The best thing about Thanksgiving is that there’s no formulaic way to spend it, and certainly no right or wrong way to do it. Some of our editors pick pasta or Chinese food over a traditional spread, and others have international backgrounds, making Thanksgiving not only an interesting cultural observance, but an oddity. Check out our editors’ varied Thanksgiving traditions below.
A day to hit the grill (and the courts).
For about 97.5% of the calendar year, I’m fairly conservative in my eating rituals—I enjoy food enormously, but I also know what works for my body, and so I routinely turn to brown rice, organic veggies and lean protein. That said, on Thanksgiving all bets are off. I normally head home to Florida where my family’s specialty is smoked turkey on the BBQ, along with a handful of decadent sides and copious amounts of wine and cocktails. It’s a festive occasion, and a rare moment where I truly let myself indulge— we also, as a family, typically run around on the tennis court for a few hours pre-feasting.
-Jess Teves, Editor-in-Chief
A day to start your own traditions.
In my family, we love Thanksgiving, but never really made a big deal about it because I’m lucky that everyone is here in New York. But now that I’m getting older, my husband I are eager to start our own traditions and have been talking about one fun thing we can do every year that’s totally our own. He was pushing for a yearly homemade pancake breakfast (made by moi), but I don’t think pancakes are quite what I need mere hours before an epic holiday feast, so we’re still working out the details.
—Perrie Samotin, Site Director
A day to embrace Friendsgiving.
This is my first-ever Thanksgiving, and most of the traditions are just completely lost on me. I know everyone else will probably be feasting with their families, but I’ve booked dinner with a handful of close friends (read: fellow Australians in New York) at an Italian restaurant I’m dying to try. Sure, it might not fit in with your idea of a conventional Thanksgiving, but I’m pretty sure pasta wins out over turkey any day of the week.
-Jasmine Garnsworthy, Editor
A day to make new traditions.
Growing up, my Thanksgiving ritual was about as Norman Rockwell as it gets—my family would get together, usually at my grandparents’ house in Ohio, and cook every recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook (aka the Midwestern Bible) while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade played in the background. These days, my family is spread across the country (and the globe), so I’m a huge proponent of staying local and having a fantastic Friendsgiving. I usually whip out all of my favorite gourmet recipes, have a friend make a killer playlist, and break out all of the wine. That’s usually followed by a leisurely walk around the city in a vain attempt to burn off all of those carbs.
–Beth Stebner, Lifestyle Editor
A day to honor family.
My mother’s family is Chinese and my dad’s side is Irish, so I’ve never really had a traditional Thanksgiving. My family usually get together at my grandparents’ house in Chinatown in lower Manhattan. It’s a really important holiday to my grandparents, not because of the food or anything, but because family from all over come to their house to celebrate. And we always eat what they want to eat, which is always traditional Chinese food. I didn’t marry into a family that celebrates Thanksgiving either—my husband’s family is Polish and Croatian. Sometimes, I really wish my family celebrated, because I love stuffing and sweet potato pie—no one really cares about the turkey.
-Melissa Medvedich, Creative Director
A day of baked brie, wine, and doing the dishes.
Even though I grew up in Australia where Thanksgiving isn’t a thing, my mum is American, so we always went hard on the holiday (even though nobody else understood why we were making turkey and mashed potatoes in the middle of summer). I moved to the U.S. when I was sixteen, and since then, I’ve usually spent Thanksgiving with my mother, her best friend and her kids. [To us], the holiday means baked brie, fantastic wine, more turkey than one person should eat in a lifetime, and my mother’s legendary Amish stuffing.
But the thing I like the best about these Thanksgivings is what happens when the meal is done. We clear the table, put on some silly music, have some more wine and everyone helps do the cleaning up. Even though we’re all working at a very un-glamourous task, we’re together and happy and it ends up being really fun. Afterwards we all say “Wow, we did this so much faster than last year!” even though we probably never do. This is the first year I won’t be with my family for Thanksgiving, and the washing up is what I’m going to miss the most.
-Alle Connell, Beauty Editor