That's because Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. No tricks or treats, no presents, just an entire day dedicated to eating all sorts of good food, watching football, and other fun Thanksgiving activities. Honestly, what could be better than that?
Along with all the tried-and-true Thanksgiving traditions like watching the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" and cooking a bird in the oven, there are also plenty of other fun things to do on Thanksgiving beyond just eating and sleeping (although it’s hard to improve upon perfection), and there’s no time like the present to take one for a test drive.
Get the gang involved in a Thanksgiving game, or test everyone's holiday knowledge with a round of Thanksgiving trivia. If there are preschoolers or tots in the group, keep little hands busy by making a craft together. Or, bundle everyone up and head outside to draw a masterpiece using sidewalk chalk.
Whatever you’re in the market for this Thanksgiving, we’ve got a list of ideas to help you figure it out. From activities for adults and families to suggestions on how to keep the littlest members of your family busy on Turkey Day, you’ve come to the right place.
All you need to worry about is thawing the turkey and double checking that the remote has a fresh set of batteries. We’ll take it from there.
Play Thanksgiving games
Get the party started this year with a round of Thanksgiving bingo or Turkey Day Pictionary. Kids, adults and the whole family will have a blast engaging in these fun Thanksgiving-themed activities. Choose from a variety of games like I-Spy, crafts for kids and many others that you can find right here.
Host a cookie swap
Kick off the holiday season with a cookie swap on Thanksgiving. It doesn't have to be elaborate given there's already a fair amount of cooking going on already. But since Christmas cookies are next up on the calendar, bake a dozen or two, then exchange them with friends and relatives on Turkey Day.
Celebrate special occasions
Sure, it's Thanksgiving and all, but it's also one of the few times of the year that the entire family or friend group is gathered together in the same place and the same time. Seize the moment by acknowledging and celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other special occasions.
Play an icebreaker game
Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends come together to enjoy good food, football and conversation. If this year's gathering includes new guests, help them feel right at home by playing an icebreaker game or go around the table and ask questions to get to know everyone a little better.
Tell turkey jokes
There's no better to infuse a little humor into the situation than during a family gathering. Gather a supply of Thanksgiving jokes, puns or even good ol' fashioned dad jokes and you'll have everyone laughing around the table in no time.
Hold a Turkey Day scavenger hunt
Swing by the dollar store or use items from around the house to plan a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt. It'll get the crowd up and moving after the big meal, giving everyone a chance to stretch their legs before settling in for a movie marathon.
If you've never heard your sister-in-law take on Joan Jett's "I Love Rock-n-Roll, then now's the time. Whether you borrow, rent or buy a karaoke machine, make belting out some tunes on Thanksgiving a new family tradition.
Make matching t-shirts
Even if you aren't matching t-shirts kind of people, making Thanksgiving t-shirts as part of your Turkey Day celebration is a fun activity that'll get everyone involved. Take plenty of pics of everyone wearing them, then post on Instagram. The best part? Guests go home with a keepsake.
Serve warm drinks
Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and all things winter. Celebrate the cozy by making a seasonal drink for everyone to share. Hot chocolate, apple cider or pumpkin spice latte are all perfect picks.
Ugly sweater contest
Why wait until Christmas to challenge the group's ugly-sweater-wearing skills? Let friends and family know ahead of time to come to Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving decked out in the best of the worst they can find. Offer fun prizes for the winners.
Host a Petsgiving
Don't just invite friends and family over. Make it a Petsgiving by asking your loved ones to bring their furry family members too. Have everyone bring a pet-friendly dish to share, so all the pups and cats can feast along with their loved ones.
Contribute to a cause
Because it's the giving season, after all. Get a consensus on which organization or foundation the group would like to contribute to, then take up a collection. Your annual donation can become a Thanksgiving tradition and is a meaningful way to show your gratitude.
Make a family tree
Take a trip back in time by tracing your heritage on Thanksgiving. Do it through an online service or simply gather everyone together at the table and plot it out on a piece of paper. Invite older family members to share their stories of days gone be. It'll be a lasting legacy for the entire family.
Fill a gratitude jar
Instead of having everyone go around the table to say what they're thankful for, have them write it down on a piece of paper. Collect the sentiments in a jar, then read them aloud one by one. See if guests can guess who said what. When the game's over, save the jar and its contents as a family keepsake.
Play board or card games
Monopoly, Battleship, Scrabble, UNO — it doesn't matter what game you choose, just pick one and have a game-a-thon with friends and relatives. Get everyone in the competitive spirit by offering small prizes (think: dollar store finds) for the winners.
Put a puzzle together
Puzzles are a great family activity, especially on Thanksgiving when things can get a little hectic. Bring a puzzle to Thanksgiving dinner or, if you're hosting, put one out for guests and relatives to work on as a calming break from the action.
Serve signature cocktails
Take Thanksgiving to the next level by whipping up seasonal cocktails — alcoholic or otherwise. Whether it's a pitcher of Thanksgiving sangria or a bubbly cranberry gin fizz, guests will love having a specialty drink all their own.
Host an open house
Hosting a large, sit-down dinner for Thanksgiving can be a daunting task for anyone. Why not break it up by turning Thanksgiving into an open house instead? Relatives and friends can stop by throughout the day, mingle, eat a few appetizers, then be on their merry way.
Assemble care packages
Part of expressing gratitude is recognizing what you've got, then doing what you can to help others less fortunate. Start a Thanksgiving tradition of assembling care packages for members of the military, local shelters or animal rescues. It's an activity everyone can participate in — young or old.
Share Thanksgiving memories
Take turns having guests share a meaningful or funny Thanksgiving memory with the rest of the crowd. Not only does it bring a piece of everyone's personal history to the gathering, it's also an easy way to get to know new faces at the table.
Take a walk
Unless it's pouring rain or snowing, a post-dinner walk is the perfect way to walk off that extra serving of pumpkin pie. Go alone or with the rest of the group. Either way, it's a chance to get a breath of fresh air or take a moment if you need it.
Make a Thanksgiving craft
Hours of food and football can get pretty boring for the little ones, so keep them busy (and happy) by arranging a Thanksgiving craft or two. Pick up easy-to-follow kits at your local craft store or DIY your own Thanksgiving-themed project.
Deliver baked goods to friends and neighbors
Make someone's day with a thoughtful drop-off on Thanksgiving. It doesn't need to be elaborate or even homemade. A care package made up of baked goods (or anything else for that matter) is a wonderful way to let someone know they're in your thoughts and heart on Thanksgiving Day.
Hold an ugly sweater contest
Make it mandatory to show up on Thanksgiving in a hideous sweater. It doesn't even have to be holiday-themed, just terrible. Guests will love the challenge and it's a great ice-breaker. Once everyone arrives, vote on who's wearing the best-worst sweater.
Get started on your holiday playlist
There's no better time to make a holiday playlist than when the whole gang's together for Thanksgiving. Have each person contribute a few of their favorite songs to add to the list, then share the finished compilation with the group so everyone can enjoy it.
Even if you have plans to celebrate with family this year, dedicate part of your day to hang out with your friends or reconnect with old acquaintances. Invite high school or neighborhood friends over for after-dinner dessert, then catch up on old times.
Do something in remembrance
If a loved one is missing from this year's table, then honor them with a meaningful remembrance. Set a framed photo in their place, and make a cherished dish or dessert to pay tribute.
Play Thanksgiving trivia
Where did the Mayflower first land when it arrived on American shores? If you answered Plymouth Rock, then you're incorrect! Eventually the Pilgrims ended up there, but their first stop was in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Answer this question and so many more during a game of Thanksgiving trivia.
Run a 5K or road race
It's never a bad idea to start off a day with a little physical exercise. Your body will thank you for jumpstarting your metabolism.
Decorate Thanksgiving placemats
Some blank sheets of white construction paper and crayons are all the supplies necessary to craft some placemats for the table. Let kids draw pictures of turkeys, then finish it off by writing a few Thanksgiving messages.
Draw names for holiday gifts
If the Thanksgiving crowd will gather again for the holidays, then use time together to plan out a gift exchange. Throw names into a hat and have family and friends choose one person to buy a gift for instead of shopping for everyone.
Play a game of football
Instead of watching your team lose on TV, get everyone outside and play a game of football instead. Those too young or unable to join can cheer teams on from the sidelines.
Take photos for holiday cards
Since everyone's together and all dressed up for Thanksgiving, you might as well get the holiday card photo out of the way. The best time to do it is right after everyone arrives. Once the turkey's been carved and football has begun, it's all over.
Have a movie marathon
Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to binge long movie series including "Harry Potter," "Lord of the Rings" or any Marvel series. Watch them all in order and don't forget the popcorn.
Make an ornament for the Christmas tree
Keep the crew entertained while the turkey is cooking by organizing a Christmas ornament craft. The football crowd might opt out, but otherwise kids, tweens and adults are sure to get involved in the project, especially it means a new ornament to hang on the tree.
Start a new tradition with the family
Shake things up by starting a new Thanksgiving tradition. Watch the National Dog Show together and wager if the Scottish Deerhound is going to take home the trophy for the second year in a row. Go rogue and ditch the same ol' turkey and gravy for a completely new menu that reflects a guest's heritage or family-favorite recipes.
Preserve kids' handprints
Kids grow up so fast, especially when you only see them once a year. Chronicle their progress by making handprints with finger paint or imprinting them in clay. Bring them out each year so children and parents see how much little hands have grown.
Eat out for Thanksgiving
Let someone else do the heavy lifting by going out to eat on Thanksgiving. Though many restaurants are closed for the holiday, quite a few remain open. With no dishes to do or leftovers to wrap up, you'll have plenty of time for football and conversation.
Get down on the floor with the kids and build a LEGO tower or Lincoln Logs cabin It's a project that adults, kids, teens and tweens can all participate in. And let's be honest here, making stuff out of LEGOs never gets old.
B-I-N-G-O spells "good times" on Thanksgiving! Bingo is pretty much the easiest game in the world to set up and play, especially if you're hosting a crowd. Make your own Bingo cards or find Thanksgiving-themed cards online.
Make a holiday shopping list
The year's busiest shopping season is in full swing, so use any down time on Thanksgiving to start pulling your holiday shopping list together. Poll friends and relatives for ideas. You might get some insight into what they're hoping to receive at the same time, making it a total win-win.
Film a Thanksgiving video
Just about everyone has a phone and will likely be using it to capture all the special Thanksgiving moments. Elect someone in the group to make a short video of it all, then share it so everyone has a keepsake of the holiday.
Make a masterpiece with sidewalk chalk
If the weather's nice, head outside with a bucket of sidewalk chalk and create some memorable Thanksgiving art. Or if you'd rather, write some messages of gratitude as a warm welcome to neighbors and guests.
Bake holiday cookies
No time like Thanksgiving weekend to get started on baking Christmas cookies and other sweet treats. Unless, of course, you're exhausted from cooking Thanksgiving dinner. In that case, get a massage and we'll forget this whole conversation happened.
Try out a new recipe (or two)
Sick of sweet potatoes and apple pie? Throw tradition right out the window and make something entirely new for Thanksgiving. Look online or flip through old cookbooks for vintage family recipes.
Unpack the holiday decorations
Decorating the house for the holidays is a lot of work. Be a friend to your future self and get the ball rolling early. Take the decorations out, make sure the lights still work and figure out what you need to pick up during the Black Friday sales.
Go to the movies
After being cooped up in the house all day, going out to see a movie might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best (and busiest) times to see a new film. Scout out times and get tickets ahead of time to make sure you don't miss out.
Map out Black Friday shopping
When it comes to Black Friday, it's crucial that you make a plan — otherwise you'll come home with things you don't really need. Make a list of who you need to buy for, then see where the best prices are. Once you've got a plan in place, map out where to go so you don't waste a single, precious moment on the big day.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com