17 Clever Thanksgiving Games to Make the Holiday Fun for Everyone in the Family

updated Oct 26, 2022
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Credit: Sarah Crowley

Thanksgiving Day can feel like a marathon, especially if you’re hosting.While your guests await your dreamy holiday menu in your festively decorated home, good old-fashioned Thanksgiving games can bridge the gap between turkey time and pie hour. Whether you’re planning a traditional Thanksgiving dinner or fuss-free Friendsgiving meal , here are 17 ideas for festive games to suit all ages and hopefully keep the political debates at bay this year. 

1. Backyard Football

There are several reasons why backyard football remains a Thanksgiving mainstay for many families. First, it gets everyone outdoors after hours of being inside and gives the kids an outlet post-sugar rush after dessert. It’s also a great unifier that encourages different members of the family to work together towards a common goal, even if that common goal is creaming the other half of the family! Try flag or touch football to keep things safe.

2. Gratitude Pick-Up Sticks

You’ve likely played the traditional game of pick-up sticks growing up, but we love this brilliant Thanksgiving-themed version by Teach Beside Me. Each color represents a different category to be grateful for (think: person, food, wildcard). Every player is sure  to recognize how much they truly have to be thankful for by the end of the game.

3. Pumpkin Tic Tac Toe

This is a perfect pick for the littles, as it’s mess-free and can be played just about anywhere. Created by Toddler Approved, this version uses mini orange and white pumpkins to make the game feel festive while eliminating any worries about stray markers and pens.

4. Word Puzzles

From word searches to crossword puzzles and word scrambles, print out some free, classic word games online to keep your guests busy while the turkey is roasting. To spark some friendly competition, award a special prize to whoever finishes first.

5. Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt

Who doesn’t love an interactive scavenger hunt? Falling into a complete turkey-and-mashed-potatoes daze on Thanksgiving is inevitable. But this game can get everyone up and moving before they have a chance to fall asleep during dessert. There are plenty of printable Thanksgiving scavenger hunts online, and you can simply use household items or fall decorations to lead players clue-by-clue.

6. Heads Up

A group game mainstay, Heads Up is an easy way to entertain your guests with seemingly no effort. For $1.99, download the app to unlock several playful categories. From ‘Blockbuster Movies’ to ‘Act It Out,’ the guessing game’s categories will have your friends and family entertained past pie time.

7. Thanksgiving Would You Rather

Whether you’re looking to entertain the kid’s table or the adults who wish they were at the rowdy table, this is one Thanksgiving crowd pleaser. PlayPartyPlan has over 40 starter questions and fun techniques to keep everyone on their toes. ‘Would you rather take a nap or take a walk after Thanksgiving dinner’ is sure to ignite some debate!

8. Thanksgiving Bingo

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, a drunk uncle, a pet stealing food, or someone starting a story with “When I was your age…”

9. Zoom Games

There are plenty of games and plugins that you can add to your next Zoom session with friends and family if someone comes under the weather. For friends who really get each other’s sense of humor, try Quiplash, a digital game similar to Cards Against Humanity where friends vote on the funniest answer.

10. Turkey Tag

This outdoor game from Let’s Get Together is 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.

11. Card Games

A good card game for a mixed-ages group is Uno, if you have a deck, or Exploding Kittens if you’re up to buy something new (it’s fun and suitable for ages 7+). 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. If you’re having a more intimate Thanksgiving dinner, Slap Jack and Crazy Eights are great options for games to play with just two people.

12. Board Games

Board games with groups 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 for adults include Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Codenames, and Ticket to Ride. Good picks for kids include Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, and Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It.

Credit: Submitted by Jaclyn

13. 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!). The bloggers at Cookies & Sangria have fun list to get you inspired (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).”

14. 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. Or consult our list of the best party games for some fun, modern takes.

15. Top Turkey Artist

This game from Creative Youth Ideas 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 with a sleep mask or a dish towel.

16. “The Best”

The Idea Room describes this game which can be played any time of year. 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. The little ones will be mesmerized for hours.

17. 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?”, “What is your least favorite food?”, “What’s something most people here don’t know about you?”