If there’s one time of the year that’s synonymous with family, it's Thanksgiving. Perched just before end-of-year chaos kicks off in earnest, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to get the family together for some quality time (as well as the traditional belly-busting feast) and celebrate all the things you are grateful for. Whether you’re a parent or babysitter, be sure to have some fun Thanksgiving activities on hand for the kids.
Crafts, games, and other activities aren’t just a great way to keep the kids entertained while they wait for Thanksgiving dinner. They also help young children develop critical motor skills and keep their creative juices flowing. With beautiful autumn leaves, pinecones, pumpkins, and turkey all being hallmarks of the holiday, there is plenty to draw inspiration from. You could also incorporate some games—like a scavenger hunt or charades—into your Thanksgiving celebrations. These classic Thanksgiving activities are fun for the whole family and a wonderful way to make memories for years to come.
1. Make a Pinecone Turkey
Pinecone turkeys are super simple craft activities for kids and make cute centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table. You only need a few items that you might even already have around the house! Gather some pine cones, felt, feathers, googly eyes, and craft paint. Cut out a felt triangle for a beak, and attach it and two google eyes to a pine cone to make a face. Then glue feathers around the back, and voilà! You have your turkey and some friendly, holiday-themed decor for your home.
Note: Craft stores usually sell packs of pinecones if you don’t have any lying around the neighborhood. Feathers in red, orange, yellow, or multi-color packs can also be bought from your local craft shop.
2. Gratitude Tree
Gratitude crafts are a great way to teach your kids to be thankful. For this craft, stick a large branch upright into a small pot or container filled with soil. Prep your autumn leaves by cutting some oval shapes out of colored paper. Let the kids write something they are thankful for on each leaf. Make it a whole family activity and have each family member write something down. Glue the leaves onto your tree branches, and tie a ribbon around the pot to make a pretty centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table.
3. Stuff the Turkey
This activity is part craft, part game. Use a regular old brown paper bag (turned inside out if there’s advertising printed on the outside), and fold the top edge of the bag down by about one inch. Stuff two lunch-sized brown paper bags with white tissue paper, leaving space halfway up to twist mostly shut with just a rounded bit of white issue peaking out of the top: this will form your turkey legs. Staple the legs to either side of the brown paper bag, then have the kids take turns attempting to throw “stuffing” (wadded up balls of tissue paper) into the turkey.
4. Feathers Up!
This is a fun game for the whole family—just get some light fluffy feathers!
Players hold the feather close to their mouths and blow it up into the air. They then need to keep their feather afloat with their breath as long as possible. No hands, just huffing and puffing! The one who can keep their feather floating the longest is the winner. You can also play head-to-head to see who can keep their feather floating in elimination rounds.
5. Thanksgiving-Themed Charades
Everyone loves charades. Plan a family charades activity around a Thanksgiving theme, incorporating concepts, foods, or items related to the day. Play in teams or as individuals in one big group. Set a time limit for players to guess the word.
To prepare the game, write your pool of guess words on small pieces of paper. Fold them and place them in a container, bag, or hat to draw from. Here are some Thanksgiving-themed words you might want to include in your selection:
- Apple Picking
- Falling Leaves
- Black Friday
- Pumpkin Pie
6. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are loads of fun and can be played indoors or outdoors. The whole family can get in on it! Toddlers may need a little help and direction, while teenagers who are reluctant to join can always be judges or team captains. Players can do scavenger hunts individually, or if it’s a big group, split the family into small teams or pairs. Give each player or group a list of items to collect in a given timeframe, or simply see who can find everything first.
Plant some Thanksgiving-themed items for the hunt: strategically place mini pumpkins around the house, or send the teams off to find a secret football or turkey (you can even use those crafty pinecone turkeys mentioned above). Hide a scarecrow in a closet, or have people track down acorns or feathers tucked into odd places. Set some sort of fun prize for the winner or winning team!
Holiday Prep Is Crazy—Hire A Babysitter
The holidays are a lot of fun, but can also be an overwhelming time for busy parents. There’s shopping, arranging travel, and meal prep for the feasts, on top of your normal work and family life duties. If you’re feeling overwhelmed this holiday season (or just need to squeeze a few more hours out of the day) consider hiring a babysitter. Having a babysitter entertain your kids with some of these Thanksgiving activities is a great way to free up your time.
Using a babysitting app like Nanno can help you arrange your holiday calendar by providing easy access to pre-vetted babysitters on demand. You can call on a local trusted babysitter when needed to help with holiday babysitting at any time!
All of Nanno’s babysitters undergo an in-depth four-step security screening process to vet backgrounds, trustworthiness, punctuality, and experience. In addition, you can chat with your babysitter via the app at any time, so you always know your child is safe. Whether you need to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, attend to work, or just need a night out after all the chaos, a vetted babysitter is just a click away.