This Thanksgiving we want to turn our attention to small business owners.  With Black Friday around the corner and Small Business Saturday close behind, we’re wondering if small business owners are getting caught up in the frenzy, or taking time to be present with family and friends.

Their answers may surprise you – or, maybe they won’t.  Here’s what 11 small business owners had to say about how they’re spending Thanksgiving this year.

11 Small Business Owners Share Their Thanksgiving Traditions

John-KinskeyWe host a traditional Thanksgiving meal at our home with extended family. We don’t travel on Thanksgiving which makes it much more enjoyable in my view. After the meal we often attend a movie with our kids or work on a large puzzle spread across the kitchen table. The day following Thanksgiving my mother-in-law hosts a broiled Cajun shrimp feast! I also look forward to starting a good book during Thanksgiving. I close my small business and give my staff two paid days off to enjoy a four day Thanksgiving break with their family. Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year!

John Kinskey, Founder and President of AccessDirect

davidThanksgiving to me is a time for family and for a few days out of the year it is alright to forget about business and just relax. Each year I look forward to seeing all of my friends and family, attempting to cook (it always ends in some sort of disaster), gorging myself on way too much food, and just kicking back without a care in the world – I know that all our employees feel the same so we close our business on both Thanksgiving Day as well as Black Friday.

David Batchelor, Co-Founder / President of

camilleI am the CEO of CDJ & Associates and the “mom” of a gigantic blended family that includes 11 kids, their spouses and our grandchildren. Carving out time to keep traditions is a BIG part of keeping me grounded no matter massive an undertaking I am enduring with the business. Some of our traditions include cooking while listening to disney movie showtunes and later listening to a very specific Holiday CD. As soon as we hear it, it shifts the atmosphere of the house. Before the meal, EVERYONE is responsible for sharing with everyone at least one thing they are thankful for. With a family our size it takes a while to get through everyone, but it is important to us that we remain mindful and are able to verbalize what blessings we have. Lastly, we are from the Detroit area, every Thanksgiving includes watching a Lions football game and given their track record we begin praying for them as soon as we are done blessing our food!

Camille D. Jamerson, President & CEO of CDJ & Associates

stephWhile I might take on a gig Saturday morning (because newborns arrive whenever they feel like it!), the rest of the weekend is mine to enjoy with friends and family. Luckily my industry has a steady stream of clients since babies are constantly being born, so I have the luxury of taking a weekend off to spend with my loved ones. Thanksgiving in my family is all about the food and good company, but mostly the food. Between the turkey, the stuffing and the sweet potatoes, elastic waist wardrobe options are a must! And don’t forget about dessert! Baking homemade apple pie with my mom has always been part of the tradition, complete with a flour-covered face and sneaking bits of raw crust to devour. Nowadays, a nice glass of wine (or three!) with fancy cheese balls, crudités and charcuteries, and a pile of board games makes for a wonderful and entertaining night. The best part? I get to enjoy leftovers for days!

Stephanie de Montigny, Birth, Belly and Baby Photographer at Pure Natural Newborn

Paige-photo-DIn my family my brother, sister & I always spend Thanksgiving with my dad together. For Christmas they go to their in-laws but turkey day is sacred for us. We always go out to eat (vs cook), we go to different cities depending on what my dad prefers (since he treats), we toast our family members who have passed with champagne, the kids play hangman with my husband and we often go to a movie too. We usually all leave town on the Saturday after to beat the rush and try to take the whole week off work. I started my company 14 years ago and have never considered missing the holiday with my family no matter how busy we get, times like this get more special as you age.

Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls

bob-shirillaOur traditions are changing. For over 30 years we celebrated Thanksgiving at home with our two daughters. Both daughters have families and live out of town. Now we travel and spend time with one or both families and four wonderful grandchildren.

About ten years ago we migrated our traditional brick and mortar retail stores to eCommerce. This has given us the freedom to travel.

Bob Shirilla, Owner of Simply Bags

nellieAs a small business owner it is always hard to completely unplug, especially since I am married to my business partner! Our family tradition is to totally unplug, hop on a plane and spend Thanksgiving in Maui. That way we literally cannot escape each other! 😉 We spend the days together going on adventures and on Thanksgiving day we settle in for a traditional meal and start by going around sharing what we are each thankful for. It really has created some of the best memories and I look forward to doing this yearly for many more years to come.

Nellie Akalp, CEO & Founder of

michelle-garrett-head-shotI own my own small business. I always try to wind down on client work by Wednesday afternoon so we can enjoy spending time with the kids and traditions like watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Our family Thanksgiving day traditions include watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade-the kids look forward to that every year. Then, we usually host our family for dinner. We make the turkey and everyone brings a dish to share.

One thing that’s NOT a tradition at our house is no pumpkin pie – none of us like it! So, we usually have a cherry or apple pie instead. Unusual, but we just don’t enjoy the pumpkin. (-:

Michelle Garrett, Owner of Garrett Public Relations

katy and summerMy business partner and I own two small business ventures that see extra activity around the Thanksgiving holiday – our studio rental business, The Studio Hampton Roads, and our convention for working women, the Modern Femme Movement. Our core vision revolves around our commitment to our families, so it can be especially challenging to navigate the busyness of Thanksgiving while also staying true to what’s most important to us.

We commit to unplugging during the holidays. It’s a time to be spent with family, making memories, decorating for Christmas, cooking together and being fully present and mindful of the people we love the most. We cherish the time spent around the dinner table, laughing and relaxing in the joy of the season, get outside in the brisk cold to hunt down the perfect tree, and refresh with later mornings and favorite movie marathons.

To make this special time possible, we work very hard the week before Thanksgiving to accomplish as much as possible before we disconnect and shift the focus fully to our families. The Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving can be especially crazy for us, but it’s worth the extra effort to be able to truly take time off for the rest of the week.

Our most important business decision has been to NOT engage in Black Friday selling. We want to encourage the families and business owners we support to enjoy their holiday time as well, and do not want to squash the holidays with a feeding frenzy of shopping. We instead host our special holiday deals on Small Business Saturday, and even have a few offers that we run as “Small Business Month” deals. This decision helps us to serve our customers and offer special savings to them while also encouraging them to join us in celebrating what is truly important on Thanksgiving – being fully present with family and friends.

Katy Blevins & Somer Chambley of Modern Femme

derekI am extremely excited and grateful for Thanksgiving this year! With having two jobs and owning my own business, it can be difficult to have time to see most of my family. Luckily, I will be able to participate in this year’s festivities! We usually go to Grandma’s and have the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread, pie, and much more. After eating, we usually take naps (Kidding, but I wish). We usually sit around and chit chat, until we decide to start burning off the calories by going pheasant hunting! After hunting we will end the evening with eating leftovers and parting our own ways!

Derek Barnick, CEO of DNA Motivation

ericEvery Thanksgiving when we go to our family feast I leave my cell phone at home. No emails, calls or texts while celebrating with my family. During our dinner, we all write down on a piece of paper what we’re thankful for.
After dinner my uncle reads the papers one by one, and we all try to guess who wrote them. We all take the challenge to be accurate but just opaque enough to keep everyone guessing.

Eric Schlissel, CEO of GeekTek IT Services

While every small business owner has a different tradition, there are some major trends that thread them together.  Things like giving thanks, getting some extra rest & relaxation, spending time with family, taking care to let their employees have time to spend with their families as well, and of course, the food are all on the small business owner’s mind this Thanksgiving.

How will you be spending your Thanksgiving this year?  Share your traditions with #ThanksgivingTraditions.