10 Thanksgiving Games to Make the Holiday More Fun for Everyone

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

Thanksgiving day can be a long one and you may need activities to fill up the time as you wait for the turkey to cook or as you recover between turkey and pie. Especially if you have a crowd, it’s a great time to get some party games going. Here are ideas for games to suit all ages and, especially, games that all ages can play and enjoy together.

1. Thanksgiving Bingo (From Flavor Wire)

This version of bingo is for adults and is probably the most fun if you’re the cynical type. Flavor Wire has created four humorous bingo cards and participants cover the squares as the day progresses and they observe things like running out of gravy, someone coming late, a drunk uncle, a pet stealing food, someone starting a story with “when I was your age.”

2. “The Best” (From The Idea Room)

This game can be played any time of year, but is particularly well suited for a large gathering, like the one you might have at Thanksgiving. You divide into teams and compete in silly contests like who can stand on one foot the longest, who has the tallest thumb and any other contests you can invent.

3. Pass the Nut (From Improvements Catalog)

Don’t worry, this is not a version of passing an orange from neck to neck, but with a small nut — that sounds a bit too intimate. This is essentially a relay race where teams carry small objects like nuts and cranberries from bowl to bowl with chopsticks.

4. Turkey Tag (From Let’s Get Together)

This is an outdoor game for kids and adults and is a Thanksgiving-themed version of flag tag. The gist is that each person wears three clothespins on their clothing and then everyone runs around trying to remove clothespins from everyone else.

5. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Drinking Game

If watching the televised parade is a part of your family’s annual tradition, mix it up by making it into a drinking game (and not necessarily alcoholic!). A few years ago Chicago Now published their ideas for prompts like, “Drink every time a musical performer messes up the lip syncing.” The bloggers at Cookies & Sangria have a similar list (although they suggest doing exercises instead of drinking!) including doing a set of jumping jacks when “the hosts refer to bad parade weather in the distant past (>25 years ago).”

6. Top Turkey Artist (From Creative Youth Ideas)

This game is a contest to see who can draw the best turkey without looking. The version described here involves putting a book on your head and using that as a drawing surface, but it seems simpler to just blindfold people.

7. Card Games

A good card game for a mixed-ages group is Uno, if you have a deck. Other games that are easy to learn are Crazy Eights, Hearts, I Doubt It ,and Spoons. If you’re fuzzy on some of the rules for a card game, Bicycle Cards has a free app with rules to 75 card games that you can download. For young children not ready for true card games, I’m a fan of the Spot It cards that don’t require reading or counting (my kids beat me all the time so it’s still fun for grown-ups). The original if fun and there are a ton of spin-offs so you’re sure to find one to suit your group.

8. Board Games

Board games are kind of a no-brainer. Choose based on the age groups you have or break into a kids group and an adult group. Favorites of mine for adults include Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Outburst and Taboo. Good ones for kids are Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, and Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It!.

9. Parlor Games

Parlor games are games for groups to play that don’t require a board or anything purchased. The most classic and well known is charades. If you don’t know any others, here’s a list of modern twists on classic parlor games.

10. Conversation starters

This is less of a “game” and more of a fun way to spark conversations, especially as you’re sitting around the table. Either have guests write a few of their own questions or write them yourself ahead of time and then draw them from a bowl and go around the table taking turns answering them. Questions can be anything you like, such as “Where have you always wanted to travel, but haven’t yet?” or “What is your least favorite food?”or “What’s something most people here don’t know about you?”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 10 Thanksgiving Games to Make the Holiday Fun for Everyone