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There was a time when Thanksgiving was a very staid affair, all the food and decor and traditions dictated by years of doing the same old thing. But in recent decades, we've begun to shake things up more and more. One thing that hasn't changed, though? The need for a good playlist to get everyone in the festive mood. So whether you prefer to stick to the classics or you're looking to set a more playful atmosphere, there are plenty of great songs to tune into from the time the first glass of wine is poured to when the last piece of pie is polished off. Here, find the best Thanksgiving songs for every group and get-together.
"What A Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong
At its core, Thanksgiving is all about being grateful. You'd be hard-pressed to find a song more awe-inspiring than Louis Armstrong's ode to all that surrounds us.
"We Are Family," Sister Sledge
If you're not singing this at the top of your lungs at some point during the holiday, take it as a cue that you need to spice up your family gatherings.
"Where You Lead," Carole King
You might associate this with Gilmore Girls, but Carole King's classic song is perfect for celebrating the ties that bind and the home you make with those you love.
"Take Me Home, Country Roads," John Denver
Whether you have a long journey home or you're staying put for the holiday, you'll find yourself singing along to this classic tune about being homeward bound.
"Thanksgiving Prayer," Johnny Cash
This heartwarming song will leave you feeling truly grateful for what's important in life—family and friends.
"Cooking Up Something Good," Mac DeMarco
This cheerful beat would serve as the perfect background music while you're cooking the most important meal of the year.
"This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)," Natalie Cole
Not dancing around the kitchen while this is playing is nearly impossible. Go ahead, try it.
"Autumn in New York," Billie Holiday
An all-around feel-good song to play while gathered around the dinner table with your loved ones.
"Crowded Table," The Highwomen
While your table might literally be crowded for the holiday, this soulful song by The Highwomen is beautiful on a metaphoric level, too.
"Home," Phillip Phillips
This sentimental pick proves that as long as your family is beside you, home is wherever you want to make it.
"God Only Knows," The Beach Boys
Family ties and relationships with loved ones are complicated, but in the spirit of being thankful, this track is a nice way to pay homage to your support system.
"Sweet Potato Pie," Ray Charles & James Taylor
This tune has more than just another convincing song title, it was originally recorded by James Taylor but later re-created with Ray Charles to produce a more cheerful version.
"I Could Not Ask For More," Edwin McCain
Whether or not you're as blissfully in love as Edwin McCain is in this song, it's a good reminder to be grateful for what you have.
"Pass the Peas," The JBs
Think of this toe-tapper as a little nudge for the person at your table who hogs the sides.
"Let's Turkey Trot," Little Eva
Get ready to dance with your loved ones while listening to this upbeat soul song from 1962.
"You Learn," Alanis Morissette
In case all the time spent cooking and cleaning has led to a little too much introspection, allow Alanis to remind you to be grateful for the (perhaps hard) lessons you've learned this year.
"Stretchy Pants," Carrie Underwood
A funny, relatable ode to the joys of the holiday feast (and the wonders of stretchy pants.)
"I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For," Bing Crosby
This jazz hit from 1942 gives us major holiday vibes.
"Just Fine," Mary J. Blige
A track that makes you want to dance and promotes contentedness? Sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving song.
"Thanksgiving Day," Ray Davies
This soft rock tune is almost as comforting as mom's mashed potatoes.
"Thank You For Being A Friend," Andrew Gold
This classic song becomes even sweeter on this special holiday.
"All That Meat and No Potatoes," Fats Waller
Because meat and potatoes are the most important part of a Thanksgiving meal.
"Thanksgiving Song," Mary Chapin Carpenter
A little folksy, a lot sweet, this is the perfect song for the moment the family gathers around the table.
"American Pie," Don McLeon
The 1971 classic is the perfect song to sing along to with your friends and family gathered close by.
"I Want to Thank You," Otis Redding
Convey your love and gratitude to that special someone with Redding's soulful, romantic take.
"Home," Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
We can't think of anyone that wouldn't love whistling along to this popular 2009 folk-rock song.
"Thank You Friends," Big Star
A rock jam ready made for your Friendsgiving playlist.
"Thanksgiving Theme," Vince Guaraldi Trio, for Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Lure people to the dinner table with this light and joyful melody.
"Thankful N' Thoughtful," Sly & The Family Stone
A funkadelic reminder to appreciate what we have.
"Early Autumn," Ella Fitzgerald
This beautiful tune sets the autumn scene in the most tasteful way
"Cornbread," Dave Matthews Band
Everyone in the family will be dancing along to this happy beat, even after a big meal.
"Ode to My Family," The Cranberries
Some cranberries for your table, some for your playlist.
"Thank You," Dido
Be thankful for all of your loved ones and sing along to this classic tune.
"Celebration," Kool & The Gang
Nothing gets the whole family's head bobbing like this party-ready classic.
"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes," James Brown
Meta for your meal prep.
"Harvest Moon," Neil Young
The quintessential autumn love song.
"Family is Family," Kacey Musgraves
Bring a few laughs to the people you love (even when you drive each other crazy) with this country hit.
"Stuffy Turkey," Thelonious Monk
The perfect jazz interlude for a day stuffed full of turkey.
"Family Business," Kanye West
If your Thanksgiving is full of a more modern crowd, blast this Kanye song and the party will surely get started.
"Everybody Eats When They Come to My House," Cab Calloway
Give the host with the most their props for whipping up all that food with this smile-inducing 1940s tune.
"Thanks a Million," Louis Armstrong
Let Armstrong's signature croon say thanks to those you're grateful to this season.
"The Thanksgiving Song," Adam Sandler
Bring a laugh to your holiday table with this classic from the SNL alum.
"Thankful," Kelly Clarkson
Tell everyone how truly thankful you are with this pop ballad.
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