29 Fun Things to Do on Thanksgiving—Besides Eat!

by Rachel Lipszyc

November 24, 2022

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If there’s one thing Thanksgiving is known for, it’s the feast. We spend weeks planning for favorite side dishes, hours roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, and let’s of course not forget those delectable pie recipes we crave for dessert! Once you’ve reached your food quotient, it’s time to step out of the kitchen and start brainstorming fun things to do on Thanksgiving. Luckily, there’s no shortage of options! From thoughtful ways to connect with older generations, such as looking at photo albums or inquiring after heirlooms and collections, to more active endeavors like Turkey Trots and fall porch decorating, our list of unique Thanksgiving activities has something for every speed.

Looking for wholesome Thanksgiving activities for families? Play a gratitude game, or gather around a fire pit. How about things to do on Thanksgiving for adults? We’ve got you covered with plenty of porch decor ideas, simple centerpieces that take almost no time to make but pack a big punch, and solo options such as reading a great book or shopping online. Also necessary: Thanksgiving activities for kids such as Turkey crafts and hunting for mini pumpkins.

After you’ve exhausted this list and are ready for more activities to fill the long weekend, mosey on over to our Fall Activity Bucket List or peruse our collection of 75 simple fall crafts to get your creative juices flowing. However you decide to spend Turkey Day, we guarantee you won’t be bored—and that you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.

1.Learn About Family Heirlooms

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to ask Grandma about her China collection, or that quirky display of cast iron skillets on her kitchen wall. She’ll appreciate the conversation, and you’ll walk away with a newfound appreciation for your family’s most sentimental pieces.

 2.  Take a Drive

Back in your hometown for the Thanksgiving holiday? Cruise past your favorite places while you wait for the table to be set. In an entirely new destination? Get out on those backroads and take in the beauty of the natural surrounds.

3. Create a Simple Centerpiece

Add instant charm to your cooking or dining space with this inventive display idea!

To make: Cut pieces of floral foam to fit in the bottom and middle colanders. Push colanders into foam to help them stay in place. Place pumpkins around the bottom and middle colanders and completely fill the top colander. Add bittersweet sprigs throughout.

4. Plan a Kid-Friendly Craft

Get the little ones in on the fun of decorating the table! Cut out the turkey, arrange the napkin within it as pictured, then set out a few crayons and let the fun begin!

5. Play a Gratitude Game

Let guests spin to unveil six slices of life (Family, Friends, Travel, Home, Pets, Work), each of which is intended to conjure a memory for which they’re grateful.

To make: Segment the center of a paper plate into six sections; write prompts in each. Cut a smaller round from colorful craft paper; remove one “slice” for category window. Attach wheel to plate with a gold brad. Attach jute rope to rim with hot-glue. Add stenciled letters. (For Thanksgiving, try “Lattice Give Thanks…”)

6. Plan a Photoshoot

Now is the perfect time to rope your nearest and dearest into a seasonal photo op to share on social media.

7. Adorn Your Front Porch

Expecting company later? Make their greeting more festive by adding a few cozy touches to your front porch. Added bonus: a ladder of blankets will make post-dinner porch convos even cozier!

8. Look at Family Photos

Take a stroll down memory lane with your older relatives by paging through family photo albums. After all, Thanksgiving is nothing if not the perfect time to share stories from past events both big and small.

9. Get a Jumpstart on Black Friday

Able to find a few minutes alone? Treat yourself to a wardrobe upgrade with one of our favorite fall clothing essentials to shop on Amazon. (Dibs on that Teddy coat!)

10. Play a Game

Whether you simply make your own tic-tac-toe board or decide to try your hand at something a touch more involved, Thanksgiving games are always a great way to entertain the whole gamily.

11.Gather ‘Round a Fire Pit

A family gathering around a roaring fire is pretty much a no-brainer on a crisp fall night. Who wants s’mores!?

12. Read a Book

Picture this: you, a warm blanket, a hot mug of tea, and a can’t-put-it-down-page turner. Does any Thanksgiving activity sound more enjoyable than that?

13. Set Up a Backyard Tailgate

It’s football season! Celebrate your family’s favorite team the old-fashioned way with a pop-up tailgate in the driveway at home. Don’t forget the cozy chili recipes and party dips.

14. Collect Food Donations

For a truly feel-good activity, collect canned goods and other non-perishable food items to donate to your local food bank.

15. Host a Pie Swap

Ask guests to bring two pies, one for sampling and one for divvying up and taking home. Bonus points if you bring copies of the recipe to share! Three to try: Ginger Pumpkin Pie, Salted Caramel-Apple Slab Pie, and Pecan, Hazelnut, and Coconut Tart.

16. Craft a Family Heirloom

Take inspiration from television personality and cookbook author Nancy Fuller, whose linen table runner features the signatures of family members. To create your own version, have family members write their names with a disappearing ink pen, and then stitch over the hand-lettering.

17. Plan a Pint-Size Parade

Take inspiration from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and round up your wheels—bikes, wagons, scooters—for a “mini” version of a parade down the driveway or a low-traffic neighborhood street. (Psst: It’s a good way to keep the kids out of the kitchen.) The entrant with the most spirit gets first dibs on dessert!

18. Go Leaf Peeping

Pile the fam in the car and cruise around town looking for the most vibrant fall color. Or turn the outing into a color-themed scavenger hunt, and see whether you can find everything from yellow mums to red maples.

19. Cross-Stitch by the Fire

All things embroidery are having a moment, so settle in on your home’s comfiest chair and join in on the trend with one of Country Living‘s easy, free cross-stitch patterns, including our harvest corn pattern.

20. Write a Letter to a Soldier

Head to Operation Gratitude to learn more about how you can show your support to members of our nation’s military via letters, care packages, and other #VirtualVolunteerism efforts to give back from your own home.

21. Interview Family Members

Not sure where to begin to document family history? Print out these Thanksgiving conversation cards to get started. Another thought: Hire a silhouette artist for an afternoon to create custom hand-cut portraits you’ll cherish forever.

22. Host Your Own Turkey Trot

Organize your own version of a family Turkey Trot, whether it’s a one-miler, 5K, or something in between. First turkey across the finish line gets all the leftovers!

23. Take in the Views

There’s something to be said for gathering as a family and pausing for a moment to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings—and the people you’re sharing them with.

24.Hunt for Mini Pumpkins

Why leave all that hiding and seeking to Easter? Plant miniature pumpkins around the yard and challenge kids to see how many they can pick in a predetermined amount of time.

25. Play Ball

Tossing around the pigskin is a classic post-feast activity. Not a football fanatic? Consider other pursuits such as horseshoes, bocce, or cornhole.

26. Watch a Holiday Classic

You know what pairs well with a second slice of pie? A movie. Take your pick from the best Thanksgiving movies on Netflix or cue up a family-friendly classic like A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

27. Play Pumpkin Checkers

Nothing beats sitting on the porch on a crisp autumn day while playing a round of checkers with a loved one or little one. Replace the usual game pieces with mini pumpkins for a decidedly fun fall touch.

28. Go Pumpkin Bowling

Arrange bowling pins—or, if preferred, gourds—in a classic 10-pin formation, then watch as players roll a pumpkin down the makeshift lane. Line the path with hay bales for an extra country touch.

29. Play Neighborhood Bingo

This downloadable game provides the perfect excuse to get out and take a neighborhood stroll after the Thanksgiving meal.


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