Thanksgiving dinner activities

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The right activities will make your Thanksgiving dinner more memorable for everyone
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Thankgiving dinner activities to make your holiday more meaningful and more fun

Ask anyone what they do on Thanksgiving Day, and you're likely to get two answers:  eat turkey and watch football.  Is there more?

If you want to add more to your Thanksgiving Day celebration, try these Thanksgiving dinner activities.  Some of them are good ways to keep kids busy while dinner cooks.  Others are fun for families and friends.  And a few are good ways to spend a Thanksgiving Day if you find yourself far from home or spending the holiday alone.

Thanksgiving dinner activities for kids

Making table decorations or place cards

Let kids get involved in the Thanksgiving preparations by making table decorations.  Tiny pumpkins and washable markers are great ways to keep kids busy creating personalized "place cards" for the table.  Have an adult or older child help write the names, and then let the little ones decorate the little pumpkins for each guest.  Or have them decorate larger pumpkins for a colorful Thanksgiving centerpiece. 

Create a Thanksgiving trivia game

Gather little known facts about Thanksgiving and create a simple board game.  Use acorns, tiny pine cones or candy corn for the game pieces.  Assign each question a point value.  A correct answer moves that many spaces forward, and incorrect one that many spaces backwards.  The winner is the first to reach a smiling turkey or pilgrim or cornucopia – the choice is yours. 

Get them moving outdoors

Let the little ones burn off some energy before the meal and they'll behave better during dinner.  Organize a Thanksgiving treasure hunt where kids have to find small Thanksgiving themed items you hid before they arrived.  Keep the hunt in the yard, and be sure there's an adult watching at all times.  The one with the most items could win a small prize like a turkey-shaped cookie.

Thanksgiving dinner activities for families

The after dinner gratitude walk

Burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories and remember the message of the holiday with an after dinner gratitude walk.  Have everyone bring comfortable shoes and a warm coat (if the weather is chilly in your area.)  After the table is cleared, have everyone head out for a walk around the neighborhood.   The rules are simple.  With each step, you have to say something you're thankful for in your life.  Take turns…each person says one thing, then the next person says something, and so on across the group or down the line.  You'd be surprised what will come to mind as you walk, list your blessings and hear other's gratitude as well.

The thankful tree

Before Thanksgiving, find a tree branch with a lot of smaller branches on it.  Leave it natural or paint it an autumn color.  Buy several packages of silk autumn leaves and some Sharpie markers.  Place the branch on a side table, or use it as a centerpiece.  As each person arrives, have them write their name on one side of a leaf, and something they are grateful for on the other.  Attach the leaves to the tree with glue, hot glue, or double sided tape.  By the time everyone is seated, you'll have a gratitude tree to use as your centerpiece!

If you find yourself alone or far from home on Thanksgiving, consider one of these Thanksgiving Day activities.

Thanksgiving dinner activities for singles, couples or travelers

Serve those in need

Most churches and social service groups offer free Thanksgiving meals for the homeless and those in need. Volunteer to help cook, serve, clean up or just be there to lend a hand

I promise that the Thanksgiving dinner you eat with the people you're serving will be the most meaningful one of your life.

Spend the day in meditation or prayer

Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to gratitude.  What better time to do a mini-retreat and review the things for which you are grateful?  Find a pretty place outdoors or create a comfortable spot in your home or hotel room.  Make sure you have a journal or notebook and some good pens to write down, draw, or otherwise define your blessings. 
No matter how you spend your Thanksgiving, make sure you remember the message of this holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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