Thanksgiving means spending time with the ones you love AND eating good food at the same time. What could be better? Unfortunately, when conversations topics get exhausted, Thanksgiving can get uncomfortable fast. Whether you’re trying to keep conversation light and lively or simply looking for a fresh way to catch up with friends and family, we’ve got icebreakers and games that fit the bill.
Turkey with a Side of Conversation
With ideas for every type of relationship, these questions are sure to spark great conversation.
For the Newcomer
Did someone bring a new significant other? Invite a new neighbor over for the first time? If you’ve got a guest who you don’t know much about besides their name and occupation, make them feel welcome with these icebreaker questions.
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- Have you traveled anywhere interesting recently? What was the best part of your trip?
- Does your family have any Thanksgiving traditions you enjoy?
- What is your favorite thing about your job/university?
- What is your favorite place you’ve ever lived?
- What is No. 1 on your bucket list right now?
- Do you have any favorite childhood memories involving Thanksgiving (or any holidays)?
- What have you been thankful for this past year, week and today?
- What are you most looking forward to this holiday season?
- If you had to pick a completely different career than what you do currently, what would it be?
- What are five things you couldn’t live without (besides basic needs)?
Coordinate the office Thanksgiving potluck with a sign up. SAMPLE
For the Distant Relative
Do you have a relative at the table who you only see once and a while? Here are questions that will help you get caught up on their lives and keep the conversation going!
For the Immediate Family
- What were the best and what were the hardest parts of your last year?
- What hobbies or new things have you gotten into lately?
- What do you enjoy most about the city where you currently live?
- What is your favorite family memory from the past year?
- What are you looking forward to in the year ahead?
- What funny/sweet memories do you have of (shared relative)?
- What have your children/friends been up to recently?
- What are your plans for the upcoming holidays?
- What new music/television shows/books have you been checking out lately?
- What’s one thing that you want to do differently this next year?
To keep the conversation fresh with the people you spend time with day in and day out, try one of these fun questions!
- If you could have any famous figure (dead or alive) at our table with us for Thanksgiving, who would you choose?
- What is your favorite thing you are thankful for about our family?
- What would you like us to do as a family more this year?
- If you could get rid of any staple Thanksgiving food, what would it be?
- If you could only have one Thanksgiving food staple today, what would it be?
- If we started a new tradition, what should our new tradition be?
- If you could create a new Thanksgiving menu of all your favorite foods, what would it be?
- What is your favorite thing about the family member sitting next to you?
- What is your funniest memory of our family?
- What is something that makes our family unique that you love?
Organize volunteers for the school harvest festival with a sign up. SAMPLE
Games to Get You Gobbling
To pass the time, try these Thanksgiving-themed games that will have your whole family cracking up.
Around the Table
Looking for a game that you can play while eating turkey? We’ve got the perfect ideas!
- ABC’s of Thankfulness - Have each person go around and say something they are thankful for — the only rule is that they have to go in alphabetical order. So, if the first person is thankful for acorns, the next has to be thankful for something that starts with the letter B.
- Gobble, Gobble - Have each person do his/her best turkey gobble to the person sitting next to him/her. If you laugh at someone’s turkey gobble, you are out. Go around until you have a gobbling champion!
- I’m Thankful For - Make a list of various nouns (e.g., food, songs, places, people) and go around asking each person something they’re thankful for that falls in that category.
- Turkey History - Look up facts about the first Thanksgiving and the history of the holiday. Then, quiz your family to see if they can guess the trivia correctly!
- This Year I - Tell two things you did or experienced over the past year — one real and one fake! Have your family guess which is true, and learn more about what your family members did the year before. This one is especially good for families that haven’t seen each other in a while.
- Give Thanks Fast - Pair up and have people list what they are thankful for back and forth — the first person to pause is out. Make it more challenging by calling out categories — maybe the pair can only say things that start with a certain letter or only things related to school.
- Toilet Paper Thanksgiving - Before sitting down to eat, have each person take some toilet paper off a roll (but don’t tell them what it’s for). Then, explain that for each piece that they took, they must say one thing they are thankful for!
- Guess Whose Favorite Food - Have each person write down on a slip of paper his/her favorite Thanksgiving staple. Read them all out loud at once, then have each person submit their guesses (“I think these three people put turkey, these two put stuffing, etc.”) Winner gets the first piece of pie!
Throw a neighborhood Friendsgiving feast with a sign up. SAMPLE
Before & After the Meal
These games will burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories or just give you something to do while you wait for the turkey.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Bingo - Make different bingo sheets of common things that you see at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (someone says turkey, a certain celebrity appears, etc.), and then have family members play to see who will win!
- Chef Leftovers – While prepping the next meal after your Thanksgiving feast, compete to see who can create the best dish from Thanksgiving leftovers, whether it is a stupendous sandwich or a tasty turkey soup! Younger family members can be the judges, and you’ll get rid of those leftovers!
- Feather Your Turkey - Using some paper and store-bought feathers, create turkeys that will help keep score while you play your usual family board and card games — every point is one feather.
- NFL Exercise Game - If you come from an athletic family or have kids that can’t sit still after the Thanksgiving meal, come up with certain exercises that coordinate with NFL football (example: for every touchdown, do 20 jumping jacks). You’ll burn off those calories in no time!
- Turkey Football - Buy a cheap, extra turkey from the grocery store (maybe one that is damaged or unsellable), and play football with it after the feast. You’ll be in for some laughs watching your family toss around an uncooked turkey. Be prepared to clean up and disinfect appropriately!
- Match the Hand Turkey - Have each person draw and color a hand turkey, then (without looking at hands) guess which turkey belongs to which person!
- Trot Like a Turkey - Race to see which family member is the fastest while walking like a turkey — to get that turkey wobble, require racers to hold a balloon in between their knees while racing.
- Find the Turkey - Get chocolates/candy shaped like turkeys and hide them inside pumpkin pies (or even just tins of whipped cream, mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce). Then see which family member can find the candy the fastest without using their hands!
- Pumpkin Corn Hole - Instead of beanbags, play a game of corn hole with miniature pumpkins! Warning: it may get a little messy, but it’s sure to be a lot of fun! Have extra pumpkins on hand, and put down tarps to minimize cleanup.
Between all our games and questions, you’ll have a Thanksgiving full of laughter and empty of awkward silences — now that’s something to be thankful for!
Kayla Rutledge is a college student who spends most of her time writing, singing for her church and eating quesadillas.