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Thanksgiving Traditions for the Office that Will Last All Year Long

Oct 11, 2023

As leaves fall from trees and the air grows crisp, America gears up for Thanksgiving – a holiday rooted in tradition. Thanksgiving isn't just about feasting on turkey or watching football games; it's a day of gratitude, reflection, and celebrating what life has given us. While Thanksgiving is predominantly celebrated at home, consider the effects of bringing this gratitude into the workplace. We'll offer ideas on incorporating the best parts of Thanksgiving traditions into the workplace. 

happy thanksgiving

The Power of Office Thanksgiving Traditions

We may all remember the lighthearted stories of the first Thanksgiving feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people. However, the concept of Thanksgiving is an ancient one that can be traced to Native Americans and many other cultures worldwide. Native American cultures had a long tradition of celebrating fall and the harvest well before settlers arrived. The one common thread amongst all traditions is the celebratory nature and the expression of gratitude and appreciation. And it is these two concepts that we should focus on when instituting Thanksgiving traditions into the office. 

Benefits of instituting Thanksgiving traditions in the office:

  • Boost employee morale by recognizing their efforts.
  • Increase engagement levels by fostering a positive environment.
  • Enhance retention rates – employees are more likely to stay when they feel valued.

Aligning with's core principle, we understand that a company's most significant asset is its people. We're a company built on the power of appreciation and gratitude. Set these powerful Thanksgiving values at work and see what positive changes occur.   


Ideas for Thanksgiving Traditions in the Workplace

If we look beyond Thanksgiving as just another holiday and more like a sentiment that can be carried throughout the year, it can have a long-lasting, beneficial effect. Here are a few Thanksgiving concepts to incorporate into the workplace throughout the year. 

Potluck Lunches

You can't have Thanksgiving without food! Try having a feast of your own in the company lunch room. Make it a potluck and have everyone bring in a dish to share. Have employees share the dish's history or reflect on their traditions. A potluck is a fantastic way to honor and learn about other cultures, as well as to celebrate diversity. This could be done quarterly throughout the year. 


Gratitude Circle

At many dinner tables during Thanksgiving, a prayer is said. Instead of prayer, have teams meet in a conference room or other area and discuss what they are most thankful for professionally. This can be done randomly throughout the year. It's an excellent way for employees to reflect on professional wins, successes, and growth. A gratitude circle will also support creating a healthy environment at the workplace.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering in a company can benefit team morale and the company at large. HR can organize events for donation drives, local beach or park clean up, create care packages, donate blood, and many others. For an employee buy-in, consider putting up a selection of opportunities for employees to vote on.  

Employee or Team Recognition

Celebrate small victories, no matter how minor they seem. These can be done quarterly, daily, or weekly, whatever is best for the organization or team. Make sure that you show your appreciation and value your team's hard work. This is the most secure route to retaining top talent.


Gratitude Gestures

Heartfelt, authentic gratitude can foster an environment of mutual appreciation. Encourage employees to leave "thank you" notes for colleagues. Or have a dedicated space on the company Intranet where employees or team members can show appreciation more publicly. 

These activities, especially recognizing successes and saying "thanks," can effortlessly be woven into the daily fabric of office life, ensuring the spirit of Thanksgiving thrives all year round.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day 2023 at Work

Come November 24, 2023, many companies will be on holiday mode. Use the theme of Thanksgiving in the early part of the week. Or if many employees take the week off, move events to the third week of November. Organize special activities, perhaps a big lunch or a team-building day, ensuring the true nature of Thanksgiving is felt throughout the office.

Exploring American Thanksgiving Traditions

From the historic first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, American Thanksgiving customs are as diverse. Not all of us celebrate in the same way. 

Typical food traditions include turkey dinner, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and cranberry sauce. Playing or watching football games or parades is standard, as are running in a 5k, taking naps, and expressing gratitude.  

Offices can adopt these traditions by putting a unique spin on them. Consider these modifications: 

  • Setting up a potluck that mimics the original feast.
  • Creating office "parades" that showcases each department's achievements.
  • Joining a charity race as a team. Or donating supplies to a pet shelter.
  • Making donations to a company organization
  • Creating gratitude journals that can be given out to employees


Why Thanksgiving is Important to American Culture

Thanksgiving today is less about harvest time and more a way to honor families coming together and being thankful. Thanksgiving is evolving to be more inclusive. It can be celebrated as open, educated, and respectful, making it about unity and commemorating the power of different communities mutually coming together. Integrating this ethos into office culture can foster a stronger sense of belonging, harmony, and mutual respect among employees. Your Partner in Employee Recognition

Taking Thanksgiving traditions and moving them into the workplace can go beyond a once-a-year event. Create a culture of gratitude all year long and see the transformative power this can have on your company's success. You can get started on your personalized employee gratitude journey with Choose Your Gift. We provide personalized gifts and rewards to show employee recognition and appreciation. As you plan for Thanksgiving and the year, remember that we can help you show appreciation effortlessly. For gratitude should never be a seasonal affair.