11 Best Thanksgiving Traditions from Ree Drummond

Updated: Feb. 06, 2024

I rounded up some of the Pioneer Woman's best ideas for Thanksgiving. You can "borrow" a tradition to help make the holiday special for your family!

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writing in journal
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Make a Plan

Any gathering involving a lot of guests and a lot of food really needs a plan. Start an annual tradition of mapping out Thanksgiving day in advance, including the food you need to prep, how many extra chairs you’ll need and anything you want to plan for before and after the meal.

The Beginner’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner is a great place to start.

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Colorful accessories for Thanksgiving holiday craft - paper, letters, scissors, ribbon, beads. View from above
Shutterstock / Podlesnyak Nina

Craft Together

There are adorable Thanksgiving crafts that you can make ahead with your family to display on Turkey Day—projects like a memory banner featuring photos from over the years, a “Thanks Book” as a gift for guests traveling from out-of-town and, of course, turkey crafts!

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Mashed potato
Taste of Home

Celebrate the Classics

Every year, there are new and trendy recipes for the turkey, the sides, the desserts. But what folks really look forward to are the classics associated with the holiday. Save those clever twists for another dinner party—on Thanksgiving, continue your family traditions with buttery mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles and slices of pumpkin pie. Before digging into any pie, make sure to follow this Ree Drummond crispy pie crust hack.

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Roasted Turkey Thanksgiving Tradition Celebration Concept

Have Others Bring a Dish

There’s no reason to feel like you have to prepare every Thanksgiving course yourself, and Ree Drummond loves that her family members contribute dishes to the meal. What better way to bring people together than by letting them share their favorite side dish?

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Marlon Brando waxwork figure - Madame Tussauds Hollywood.
Shutterstock / Usa-Pyon

Watch The Godfather

Well, that’s Ree Drummond’s favorite thing to do while cooking the turkey! She catches The Godfather and Gone with the Wind every year when they air on Thanksgiving. For you, it may be enjoying the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, Charlie Brown’s take on Thanksgiving dinner or even a marathon viewing of A Christmas Story.

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Sweet Canned Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving Dinner
Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker

Take a Shortcut…or Two

If you are sinking hours into a perfect roasted turkey, it’s completely acceptable to take a few Pioneer Woman Thanksgiving shortcuts on other dishes. You will get to the table faster, and you may be surprised by a shortcut dish that people love. I cherished my tradition with my grandmother: because I didn’t like green bean casserole she would always make a small dish of canned, plain green beans just for me!

Here are some super easy Thanksgiving recipes to make things easier.

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potato is peeled, woman hands, cooking food in kitchen
Shutterstock / Marcos Castillo

Prep on the Monday Before

This may sound like an unlikely tradition, but Ree Drummond swears by make-ahead dishes for Thanksgiving. It will save you a lot of stress on the big day. To pass the time while prepping, pour some wine and throw on one of those annual Thanksgiving movies we mentioned. (What a great tradition to start!)

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Young smiling friends partying together and playing cards
Shutterstock / Lucky Business

Play Family Games

For many families, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without an outdoor game of pickup football. Board games are another great way to bring family members of all ages together after the meal and create a lot of fun memories. Incorporate some games into your Thanksgiving tradition. (My family’s favorite? A friendly game of poker!)

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Homemade leftover thanksgiving day sandwich with turkey, cranberry sauce, feta cheese and vegetables
Shutterstock / Ekaterina Markelova

Cook Extra Food

This is not just a clever way to ensure you get to make yummy dishes out of Thanksgiving leftovers! Having more than enough turkey and sides means you’ll be ready for any last-minute or unexpected guests, and you can also send leftovers home with guests which they will love.

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Sweet potato crostini
Taste of Home

Serve a Festive Hors d’Oeuvre

One thing Ree Drummond likes to have for guests before is a fun hors d’oeuvre she makes only for special occasions. One of her faves to make is a simple mix of homemade, roasted and spiced nuts set out with some cheese and dried fruit.

(Here are a few other tasty Thanksgiving appetizers.)

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Thanksgiving Celebration Tradition Family Dinner Concept;

Share Your Reasons to Be Thankful

A great tradition to start is to go around the Thanksgiving table and have everyone say one thing they’re thankful for. Guests of all ages will be able to participate, and it’s a great way to remember why we gather at Thanksgiving and to be grateful for all that we have.