20 Thanksgiving Day Games for the Whole Family

It's almost Thanksgiving — the classic American holiday that brings families together for sharing and eating (and more eating). But the day's festivities don't have to be all about food. Encourage your fellow family members to get their bodies and brains moving after the big feast with a couple of these fun games.  

  1. Rip It Up. The game is to tear a sheet of construction paper into a turkey shape. The challenge is to do so while holding the piece of construction paper behind your back and with a time limit — a minute is usually a good amount. Before you start, choose someone to be the judge, and the winner is the person with the most recognizable shape. 
  2. Blowing Leaves. Split your guests into teams for this relay race. Each team needs to blow a leaf from one point to another with a straw. Play until everyone has a turn. The first team to finish wins. 
  3. Mini Pumpkin Hunt. For kids and adults, hide mini pumpkins throughout the house or yard. The goal of the game is to be the person who finds the most mini pumpkins. At the end, it may be a challenge just to carry them. You can use a timer to set a time limit or play a song and the game ends when the song is over. 
  4. What's Missing? On a tray, place 20 Thanksgiving-related items such as candy corn, miniature boats, pilgrims and turkeys. Have participants look at the tray carefully for 30 seconds then close their eyes. While their eyes are closed, remove one object. Have them reopen their eyes and ask what item is missing. It's a version of the Concentration Game.  
  5. Pumpkin Roll. This one gets everyone moving and could help burn off those extra calories from the big dinner. You need two large pumpkins and maybe a couple of spares if one breaks. Pumpkins are not smooth balls, so they do not roll in a straight line. They tend to roll all over the place, which means ample space is needed for this game. Racers line up and use their hands to move the pumpkin to the finish line. If you have many players, then make it a relay race. 
  6. Feather Toss. Tape a weight to the end of a feather. For the weight, use a flat blunt nail to give stability to the feather.  Mark the floor and place a basket a few feet away. Have participants take turns tossing the feathers into the basket. Keep score to determine the winning player. 
  7. Turkey Tag. If the weather permits, try a Thanksgiving version of flag tag to shake off the sluggishness often felt after a Thanksgiving meal. Each player wears three clothespins on their clothing. Participants run around trying to remove clothespins from competitors. This is an activity that combines the need to get moving with a healthy dose of competition. 

Easy potluck planning! SAMPLE

  1. Guess Who is Thankful. As guests arrive, have them each write down on a piece of paper what they are thankful for, then have them fold up the note and place in a basket. After everyone's arrival, have one person read the notes out loud as others guess who wrote it. 
  2. Toss and Tell. Participants sit in a circle. The first person starts by tossing a small turkey stuffed animal or a football to someone else and asks a question. For example, who do you think will win today's football games or what are you thankful for today? This game is good for multi-generations to get interactive with each other. 
  3. For Thanksgiving Dinner I Had. This fun memory game might have your guests all tongue-tied! The first person starts by saying For Thanksgiving dinner I had then adds something they actually ate, such as turkey. The second person has to repeat the first person's sentence adding another food item at the end. The game continues around the circle. If a player makes a mistake, they are out. The person who can perfectly recite the Thanksgiving menu is the winner. 
Thanksgiving fall potluck dinner party celebration sign up
  1. Pumpkin Toss. Create a ring toss by lining up three large pumpkins. Mark a throwing line on the floor or ground with tape, then have players toss hula-hoops to ring a pumpkin. You could also use embroidery hoops to ring pumpkins stems. Give each player three tries before going to the next competitor. The prize for the winner could be that they don't have to help with the dishes! 
  2. Thanksgiving Trivia. Research fun facts about Thanksgiving, and quiz participants. Some samples: "Where was the first Thanksgiving dinner held?" "How many turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving?" "What is the average size of a family's turkey?" Write facts on note cards. It's likely the guessers will not know the exact answers for some questions, but award the points to the one person who comes closest to guessing correctly. Consider awarding prizes. 
  3. Where is Mr. Turkey? Hide a turkey stuffed animal inside or outside depending on the weather. Give clues by gobbling like turkeys. If hunters are not close, then gobble very quietly. As the hunters get closer, then gobble louder until Mr. Turkey is found. If you have little ones, this makes for a fun scavenger hunt to get them in the Thanksgiving spirit.

Organize all of your fun activities with a sign up! SAMPLE

  1. Thanksgiving Twister. Turn this classic game into a Thanksgiving theme by replacing the colored dots with Thanksgiving symbols. Secure pictures completely with tape to prevent ripping. Twister is a great way to get your guests up and moving! 
  2. Pin the Feather on the Turkey. It's the Thanksgiving version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. You need a blindfold and a cutout feather for each participant, a roll of tape and a large drawing of a turkey. Have each participant write their name on a feather, so everyone will know where their feather landed. Hang the turkey picture on a suitable surface, blindfold the first player, give a few spins, and let the fun begin! 
  3. Thanksgiving Word Mash Up. This is a great game to get your family to put on their thinking caps. Give everyone a piece of paper with the words "Happy Thanksgiving" written on the top or write it on a clipboard to pass around the table. The goal here is to come up with as many different words as you can, just using the letters from "Happy Thanksgiving." Keep at it until no one can think of another word.  
  4. Be Grateful From A to Z. A family member begins by saying something he or she is grateful for that starts with the letter A. The next person gives a grateful thanks starting with the letter B. Go around until your family gets to the letter Z. It's a fun game especially with younger kids who are still mastering the alphabet. 
  5. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt. Hide Thanksgiving-themed trinkets around a room, the house or the backyard. If you don't have any, then simply print Thanksgiving pictures from your computer. Set a time limit and the person who finds the most items is the winner. 
  6. Have a Board Game Tournament. Dust off those board games and put them to good use for a little friendly competition. Play a round, and the winner advances to the next round until the year's family board game champion has been decided.  
  7. Share Your Love. Gather the group and have every person share what they love about the family. Have family members start by saying, "I love my family because…." It's a good way to express feelings, encourage positivity and share love. 
Remember to keep the mood light and fun. Thanksgiving might have a reputation for only being about eating turkey and watching football, but what really matters is getting together as a family and making memories.  

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mom of two daughters.