Planning some Thanksgiving Activities for Families with Kids can make the day special. 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.
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.
Our Thanksgiving Morning Tradition
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.
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.
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 Stockups here.
Thanksgiving Activities for Families includes Games
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.
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
More Thanksgiving Games!
Afterward, we play more games—Whiffle ball in the backyard, Spoons, (a card game with . . . spoons – watch a how-to-play video), 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
The Kids Special Touches
One year, the kids built a “Pilgrim House” in the yard, complete with a fireplace where they boiled corn and cooked fruit turnovers (a Boy Scout recipe our oldest son learned).
They dressed in Pilgrim and Native American Indian costumes for the day.
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:
- Take a Hike – Going on a family hike in the Desert after an early dinner
- Volunteering at Salvation Army to help serve Thanksgiving dinner to those who are less fortunate.
- Visiting – Visiting shut-ins in nursing homes or at home.
- Game – Playing Pin the Feather on the Turkey
- Writing Thankful – Writing what each person is thankful for in your “Thankful Book”
- Cooking – Letting each family member make their favorite food for Thanksgiving dinner or dessert.
- 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 though on each leaf.
Make Your Thanksgiving Holiday A Tradition Your Family Will Love!
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?