25 Simple Ways to Keep the Kids Busy on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and serious food prep, but sometimes it can be a handful keeping tabs on all the kids. To help you keep your focus on that turkey that needs basting, we’ve rounded up easy and fun Thanksgiving activities, crafts and games your crew can play during the big day. From pumpkin tic-tac-toe to arts and crafts to outdoor Thanksgiving games for kids, we’ve got something for everyone. Keep reading to see them all.

Games They’ll Gobble Up

Thanksgiving Turkey Ring Toss

This adorable, make-ahead Thanksgiving ring toss game from Hands On As We Grow is the perfect craft and game combo. It's super easy to do, and only needs a few supplies—some of which you probably already have around the house! We bet the adults will have as much fun as the kids with this one. 

photo: iStock

Turkey Waddle

Your kids can giggle through this funny race that requires a balloon in between each player's leg. Players must make their way from point A to point B without touching the balloon or letting it fall. Get the details from Party Games Ideas and waddle away! 

Turkey Trot

Send them outside for a rousing game of Turkey Trot. It’s like tag, but with a Thanksgiving Day twist. And since it’s a more-the-merrier team game, you can bring on the cousins and neighbors for this one!

Turkey Baster Race

Practice fine motor skills and have tons of fun! Grab some pom-poms, a (clean) turkey baster and a few kids needing to focus on something besides when dinner will be ready. To find out more, head over to School Time Snippets

The Feather Game

Roll the dice with this crafty turkey “feather” game. We love this make-ahead game that uses colored clothespins paired with a free printable designed by Amy at The Idea Room because it's all the rage, no matter what their age. Set up the game table them let ‘em roll!

Thanksgiving Bingo

Free printable alert! This easy-peasy game involves picture recognition, candies and a whole lot of giggling. For the printable, instructions and more, head over to Crazy Little Projects.

Pumpkin Tic Tac Toe

Who knew those mini pumpkins you're using as festive home decor can double as game pieces? We like that this activity is tactile, easy enough for younger kids, and a cinch to set up. Learn more at Toddler Approved.

Pin the Feather on the Turkey

Give a classic party game a Thanksgiving twist with this Pin the Feather on the Turkey activity. It's an easy way to occupy the kids and provides lots of opportunities to snap photos of your players try to pin their feather pieces. Learn more from Living Well Mom.

Thanksgiving Pictionary

Everyone's favorite charade game gets a turkey makeover. We like how the popsicle-stick clues double as turkey tail feathers. Get all the DIY details from I Dig Pinterest.

Turkey Bowling

Score a strike on Turkey Day with a game that doesn't require any special materials, and requires almost no set up—it's a guarantee for kid entertainment. Learn all about it at The Seasoned Mom.

photo: Gabby Cullen

Paper Football

While your favorite teams go head-to-head, let your kids toss the paper pigskin down the field of your family room. All you need to do is cheer them on as you baste your bird.

Creative Crafts That Put a Feather in Their Cap

Make Bead Napkin Rings

Although your little turkeys may not jump at the chance to set the table, they’ll jump at the chance to make these beautiful beaded napkin rings. Buggy and Buddy has everything you need to know to set up and make this easy—not to mention super helpful—turkey day craft.

Design a Table Covering

Roll out some butcher paper so that it covers the entire table, then let your aspiring artists have at it with any and everything they can find in the craft bin. Then have the kids make the rounds, asking guests what they’re thankful for, and then recording the answers on the covering. A wonderful reminder of the season! Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

Make Suncatchers

Contact paper suncatchers are easy to make (aka minimal supervision), plus they add to your Thanksgiving décor. To get started, leave out small pieces of tissue paper in fall colors. Next, have your kidlet place the paper pieces onto to sticky side of clear contact paper. When she’s done, seal it shut with another piece of contact paper. Then, use cookie cutters or other templates to trace and cut fall shapes like leaves, pumpkins, turkeys or apples to hang in your dining room window

Make Potato Stamps

Set up a stamp station where your mini-me can use spare dinner fixings to create fantastic works of art. Carve simple shapes into extra potatoes pre-dinner prep. Then set up a station with plenty of paper and paints to keep your aspiring artist busy while you transform the rest of your potato stash into a delish holiday side.

Make Turkey Puppets

Craft turkey puppets with your stash of brown paper lunch sacks. Allison at No Time For Flash Cards can give you the low down on this easy-to-set-up craft option that gives you precious time in the kitchen.

Craft Thanksgiving Day Hats

Download these printable Thanksgiving Day hats for your kids to color and then wear during the festivities! 

Sensory Fun & Other Activities

Set Up a Fall Sensory Bin

Give your sweet tot something to do with a sensory bin full of popcorn kernels. Keep with the fall theme by adding in plastic pumpkins and fabric leaves, or go full farm by including Old Mac Donald and his barnyard faves among the kernels. Finish it off with measuring cups and funnels to keep those little hands busy, so you can mix and mingle with your guests.

Make Pumpkin Playdough

Spice up your standard play dough routine with a DIY batch that’s scented like pumpkin. Carla at Small+Friendly has the deets you need to make it the day before. Then set up a play cook station for your little chef using your fave play dough tools. She “cooks,” you cook is a win-win!

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

Give Thanks

String together thanks with a free printable garland designed by Somewhat Simple. Print out plenty of stylish flags ahead of time. Then have your crew write out their own grateful phrases before cutting out each flag and hanging them up in time for the dinner bell.

Have a Turkey Scavenger Hunt

Hunt turkeys during a scavenger hunt that either racks up outdoor time or entertains the kiddos indoors if the weather doesn't cooperate. Thanks to Bloom Designs, you can download the game cards and pieces for free.

Start a Conversation

This clever kid distraction is both a game and a way to encourage everyone to get talking about anything and everything. Head to Happy Home Fairy for free conversation printables that will have your house buzzing with talk in no time.

Send Them on a Feather Hunt

Hide colorful craft feathers around the house ahead of time. Then when your sidekick comes looking for something to do, let her know the game is already afoot. Challenge her to Sherlock her way to a win by tracking them all down.


Make Butter

Did you know all it takes is a little shake, shake, shake to make DIY butter? Simply pour ¼ cup of whipping cream into a mason jar or other tightly sealed container. Then shake it up for around 20 minutes, until the butterfat separates from the liquid. We love the idea of passing the jar between tiny guests to spread the wealth. Don’t forget to drain before serving it alongside your fresh bread at dinnertime!

— Allison Sutcliffe & Abigail Matsumoto

Feature photo: iStock



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