15 Ways to Entertain Your Kids on Thanksgiving Day

By creating a few new family traditions, you can keep kids busy and entertained on Thanksgiving Day. Whether you’re celebrating with just your immediate family or expecting a houseful of relatives, plan some of these fun activities that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Watch a Thanksgiving Day Parade. The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York is always televised live on Thanksgiving morning. Other cities televise their parades on local stations.

Make homemade butter. Kids can do this all by themselves. Add heavy whipping cream and a bit of salt to a glass jar, put on the lid and then shake, shake, shake. Gradually, the mixture will thicken and you’ll start to see a mass of butter inside. Flavor the butter if you like with fresh herbs, cinnamon or honey, and then serve with Thanksgiving dinner.

Start a Gratitude Journal. Pass around a pen and a notebook and ask family members and guests to write down five things they are thankful for. Give younger children crayons so they can draw pictures of things that make them happy. This activity creates a wonderful family keepsake, especially if you add to the notebook year after year.

Bake a batch of “Thanksgiving Thankful Rolls.” Start by having children write down things they are thankful for on small strips of paper. Next, prepare a baking sheet as directed for your favorite crescent rolls. Have kids add one strip of paper to the middle of each piece of dough, and then roll up and bake according to the recipe (making sure no paper is sticking out or it will burn).

Play a game of touch football. Watching football may be a Thanksgiving tradition, but active kids are likely to prefer playing the actual game. Teach them the rules, divide them into teams and then send them outside to play. For more family fun, encourage the adults to join too.

Go Pumpkin Bowling. Set up plastic bowling pins on your lawn or floor and let kids use small pumpkins (about 4 to 6 inches in diameter) as bowling balls. Hand out prizes for strikes and spares.

Set out coloring pages, word searches and mazes. Buy Thanksgiving-themed activity books at a craft or school supply store or look online to find pages you can print at home. Set these out at a kids’ table with pencils, markers and crayons.

Take a family nature hike. Before dinner, take the kids outside to enjoy the crisp November air. Collect acorns, leaves and sticks for future craft projects and work up an appetite for the Thanksgiving meal to come.

Set up a scavenger hunt. Divide kids into teams and have them search for a list of Thanksgiving-themed items like candy corn, apples, cranberries, feathers, oven mitts, a turkey baster and more. The team that finds all the items first wins.

Write notes to relatives who live far away. Have grandparents or other family members who live out of state and can’t visit for Thanksgiving? Encourage kids to write notes letting them know how much they are missed. Or use an application like Skype so everyone can video chat face-to-face.

Assign responsibilities. Kids love to feel like they are contributing in a meaningful way. Even young children can take coats from guests as they arrive. Ask older children to refill drinks or help in the kitchen by washing dishes and loading the dishwasher.

Pay a tween or teen to chaperone. If you’re having a large holiday gathering where lots of children will be present, consider paying one of the older kids to entertain the younger ones. Have them play board games or read books. Tweens and teens appreciate the cash, and adults appreciate the extra help watching their kids.

Write letters to Santa. Planning to shop on Black Friday? If Santa visits your house, make it a tradition for kids to write letters to him on Thanksgiving so you know what to buy. After all, Christmas is just around the corner!

Create a handprint turkey table runner. When kids cover their hands in fabric paint and press their handprints onto a plain white table runner, they’ll create a festive Thanksgiving centerpiece. Let them draw or paint legs and beaks on the handprints to turn them into “turkeys.” Add new handprint turkeys to the same runner every year.

Make Pumpkin Pie Playdough. Homemade Pumpkin Pie Playdough is easy to make, smells divine and can keep kids busy for hours. Make a batch ahead of time, and on Thanksgiving Day supply kids with rolling pins and cookie cutters to create their very own masterpieces.

–  Alyssa Chirco

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