11 Awesome Thanksgiving Activities for You and Your Family

by: Erin Dower

Looking for a fun way to spend Thanksgiving Day, or want to start some meaningful Turkey Day traditions? This mix of kid-friendly indoor and outdoor activities will bring your family closer together in the true spirit of the holiday.

Watch the ParadeMacy's Thanksgivings Day Parade

Looking for something to do first thing on Thanksgiving Day? This is an old standard. Families have enjoyed watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV since 1948 (and the parade was first held in 1924). Watching giant balloons, floats and marching bands roll through the streets of New York City with your kids is a cozy and magical way to start the holiday. Make it even more fun by printing out our Thanksgiving parade bingo game!

Run a Turkey Trot

Everyone in your family can work up an appetite for your Turkey Day feast with a good turkey trot. The added bonus? Most turkey trots donate registration fees to good causes.

Looking for other ways to give back on Thanksgiving? Check out our list of kid-friendly backyard games) is a much more memorable way to spend the day.

Research Your Family Tree

What better time is there to help your kids learn their family history than Thanksgiving? With their grandparents and other older relatives around, children can dive into their genealogy and fill in this printable family tree.

Get a Football Game Going

Thanksgiving Family Football Game

If you have a house full of sports fans, it might be tough to pry their eyes from all the televised football games on Thanksgiving Day. But striking up a family game of football is a much more memorable way to spend the day.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

One admirable way to spend Thanksgiving Day is serving food to less-fortunate families at a soup kitchen, church or community center. If you can't help on the holiday itself, look into ways your family can pitch in beforehand, like collecting and sorting donated food or baking Thanksgiving pies.

Have a Mini Pumpkin Hunt

Another fun group activity that's perfect for toddlers on up is a mini pumpkin hunt. It's one of our favorite pumpkin-themed activities. You can hide one or more mini pumpkins, indoors or outside, and let the family loose — like an Easter egg hunt with an autumn twist. One other idea is to play "Fill the Cornucopia," asking kids to find all sorts of hidden items — apples, dried corn, and small gourds — to fill a cornucopia or basket on the Thanksgiving table.

Play a Board GameThanksgiving Day Board Games

A little friendly competition helps families bond on Thanksgiving — as long as everyone is a good sport! Pick from these 10 classic board games and play multiple rounds — or even a few different games — before crowning this year's family board-game champion.

Video Chat with Faraway Relatives

Online chatting on a tablet or computer allows families to connect from across the country, and even around the world. If you have a loved one or two who are too far away to visit on Thanksgiving, chatting over Skype or another video-chatting service will make their day. (A good ol' phone call is still nice, too!)

Arts and Crafts

We know the possible scene at your house: Mom is busy cranking out a feast in the kitchen. Dad is watching football. The kids are bored or cranky or running wild with their cousins. Set the youngsters up with some simple craft materials so they can make these festive creations, or — even easier yet — break out the crayons and print out some holiday coloring pages to keep them entertained until turkey time.

You could even turn their crafts into useful table decorations by having them make turkey place cards:

Help Out the Hosts

It's never too early to teach kids how to lend a hand to the holiday dinner hosts (even if it's Mom and Dad)! Children can help with everything from setting and decorating the table to mashing potatoes — and entertaining older guests, too. Everyone will admire how polite your little helpers are!

Give Thanks in Your Own Special Way

This is really what it's all about: Giving thanks for family, friends, the holiday feast, and other good fortune. Relatives and guests can give thanks for something verbally at the dinner table, write and exchange Thanksgiving thank-you cards, or find another unique way to give thanks. Showing gratitude in some way will help children learn about the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!

There's plenty to do besides food and football on Thanksgiving. Keep the whole family entertained (and out of the kitchen) with any one of these activities!