The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

5 Thanksgiving Day Activities for Families

November 16, 2015

Grandfather and grandson playing footballHaving all of your loved ones together on Thanksgiving Day can be wonderful. It can also be stressful, especially if you are trying to find ways to entertain your guests while preparing a delicious feast for everyone to enjoy.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, you may want to be armed with activities for family fun, particularly if young ones will be present. Here are some tried and true activities that can keep the kids busy either before or after the meal, or both:

1. Mini-pumpkin hunt.

Think egg hunt with an autumn twist. Hide miniature pumpkins and other symbols of autumn and Thanksgiving throughout the house, and also outdoors if weather permits. Before dinner, have the children decorate paper bags for the hunt. Then, either before or after dinner, let the hunt begin!

Flexibility: The child who finds the most mini pumpkins gets (if hunt is before dinner) first dibs at dessert, or (if after dinner) a second dessert.

2. Board game tournament.

Gather your guests around a table or two for before-dinner and after-dinner board game tournaments, such as Clue, Scrabble, or Chutes and Ladders, or children’s card games such as Go Fish and Uno. The Simple Dollar website, among others, has some tips for organizing an evening of board or card games.

Flexibility: Select the games and adapt the tips to make them age-friendly and appropriate for your guests.

3. Backyard football.

For some families, Thanksgiving Day is synonymous with football. If your family is full of football fans, you probably know how difficult it can be to tear them away from the TV on Thanksgiving. A solution: Before dinner, divide your family into two “football” teams, complete with clever names and coordinated team colors. After dinner, have them organize a football game in the backyard. This activity could turn into such a hit that it could become a family tradition.

Heads up: Be sure to let everyone know well in advance so that they can prepare.

4. Family gratitude journal.

A Thanksgiving tradition in some families is to ask everyone seated at the dinner table to share what he or she is thankful for. You can go a step further by starting a family gratitude journal. Here’s how: Before dinner, have the children ask each family member for words of “thanks” and then write the words in the journal. Be sure to include names and the date, and to leave the first page blank for the moment. During dinner, have each family member re-share their words of “thanks.” After dinner, have the children decorate the first page of the gratitude journal, to include the date and location of the Thanksgiving celebration.

Longevity: Add to the journal during family Thanksgivings in the years to come.

5. Thanksgiving Day crafts.

While Thanksgiving chefs are busy, the kids can be kept entertained and out of the kitchen by making Thanksgiving-themed tableware or other crafts to use during the festivities. For example, the children could color or decorate a placemat or name place-marker for each person. Or, you could roll out a long sheet of paper and have the children create a Thanksgiving tablecloth. Many such crafts require only paper and crayons or colored markers. For a list of easy Thanksgiving crafts, visit such websites as

Longevity: You may be able to save some of the crafts for future Thanksgiving dinners, or for illustrating a family gratitude journal.

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Categories: Parenting Tips
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