Thanksgiving Activities for the Family

Three ideas for bringing the whole family together this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Wondering how you'll entertain all those relatives? Need ways to avoid hot button topics? Or maybe you're just looking to infuse a little levity into the big Thanksgiving production.

The holidays can be rough—you're busy in the kitchen getting the turkey ready, the kids are running around and the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street uncles have started before dinner has even begun.

Have no fear. Here are some playful activities that will lower everyone's blood pressure and may just make this the best Thanksgiving yet.

Thankful Tree

Here is an idea I borrowed from my friend Kirsten. Over the past couple years, she and her family have created a large Thankful Tree that grows across their kitchen wall. The trunk is fashioned from a roll of brown butcher or craft paper and the leaves are made out of construction paper.

Each night, everyone in the family writes down something they’re thankful for on a leaf and puts it on the tree. Whenever guests are over, they too add a leaf. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around their tree is filled.

I rather love the idea of the Thankful Tree and think it makes an excellent centerpiece for a children’s table. To make one yourself, take sticks or small branches and place them in a large mason jar or other container.

As guests arrive, direct them to write down what they're thankful for on a leaf. Punch holes in the leaves, tie a ribbon through and hang them on the sticks.

If you do not have access to sticks or branches, make a thankful garland. Prior to visitors arriving, hang a piece of twine across a mantle, doorway or entryway. Then affix leaves to it using ribbon or small clothespins.

20 Questions

This Thanksgiving, kick start conversations using a 20 Questions jar. This is a great one for shy kids. It also works for relatives who wander into debates about politics, religion and other controversial topics.

The idea is simple. Prior to guests arriving, write down random questions and place them in a container on the table. Then, during dinner or dessert, have guests chose a question to answer. Encourage other guests to answer as well. Need some help getting started? Check the resources below.

Wigwam Building

This is a great interactive activity to break out as you're preparing dinner or after the big meal. For it, you'll need playdoh or clay.

If you have a large group of children, break them into teams. Make sure there is a variety of older and younger kids on each one. Send kids outside to collect leaves, twigs, grass and other fall offerings. Then have the teams come back and build a wigwam using the playdoh and whatever they've collected outside.

You can expand this activity first by having everyone combine their wigwams into a village (they can even add a forest, river, etc) and then by having them make puppets out of construction paper to play alongside the wigwams.

May your bellies be full of food and your families full of joy. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Click on the links below for resources:
Thankful Tree
Conversation Starters for a kids page 1 and 2
Conversation Starters for all ages page 1 and 2


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