Fun Activities to Fill Time On Thanksgiving

Avoid Awkward Conversations—And Arguments—With These Entertaining Games and Activities For All Ages

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting together with family and eating until I can barely walk. But there’s no doubt it’s also a stressful holiday for many. The risk of burned turkey, navigating political talk with family, and having to worry about entertaining guests can be a challenge for even the most seasoned hosts.

If your family enjoys finding a spot on the couch and settling in to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and football all day, you’re among the lucky ones. Your entertaining duties are limited to ensuring you have a big screen tv and a comfy living room. But if you’re like most, you have to figure out a way to keep at least some of your guests busy for hours before dinner.

If you want advice on what to cook this Thanksgiving, I can’t be of much help. But if you’re wondering what to do with your guests before your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving meal hits the table, I’ve got you covered.

Whether you’re trying to keep the kids out from under your feet as you cook or want to break the ice between different sides of your family, here are some ideas. 

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Fun Activities To Fill Time On Thanksgiving

Play Fun Thanksgiving Games

The last thing you want on Thanksgiving is for your weird uncle to start telling his long-winded stories that always end with him arguing with your cousin. Any time you get family members that rarely see each other together, you run the risk of volatility—and Thanksgiving is notorious for family fights. 

Avoid arguments by encouraging everyone to play games instead! Not only will this help keep the conversation on track, but it’s a great way to break the ice if you have guests that don’t know each other that well. That can be particularly useful if you invited different friend groups to your annual Friendsgiving party.

Here are three game ideas to help keep your Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving Party on track. 

Thanksgiving This or That

This game is simple but can be tons of fun! Every participant chooses their favorite from a list of Thanksgiving-themed options. Once everyone has picked, make sure to go around and share your choices. You’ll have a great time learning more about your guests.

Thanksgiving This or That

Thanksgiving Word Scramble

Another straightforward game—simply unscramble all of the Thanksgiving-themed words! The first person to complete the list wins.

Thanksgiving Word Scramble

Thanksgiving Categories

This game will take a little bit longer, but is sure to get the competitive juices flowing. A twist on the classic Scattergories game, every contestant should come up with a word that starts with each letter of “THANK” and fits each of the provided categories. If you’re crowning a winner, make sure to set a time limit. Otherwise, allow for unlimited time to see if everyone can fill all the letters!

Thanksgiving Categories

If you’re looking for a day full of activities, check out the Thanksgiving Activity Bundle to get all three games! Simply purchase, download, and print enough for all of your guests.

Want to up the ante a little bit? Turn each game into a competition. The overall winner and runner-up get to break the wishbone!

Activities for the Kids 

While all of the Thanksgiving games shared above are appropriate for children, they may be a bit challenging for younger kiddos who aren’t strong writers. Depending on your family, the competition might also get a bit too heated for the young ones! If that’s the case, there are still plenty of fun options to keep kids occupied throughout the day.

Turkey on the Table

Turkey on the table is a great way to help kids share their gratitude. First, read the accompanying book together. Then, have all the kids at your party write what they’re thankful for on the feathers and pin them to the turkey. After dinner, take turns reading the feathers. (Bonus: for every Turkey on the Table that’s sold, ten meals are donated to families in need through Feeding America.)

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft Kit

If the Turkey on the Table is a bit much, or you think every kid should have their own turkey to take home with them, try the Thanksgiving Turkey Craft Kit, instead. Kids can fill out multiple feathers to share what they’re thankful for this year.

Coloring Placemat

It’s inevitable that the smell of turkey and delicious sides cooking all day will have the kids asking, “is it dinner time yet?” every 15 minutes. Help distract them with this fun set of coloring placemats! Perfect for kids of any age, these placemats come in four different designs. 

Giant Thanksgiving Coloring Poster

Will you have a whole bunch of kiddos at your Thanksgiving dinner this year? Set up this giant Thanksgiving-themed poster on the kids’ table, place a few packs of crayons alongside it, and let the whole group color a masterpiece for the holiday!

Activities For Around the Dinner Table

Every year, without fail, you underestimate how long the turkey’s going to take to cook. We get it. We’ve been there. Use the time right before dinner to remember what you’re all thankful for. 

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Take some time before dinner to remember what you’re all thankful for this year. This is a fun exercise to help your guests remember what the holiday is all about and think about all of their favorite thanksgiving meals while they’re waiting for this year’s feast. 

Thanksgiving Thoughts Worksheet

Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

Worried about how the conversation will flow during dinner? Put a few of these Thanksgiving conversation starter cards on each guest’s placemat. Whenever there’s a lull in conversation or if you sense the discussion’s about to get tense, ask someone to read the prompt on their card. This also makes a great post-dinner activity while you’re waiting for dessert. 

Thanksgiving Conversation Starters

Entertaining is rewarding, but challenging. We all have horror stories from Thanksgivings gone awry. But with a little bit of pre-planning, you can be prepared to fill any downtime this year. 

Hosting a virtual Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving party? We’ve got you covered! All of the printable games come in pdf format and are easily shareable via Zoom. You can also find more fun virtual party game ideas here.

Can’t wait for Christmas as soon as Thanksgiving is over? Get the party started early with our Activity Advent Calendar and have fun each day of December leading up to the holiday!

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