me and Jacob, being a young family, have used to establish our own family traditions.

This should be fun!

The Holidays are all about enjoying your time together as a family and remembering all the things in life you’re thankful for.

So, if each year you’re creating memories that are filled with family and thankfulness, then you’re doing it right! No matter what it looks like.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and Holiday Traditions? We’d love to hear from you!

Want more ideas and tips on Holiday's and other fun things? Sign up below for our Monthly Newsletter!


article by Neeli Brisky