There's lots of activities that you can include in your Thanksgiving festivities. With this list handy, nobody at your gathering will be bored! Without further ado, let's get to the big list of family Thanksgiving games.
- Try to turn some basic Thanksgiving activities, like pie making, into a game!
- You can make a game out of a watch party, like while watching the Peanuts Thanksgiving special.
- Try to think up unique ways to spice up traditional party games, like bingo!
Thanksgiving Family Games
1. Pie Party
It may not be some folk's idea of a game, but there is nothing more fun than making pies with a whole bunch of people. The fun of making pies can be shared by people all ages and the best part of the pie game is that it will cut back on your Thanksgiving meal preparation.
For younger chefs a few precautionary steps will make the process safer and easier for both you and your little pie makers. Decide which kind of pies you will be making and get the shopping done beforehand. For youngsters it is a good idea to choose cream pies. Having several crusts made and baked beforehand which the kids can fill with cream will stave off the “‘Is it done yet?” impatience of youngsters. Other items that help, especially in the mess department, are pre-measuring ingredients, aprons, and covering the work surfaces in tablecloths.
Once you know what pies you will be making have the kids help add ingredients. Cracking eggs is especially fun for children, but it is best to do this in a separate container so that any stray shells can be removed prior to adding the eggs to the pie. To simplify things further use instant pudding rather than homemade pudding, and add bananas, berries, peaches, or other fresh fruit to create a few delectable pies.
Older more experienced chefs can have more free reign. They will have fun rolling out the pie crusts, paring the fruits, and measuring themselves. All you really need to do is select and shop for the recipes they will be making, and be on hand for questions and safety supervision. Add the element of competition and have the results judged in a blind tasting.
2. Peanuts Party
Tired and want to rest, but still need to entertain your children and guests? Nothing could be easier hosting a peanuts party. Have jelly beans and popcorn to eat then sit the whole gang down to watch Charlie Brown struggle with Peppermint Patty's forwardness. Make a game out of it by requiring a green jelly bean to be eaten each time someone says good grief, a red bean for block head, and so forth. This is even more fun with novelty jelly beans of unusual flavor.
A movie and a game all while you get to sit back and relax on the couch. Perfect for the end of a busy day!
3. Corn Maze
You don't have to make your own visit to a corn maze, unless you really want to (and in that case you'd better start in mid to late May by planting a robust crop of corn). Seriously, this is a fabulous game for any Thanksgiving gathering. Send the children off to a corn maze while you enjoy a stress free afternoon of holiday baking, preparation, or perhaps a break with a glass of wine. Mazes appeal to kids of all ages. The youngest will need some help (and it is a good idea to take snacks so you don't end up with a very grumpy toddler midway). Older kids can take off on their own and you will know they are safe.
4. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
Whether you play outdoors or indoors, a scavenger hunt will occupy time while waiting for the feast to begin or heighten the fun of a Thanksgiving party. The preparation is easy. First gather enough bags for each team or participant, then create a list. To prevent lost lists print the list on a large packing label and stick it to the bag. Put a pencil in each bag so items can be marked off as they are found.
Items to be found can be anything from pennies bearing certain dates to pumpkin seeds or feathers. If you want this scavenger hunt to be especially geared to Thanksgiving you will want to make the items reflect that theme. You may also want to seed the hunting area with the items listed. For example you can list turkeys on the items sheet then hide pictures of turkeys around the house or in the outside playing area. Going door to door may not be the idea for this game because this is a holiday and while children playing outside won't bother anyone, children going door to door might. If you want to try involving multiple houses, make sure you check with your neighbors beforehand.
5. Family Football Game
Try starting a family tradition of an annual Thanksgiving game of football. It doesn't matter what kind of football your family chooses to play, so long as all who want to play can be included. One of the things Thanksgiving is about is family, not crushing someone at football.
To make the game friendly to all players modify the rules or choose a variation on the game that all can play. Touch or flag football is generally easier on the body and friendlier to a co-ed team. If you like the idea of flag football, but don't have the flags you used to use in gym class, improvise. Use a pair of socks. Tuck one on each hip: instant flags.
Touch and flag football are great but they may still leave the youngest players in the cold. To be sure youngest players are included you can divide into four age based teams. The grown players can cheer while the younger teams play. Then, let the youngsters cheer as the more chronologically advanced teams play. Other inclusion ideas are: Have the adults play left-handed, play in partnered teams pairing littlest players with the largest players, or play a more morphed version of football than flag or touch.
A great variation is Frisbee golf. Teams score by entering the end zone with the Frisbee, but they can't run once the Frisbee is caught. The Frisbee can be thrown multiple times after the snap until it is intercepted, dropped or a touchdown is made. Interceptions and dropped Frisbees result in a turnover and the opposing team snaps from where the turnover occurred. After a touch down there is a “kick off” at mid field, although the Frisbee is thrown to the opposite team rather than kicked. It won't harm this game in the slightest if you would rather throw a football than a Frisbee.
6. Scrabble Anyone?
Don't laugh- this is based on a real game played by the pilgrims all those years ago. Their game did not include little wooden tiles, though. To play each player needs a piece of paper and a pencil. A timer is also needed. The game starts when one person (it doesn't matter who, but it should be a different person each round) states a long word like: transportation. Players write the word at the top of their paper. Then begin play by taking the first letter of the word (T) and writing as many words they can think of that begin with that letter in 90 seconds. When the time is up, players compare lists. Points are awarded only to words that were not repeated on anyone else's list. Play then begins again with the next letter, and continues until all letters have been played. If a letter is repeated, skip it and move onto the next. When all letters have been played tally points, declare the winner, select a new word and begin again.
If traditional Scrabble is more your thing, have fun! Maybe you can shake up your usual routine by playing speed scrabble.
7. Touch Wood Tag
This game is your basic tag, and even the youngest children can play. Rules are simple: avoid the player who is “it” while running from one safe spot to the next. Safe spots are anything made of wood. If “it” catches you off of a safe spot it is your turn to be “it”. To ensure a fast paced game it may be necessary to include a time limit for staying still at one safe spot. Perhaps you have to change spots after counting to ten.
8. Bell Jingler
In this Thanksgiving game the usual role of “it” is reversed in that everyone is trying to catch “it”, not avoid “it”. All players except “it” are blind folded. “It” holds a jingle bell and jingles it as the other players try to catch “it” by following the sound. Once a child finds “it” the bell is passed to them and play resumes.
9. The Price Is Right
Save your receipts from your Thanksgiving meal and play your own version of The Price Is Right. Each person at the dinner table has to guess how much each ingredient or dish cost. The person who is the closest without going over the actual price wins. You can play it while waiting for dinner to be served and allow the winner to make their plate first. If you want, you can have prizes that the winners can choose from! Make sure all the prizes are appropriate for both kids and adults.
10. Family Feud
This is one of the best Thanksgiving family games to play because it requires minimal supplies and everyone in the family can play it. Just use a couple of markers and dry erase boards. Choose a category, such as Thanksgiving foods, and make each team write a list of their idea of the top foods. Whichever team guesses the most correct answers on the other team's board wins.
Charades is a classic game that can be tweaked to fit any occasion. What could be more fun than a game of Thanksgiving charades? Write down or print out a variety of Thanksgiving actions and characters and place them in a bowl. Take turns selecting a paper and acting it out. The team that guesses the most correct charades is the winner. Adults can help children by allowing one person on their team or the opposite team to read or explain the charade to them. That adult would not guess since they would already know the answer.
12. Find the Turkey
Before guests arrive, hide a plastic turkey or a photo of a turkey somewhere in your yard or home. Split guests into teams and give them both the same hints that tell them where to find the turkey. Watch as they run around the house or yard, searching for the Thanksgiving turkey. You can make this game as easy or as hard as you want. Eventually, teams will start to give up. You can decide if you want to reveal your hiding place or keep it a secret so you can use it again next year.
Thanksgiving Games for Kids
Finding games to play on Thanksgiving with kids will help keep them occupied while you are preparing the meal or after the meal is over, when the adults want some downtime. You can play these games with your kids or just instruct them on how to play and leave them to it.
1. Pin the Tail on the Turkey
Use some craft paper to create a turkey and enough tail feathers for each child. Write each child's name on their tail feather. Use a bandana blindfold and challenge the children to tape their feathers on the tail of the turkey. The child that lines their tail feather up the closest wins. This is a great game because it doesn't have a lot of small pieces, it can be thrown away when you finish, and it can be adapted to allow as many children as necessary to play.
2. Turkey Art Contest
If you want a game that will keep the kids busy and quiet, a turkey art contest is the way to go. Just give the kids some markers, crayons, pencils, and paper and challenge them to draw and decorate the best turkey. Don't let them write their names on them, and have all the adults at the party vote on the best one. You can also have other prizes such as prettiest, most creative, and most realistic, to ensure everyone walks away a winner.
3. Pilgrims and Native Americans
This game is best if played in an area where there is plenty of space. The children are given a role to play, either Native Americans or pilgrims. They act out the first Thanksgiving and stay in their role throughout the day, even after their show is over. It's not only a fun game. It's an educational one as well. Kids enjoy making their own costumes and learning about Thanksgiving as they act it out themselves. Avoid having your children dress up as Native Americans, as this is generally considered racially insensitive. This is a great opportunity to educate them as to why these costumes are not considered appropriate! Instead, have them dress in “old fashioned” clothing that the people of those times would've worn.
Thanksgiving Games for Adults
Who says kids get to have all the fun? These Thanksgiving games are designed for adults.
1. Thanksgiving Trivia
If you brushed up on your Thanksgiving history, this game should be a breeze for you. Just have each adult at the dinner table writer down a few trivia questions about the first Thanksgiving. They should also write down the answers on a separate sheet and keep them hidden. Take turns asking your questions. The person who gets the most right is the winner. You can even come up with fun Thanksgiving prizes. If you can't come up with any trivia questions on your own, you can easily find some questions online.
2. Turkey Waddle
This game is sure to lead to lots of laughs and some great Thanksgiving memories. Blow up some balloons and decorate them to look like turkeys. Split up into teams. To play the game, each team member must race from one side of the room to the other with their turkey between their thighs. The next person on the team can't go until the person before them has made it to the other side. If you drop your turkey, you have to go to the end of the line and race again. The first team to get all their turkeys across the room wins.
3. Parade Drinking
If you enjoy watching Thanksgiving parades during Thanksgiving, this drinking game can be a lot of fun. Choose a reason to drink. It can sometimes be as simple as drinking every time a person says the word Thanksgiving, or anytime a host stutters. There are no real winners to this game, but it's a lot of fun to play. You also don't have to drink alcoholic beverages. It can be played with non-alcoholic drinks, or you can switch it up and make it so each person has to eat a piece of candy corn instead of taking a drink. The last person to drop out of the game can declare themselves the winner.
4. Thanksgiving Bingo
Bingo isn't just for old people! This is a great way to get everyone involved, since bingo is a relatively simple game that basically anyone can play. Consider having everyone throw money into a prize pool, or buy some prizes ahead of time for the winners to choose from.
A different variation of bingo involves the winner getting to ask one of the losers a question. The loser has to answer honestly; if they refuse the question, then they have to complete a dare or punishment. This is a fun way to spice up your game of bingo and to keep everyone on their toes! It's also a great alternative if you don't want to buy prizes or ask your guests to throw money in.
5. Guess the Sentence
In this game, someone will start saying a sentence. Then, someone will try to guess how they intended to finish the sentence. To make sure this fits the holiday, have every player say Thanksgiving-themed sentences. For example, they could say “Last Thanksgiving, my favorite dish was…” Then, the person to their left or right has to try to finish their sentence.
At the end of the game, whoever guessed the most correct answers wins! Like with bingo, you can use a system of prizes for winners and punishments/dares for losers to make it extra fun! This is another cheap, simple game that will have everyone on their toes.