Thanksgiving is always a great day for family bonding, but it can also be challenging to keep the kids entertained while you’re waiting for the festivities to begin. Try one of these Thanksgiving activities for kids that help kids get creative, spread kindness, and build amazing family memories. As a bonus, everything on this list is 100 percent screen-free!
photo: Priscilla Du Perez via Unsplash
15 Thoughtful Thanksgiving Activities for Kids
1. Decorate the Table
Getting crafty is always a fun way to keep kids entertained. There are dozens of Thanksgiving crafts for kids on Pinterest, from handprint trees to popsicle stick turkeys to adorn the dinner table. For a simple project, the entire family can get involved in, purchase a cotton tablecloth and a pack of fabric markers, and let them go to town decorating the cloth with drawings and designs. Once the big event is over, you can save the tablecloth for next Thanksgiving, making it a fun family heirloom to use year after year.
2. Write Some Cards
Spread some joy and give others something to be thankful for by spending time writing letters to seniors, soldiers, or even your neighbors. Check out some letter-writing campaigns through organizations like Love for Our Elders and Operation Gratitude for ideas and directions. You can also simply decorate some cards to deliver around your neighborhood.
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3. Get Cooking
If you spend a big part of your Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen, why not enlist the help of some tiny chefs. Give kids age-appropriate tasks to help with, like washing apples for a pie or mixing the batter for pumpkin bread. Your budding culinary artists will take pride in assisting and will be more likely to try what they’ve helped to cook.
4. Play the Thankful Game
Make sharing what you’re thankful for a little more exciting by turning it into a game. Before you sit down to eat, have everyone write down one thing they are grateful for on a slip of paper and put them in a hat or jar. Take turns pulling the notes, reading them out loud, and then guessing who wrote what.
5. Host a Talent Show
Pull out that dress-up box and have the kids organize a talent show. They can sing, dance, tell jokes, do magic tricks, whatever they can think of! They’ll keep busy planning and practicing, and then you’ll have entertainment after dinner. It’s a win-win!
6. Stuff It
No, not the turkey. Instead, stuff some bags to donate to those in need. You can stuff bags with toiletries and socks to contribute to a local shelter or check out an organization like the Oscar Litwak Foundation and stuff backpacks for kids in the hospital. This is a great way to give back and give the kids a fun project to keep them busy.
7. Have a LEGO Challenge
Put those STEM skills to work and have a LEGO building challenge. Decide on a theme for the build and set the kids to work. You can appoint judges and decide on the best creation built.
photo: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash
8. Set Up a Scavenger Hunt
Get the kids up and moving with an exciting scavenger hunt. Print or draw some turkeys and hide them all over the house or in your backyard for the kids to find. Whoever finds the most turkeys gets to hide them, and the fun starts all over again!
9. Rock the Day
Kindness rocks are an easy way to spread some cheer in your neighborhood and a creative way to kill some time while you wait for that turkey to cook. Set the kids up with rocks and paint and let them get artistic with their messages.
10. Take a Walk
Getting outdoors is always the perfect solution to burning some of that kid energy. Bring your painted rocks or decorated cards along to distribute in your neighborhood. You can also make a game out of it and ask the kids to find ten things they are thankful for on their walk, for example, trees that provide shade.
11. Plant a Seed
Preparing for a feast is a great learning opportunity to discuss where food comes from and how it grows. Weather permitting, have the kids plant a seed that will grow into something edible, like snow peas. If you’re short on outdoor space or the climate is too cold, you can always start an indoor herb plant.
12. Board Game Tournament
Turn family game night into a Turkey Tournament! Have each family member pick their favorite board game and take turns playing each one. You can keep score of who wins which game and see who the tournament champion is at the end of the night.
photo: Cottonbro via Pexels
13. Hot Topics
Finding common ground topics to discuss at the dinner table isn’t always easy with kids. Still, if Thanksgiving is one of the rare times the family sits down together, it’s the perfect opportunity to have a fun conversation. Try discussion prompt cards, like Talking Point or Connection Cards for Kids.
14. Turkey Time Capsule
Thanksgiving is always a great time for reflection and thinking about meaningful things in our lives. Have the kids decorate a shoebox or small container and then have each family member contribute something meaningful to the box—for example, a list of their favorite books or a drawing of their favorite activity. Seal the box up and put it away until next Thanksgiving. You’ll keep the whole family entertained this holiday and next year!
15. Organize a Food Drive
This is an excellent idea for the big kids who might have outgrown the crafts and games. Have the kids plan a neighborhood food drive. They can make fliers to pass out to neighbors asking for donations. To keep things contactless, they can distribute bags with their fliers and simply set a date to come back and collect items from the neighbors’ porches.
Did you try one of these ideas, or do you have an entertaining Thanksgiving activity of your own? Share it with the community on our Facebook page!