Family Tradition: 30 Country Stars Share Their Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions, Including Tim McGraw, Cole Swindell, Chris Young & More

From food and family to football and friends, we asked some of country music’s biggest stars about their favorite Thanksgiving tradition. Check out what they had to say.

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-cole-swindell“We’ve always had a close family, so the holidays—whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas—are really the only times we get to get together as a family. Just sitting around the table, holding hands, saying the blessing and telling stories. Those are the things that make Thanksgiving special to me. Obviously the food, especially being on the road all the time, that’s one meal I get to look forward to with the family. That family time, especially the older I get, is just so important to me. Being with my family and the food is my favorite.”
Cole Swindell

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-shay-mooney“Every Thanksgiving it’s always been a tradition for us to go out on four-wheelers and we go up to my grandparents’ house and we just drive around and be idiots for a while, do some donuts and make some really bad decisions, but it’s really a lot of fun and we do it every Thanksgiving. My whole family gets to come in—cousins, aunts, uncles—and it’s always just a good time to spend some time with the family. It’s great.”
Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-connie-smith“I’m always cooking during Thanksgiving, but mainly it’s about getting together as a family for us.”
Connie Smith

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-bill-anderson“Everybody comes to my house, all my kids live in Nashville with all the grand-kids in the greater Nashville area, and they all come over to Paw-Paw’s house. I don’t play the Opry or play the road, it’s family time. There’s nothing I enjoy more that getting out in the yard with the kids and throwing the football around and then going in the house and eating turkey and dressing. My kids all bring a dish and I do a little cooking, too. We dig in and have a good time.”
Whisperin’ Bill Anderson

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-charlie-daniels“We will eat too much and watch football in the afternoon. That’s always the case.”
Charlie Daniels

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-ty-herndon“We’ve been living in Kansas City the last three years and we just bought a house, so we’re going to be moving this year. I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep any traditions this year. It might be Kentucky Fried Chicken to-go this year.”
Ty Herndon

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-chris-janson“We go down to my wife’s granddad’s farm in Adel, Georgia. She has so many cousins and aunts and uncles. It’s old school because all the guys come in with plaid shirts that are buttoned down and tucked it, no hats. Men can’t wear hats inside. We have a big time at the farm. I love it. It’s my favorite time of the year.”
Chris Janson

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-brandy-clark“I always like to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade. That’s always exciting for me. I get up, get my coffee and watch the parade on a lazy day.”
Brandy Clark

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-clare-dunn“The main thing for us is just getting together with family. I go back to my parents’ farm. The tradition is do the chores morning of, come back in and help cook. I’m a terrible cook, so I usually set the table and do other things. That’s our main tradition, just being together.”
Clare Dunn

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-michael-ray“I wish I could get back to Florida this year, but I can’t this time. All my family gets together—they don’t do anything small, it’s a big event.”
Michael Ray

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-billy-currington“I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in Hawaii once, and I’ll be back there this year. I’ve kinda obtained a family out there over the years and they do the same thing on the island that we do on the mainland with the cooked turkey, but they cook a lot of fish too. It’s a little different, but it’s the same when it comes to family getting together to celebrate good times.”
Billy Currington

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-courtney-cole“This sounds so boring, but it’s not boring. It’s just become this activity where we put together a puzzle. My mom will get the puzzle with the most pieces to put together, the most epic puzzle. It’s sounds simple and nerdy, but it’s our tradition.”
Courtney Cole

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-raelynn“We all get in a big circle before we eat and each one of us talks about what we’re thankful for. There’s like 30 of us, so if you’re really hungry, it sucks. But it does mean a lot because every year there’s something one of our siblings goes through and they talk about how they’re thankful we helped them get through it. It’s such an awesome, emotional time. We go from laughing to crying every year.”

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-tim-mcgraw“Even though I live in a house with girls, I’ve gotten them to where they like to watch football a little bit with me, so we like to watch football and we like to watch movies. When we have time off and we’re all together, the five of us, we like to hang out, cook meals and watch movies. For us that’s a great time.”
Tim McGraw

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-brantley-gilbert“We’re starting a new tradition this year with my wife. We’re going to spend the week at my deer farm in Alabama. We’re liable to shoot a turkey right there, and my wife is a wonderful cook, so we’ll see what happens out there.”
Brantley Gilbert

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-jesse-james-decker“We’ll be celebrating in Nashville with my sister and her husband this year. It’s all about the turkey, and my favorite dish, sweet potatoes.”
Jessie James Decker

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-clay-walker“Since we are transplants ourselves—my wife, Jessica, is from Louisiana and I’m from Texas—and we live in Nashville, we have a lot of friends around us who are transplants who don’t have family here. Every year at Thanksgiving, our tradition is inviting all those people over, so we end up with 40 or 50 people at our home and no one is kin. This year, we’re adding something to the mix. Jessica’s mom is one of 12 kids, and all of them and their kids and sisters and brothers are coming this year, so it’s going to be an absolute zoo with all of our friends and family.”
Clay Walker

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-chase-bryant“I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving in eight years, but this one I will be. We’ve been on the road for a long time, so this one I’m spending with my family. They’re coming to me, so the pressure is on to cook.”
Chase Bryant

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-granger-smith“The main tradition I have as a traveling singer is being home with the family on Thanksgiving. That’s the week I take off from touring so we can be together. Be with the family, eat some food and watch some football.”
Granger Smith

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-deana-carter“My family has been coming to LA—this will be the second annual Thanksgiving trip to California. We get to go to the beach and do a little something different.”
Deana Carter

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-jon-pardi“My new tradition is going to my good buddy’s cattle ranch in Montana and we go elk hunting and mule deer hunting and we have Thanksgiving in Montana. It’s awesome.”
Jon Pardi

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-karen-fairchild“Just being with family after a busy year is great, but we all get together and say grace before we eat. It’s special every year.”
Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-kimberly-schlapman“We gather our whole family together at our house every Thanksgiving, both sides, my husband’s family and mine, all gather in Nashville. We have people everywhere, literally 16 or 17 people, for a whole week. We’ve got kids sleeping in walk-in closets and everywhere. It’s so much fun. It’s total chaos and disaster, but it’s so fun. We cook and eat and we shop a little bit and cook and eat some more. It’s a bittersweet time for us these days because my brother-in-law was killed on Thanksgiving [four years ago] by a drunk driver, but time is good. It heals. God and time, so this year will probably be a little bit easier. It’s still very important that we get everybody together at that time.”
Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-easton-corbin“We always try to get together at my granny and grandpa’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year I’ll be performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”
Easton Corbin

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-frankie-ballard“I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year. I’ve got a big Irish family so this should be a pressure cooker. My mom is going to take over the kitchen. I have everything set up for her. I’m going to stay out of the way and watch my Detroit Lions. For me, it’s all about family. I’m gone on the road so much, I need some family time.”
Frankie Ballard

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-scotty-mccreery“We normally go see the grandparents, switching off between mom’s folks and dad’s folks. This year, we’ll be going to see mom’s folks down in eastern North Carolina in Elizabeth City. Grandma always cooks up an amazing meal, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Scotty McCreery

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-lee-greenwood“We’re so blessed to have our sons home for Thanksgiving because me and my wife travel so much on the road during the year. That’s the time we hold sacred. Last year I was part of Tracy Lawrence’s [Mission Possible] Turkey Fry for the homeless, so I’m planning on doing that again this year. We carve out time, they we carve up a turkey.”
Lee Greenwood

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-chris-young“Thanksgiving for us revolves around the three Fs: family, food and football. The main thing is family. Getting to hang at home and spend time with everybody is the biggest thing for me.”
Chris Young

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-brenda-lee“Before we sit down to eat, we give blessings for our blessings.”
Brenda Lee

30-country-stars-thanksgiving-traditions-2016-canaan-smith“We don’t have a lot of traditions in our family. We do have a big game of football out in the yard, so I guess that would be a tradition. Mainly, we just have a big turkey dinner.”
Canaan Smith

All photos by Jason Simanek except the following: Canaan Smith by Jim Wright/UMG Nashville, Brenda Lee courtesy Country Music Hall of Fame, Connie Smith by Russ Harrington/Marty Stuart Tours, Michael Ray courtesy WMG Nashville, Ty Herndon courtesy Aristo PR, Clare Dunn by Carlos Ruiz/Aristo PR, Billy Currington by Joseph Llanes/True PR, Jon Pardi courtesy UMG, Lee Greenwood courtesy Webster PR, Brandy Clark by Becky Fluke/Shore Fire Media, Courtney Cole by Carissa Riccardi, Easton Corbin by Kristin Barlowe/UMG Nashville