One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions has always been that instead of place cards, we put a black and white baby photo of each person at their seat. This is especially fun when we have a new guest, since we snoop around to find the photo instead of asking them directly. It's a fun surprise and one, I hope, that makes everyone feel included.
Other traditions include going around the room saying what we're thankful for that year, everyone's specialty dishes that make the meal unique, including my dad's chestnut puree and my mom's braised endives, and a bonfire outside to end the night.
This year, I merged some of these traditions into place cards. I made them bigger so that we could place them on the empty plates to make more of an impact on the tablescape, and I structured them like a worksheet. They had everyone's baby photo at the top and then a fill-in-the-blank worksheet where everyone could list what they're thankful for. Since Thanksgiving is always serve yourself, there were no menus, but I did make little cards to identify each dish since many are not your ordinary Thanksgiving dishes.
Unfortunately, due to a COVID exposure, we weren't able to have the Thanksgiving we planned. We ended up eating with just my immediate family socially distanced outside. While it was still lovely, I'm holding onto my stationery to use again. I'm thinking of adding matching placemats and a kid's table sign. An illustrated recipe book is a dream project I'm saving for next year!