25 Simple Ways to Keep the Kids Busy on Thanksgiving
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Children impatiently awaiting their Thanksgiving dinner will love these games and activities that’ll have them playing, crafting, and writing what they’re thankful for until everyone is ready to eat
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.
Thanksgiving 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.
Your kids can giggle through this funny race that requires a balloon in between each player's legs. 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!
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 with this Thanksgiving game from School Time Snippets! Grab some pom-poms, a (clean) turkey baster, and a few kids needing to focus on something besides when dinner will be ready.
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 age. Set up the game table, then let ‘em roll!
Pin the Feather on the Turkey
Give a classic party game a Thanksgiving twist with this Pin the Feather on the Turkey activity from Living Well Mom. It's an easy way to occupy the kids and provides lots of opportunities to snap photos of your players trying to pin on their feather pieces.
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.
Related: 15 Free Activity Pages to Keep ‘Em Busy on Thanksgiving
Have a Turkey Scavenger Hunt
Find 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.
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 from Toddler Approved is tactile, easy enough for younger kids, and a cinch to set up.
Everyone's favorite charade game gets a DIY turkey makeover from I Dig Pinterest. We like how the popsicle-stick clues double as turkey tail feathers.
Score a strike on Turkey Day with a game from The Seasoned Mom. It doesn't require any special materials, and requires almost no setup—it's a guarantee for kid entertainment.
Creative Thanksgiving 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 record the answers on the covering. This a wonderful reminder of the season!
Related: How to Have an Unplugged Thanksgiving with Your Family—and Why You Should
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 during 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!
Thanksgiving Sensory Fun
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 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.
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 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” while you cook—it's a win-win!
Other Thanksgiving Activities
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 it before serving it alongside your fresh bread at dinnertime!
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 grateful phrases before cutting out each flag and hanging them up in time for the dinner bell.
Related: The New Thanksgiving Tradition Every Family Should Try
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.