Family Activities for the Best Thanksgiving Day Ever

You’ve already got your Thanksgiving decorations on the wall. You’re ready to get that turkey in the oven and start spending some time with your family. But what do you actually do once the turkey is in? Unless you’ve chosen a high maintenance recipe or menu, you probably have a few hours to kill before it’s really time to start digging into the dinner preparation. We’ve got some of the most fun and classic Thanksgiving Day family activities to make sure you have the best possible day with your family.

Watch the Parade

If it’s been a while since you really sat down and watched Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, this is the year to do it. It’s the 90th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving Day Parade and the floats and balloon just get better and better every year. The parade is well-stocked with performances by your favorite musicians and it’s a great way to start the morning.

The best part? You don’t even have to venture out into the cold. You can snuggle up with a blanket and your family and smell the turkey roasting away in the kitchen. Make it even more fun by making a parade bingo game and awarding a special price to whoever gets a bingo first.

Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving Day is all about the food, right? It can also be about exercise. Lots of communities hold a Turkey Trot to help you get an appetite for the big meal. Many of these run/walks are also charity events, encouraging you to bring a can of food or some other small donation as an entrance to the race.

Get a Football Game Going

Even if your entire family doesn’t like watching football, it might be fun to all get outside together and throw around the pigskin while you wait for dinner to be ready. Make it a friendly touch game if there are little kids playing, or a more competitive tackle game if just the adults want to be involved.

You can then venture back inside and watch the tail end of the televised games, just before it’s turkey time!

Pumpkin Hunts

This is a great activity is you have a lot of young relatives descending on your home that you might want to keep out from underfoot while you’re working on dinner or watching the parade or game. You can hide miniature pumpkins around the house, yard, or neighborhood and send the kids on a Thanksgiving-themed, Easter-egg-hunt-inspired adventure. You can make the game as easy or as difficult as you want, depending on the ages of the hunters.

Spend Some Time Getting in Touch with Your Roots

Thanksgiving is a great time to start digging into your family history, especially if you have relatives over who can help you get a better picture of your family tree. There are plenty of online resources that help you find your ancestors for free, and you can print out and fill in family tree with the kids.


Once your meal is in the works, why not donate some time to those who are less fortunate? Almost every town or city has a soup kitchen that could use some extra hands on Thanksgiving Day, which is one of their biggest days of the year. If you’re not sure where to look to donate your time (or even part of the meal, if you’re so inclined), ask around at your local church or community center.

If you don’t feel like you can devote a large chunk of your day to volunteering, you can still help out by bringing some mashed potatoes, rolls, or even a pre-cooked turkey to the food bank or soup kitchen. It will make their lives easier and ensure that those less fortunate have a great meal.

Break Out the Board Games

Fun for all ages! No, really. Whether you set the kids up with their own slate of board games or pick games that everyone can enjoy, Thanksgiving is a great time to revisit some of your favorite board games. Just make sure that it’s a low pressure situation. You don’t want your celebrations to become a stereotypical Thanksgiving where everyone gets angry and storms out of the house.

Make sure you have a variety of games, so those who aren’t into Monopoly can still play Ticket to Ride or Clue.

Get in Touch with Relatives

If you have branches of the family that were just too far away to come for Thanksgiving, you can still include them in the festivities by setting up a video chat. As long as you have a great internet connection, all you have to do is give them all call. Show them your Thanksgiving decorations, your meal, and your activities. Best of all? It’s completely free.

Make Decorations

If your decorations are looking a little sparse, gather up the kids and start making some new Thanksgiving decorations. Get some handprint turkeys in the works for the little ones or even make some felt turkeys with the older ones. For a low-pressure, easy craft that will keep the kids busy and quiet, set them up at their own table with Thanksgiving coloring pages and a box of crayons.

Set the Table and Help with the Cooking

Thanksgiving is more fun (and goes much more smoothly) when everyone lends a hand. From setting the table to rolling out the rolls to making the stuffing, there’s something that everyone can help with. Before the big day, make a list of tasks and the assign them to your family members. Even little kids can help with tasks like mashing the potatoes (or even something sillier like putting on a Thanksgiving play for their grandparents).