16 Fun Thanksgiving Activities for Adults and Kids

Thanksgiving Activities for Families with Kids can be Fun & Frugal.

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Are you looking for some fun Thanksgiving activities for families with kids? A few of these fun activities can really make the day special and memorable.

Even with concerns about Inflation and Covid-19, you can still have a fun, safe gathering, without spending a lot of money.

The activities we plan are some of the best ways to keep kids and parents engaged and looking forward to this holiday.

If everyone or most everyone participates, the fun memories created will last a lifetime.

Whether you are a kid, teen or adult, coming up with activities to share on Thanksgiving is a very doable undertaking.

Thanksgiving is a tradition-rich holiday for many families, but it doesn’t just have to center around delicious food only. As you read below, think of things you could do with your family. And if you try an activity or have one that you already do, please share in the comments below!

Thanksgiving Activities for Families start with Planning

The kids have such a good time that they don’t mind helping with the preparations. We start several days or weeks before the celebration. They are involved in planning the activities, cleaning the house, setting the tables, creating centerpieces and cooking the food.

1. Secret Pals for Thanksgiving

We start Thanksgiving week by reading Thanksgiving stories and drawing names of family members for Secret Pals. The object is to do special, kind things for your Secret Pal all week long and not get caught.

The younger kids need assistance in coming up with kind deeds. Soon beds are unexpectedly made, and candy shows up on pillows. Chores are also mysteriously done, and kind notes of encouragement are found in unexpected places.

2. Thanksgiving Morning Fun Meal

Homemade egg mcmuffins - Thanksgiving traditions.
Our Thanksgiving morning family tradition – eating Homemade Egg McMuffins
and watching the Macy’s Christmas Parade.

On Thanksgiving morning, we eat homemade Egg McMuffins (using English muffins, ham, eggs and cheese). We also watch the Macy’s parade and guess who our Secret Pals were.

3. Reaching out and Being Thankful!

We usually invite one or two other families to join in our celebration with our extended family. Sometimes the crowd swells to between 20 and 30 people – but it’s all fun and can be budget-friendly as well.

This year with health concerns, we’ll be having 2 smaller gatherings: one in the morning and one in the later afternoon.

Remember that almost everything for your Thanksgiving dinner will be on sale and available at your grocery store right before this holiday. Read about Thanksgiving Food Deals and Stock up items here.

Thanksgiving Activities for Families include Games

We make our Thanksgiving day fun for kids and adults.

4. Shooting Turkey Targets

When our dinner guests arrive, we go into the backyard and shoot homemade turkey targets (some are metal and others are cardboard) with our BB guns (always careful to keep safety in mind).

Over the years it’s turned into a shooting competition with guests vying for inexpensive prizes and the honor of being the first in line to eat dinner. Our friends and family have always enjoyed this.

Thanksgiving turkey shoot targets on wooden stakes.
These are some of the first cardboard Turkey targets Steve made. We’ve upgraded to metal targets with turkey images glued to them.
Thanksgiving turkey shooting fun for kids
Joe, Abbey, and Roy shooting BB Guns at turkey targets on Thanksgiving day.

The Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

When it’s time for supper, we gather together and give thanks, then eat turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a host of side dishes and homemade pies—apple, pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate pudding.

Related Article: My First Thanksgiving and I’m on a Budget

5. Breaking the Wishbone

Thanksgiving wishbone breaking contents - a family tradition.

After carving the turkey, Steve sets aside the wishbone until after dinner. Then we pick two of the younger kids and let them have a wishbone-breaking competition. The winner gets the first choice of dessert.

6. Playing Group Games

Afterward, we play more games—

  • Whiffle ball in the backyard.
  • Spoons, (a card game with . . . spoons – watch a how-to-play video here), or 
  • Apples to Apples, a fast-paced word association game. Balderdash is also a great game to play with a group of 8-12 people. You will laugh until you cry!

Related Article: Family Game Night Games

7. Build A Pilgrim House

One year, the kids built a “Pilgrim House” in the yard, complete with a fireplace built with left-over bricks from a project. They built a fire and heated water to boil corn. Then they cooked fruit turnovers (a Boy Scout recipe our oldest son learned). Using a tube of crescent rolls, they took each piece of dough and put a blop of strawberry jelly inside. They folded up the edges around the jelly and cooked it until it was golden brown over the fire using tongs.

They also dressed in Pilgrim and Native American Indian costumes for the day. We have a large costume trunk where we keep lots of old Halloween costumes.

They also turned an old sawhorse into a cow with spots and an udder (an old latex glove taped to the bottom) and it was “milked” on and off all day long by many different kids.

Other Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Many of our friends have shared their family traditions with us. They include:

8. Take a Hike – Going on a family hike in the desert after an early dinner

9. Volunteering at the Salvation Army to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to those who are less fortunate. We have a friend who was a single dad who did this every year with his son. One year he met the woman who would become his wife while they were both serving meals on Thanksgiving day.

10. Visiting – Visiting shut-ins in nursing homes or at home. Remember to wear a mask to protect their health. Or doing a Skype or Google Hangouts call would work also.

11. Game – Playing “Pin the Feather on the Turkey”

12. Writing Thankful – Writing what each person is thankful for in your “Thankful Book”

13. Cooking – Letting each family member make their favorite food for Thanksgiving dinner or dessert.

14. Make a Thanksgiving Tree – Put a branch in a pot and cut out maple leaves from orange and red construction paper. Let each person write one thankful thought on each leaf.

15. Chopping Wood. Steve is a handyman and loves doing projects with our kids and grandkids. Last year he pulled out some small pieces of wood and hatchets and let the grandkids chop away (with careful supervision).

16. Pounding nails. We also had a race to see who could pound 5 nails into a wooden log the fastest.

Make Your Thanksgiving Holiday A Tradition Your Family Will Love!

Thanksgiving Activities for Families with Kids can be Fun & Frugal.

Your traditions don’t have to be the same as ours – kids just love having something different that is unique to their family to look forward to each year.

What are some of your family traditions for Thanksgiving?

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