With 20 cousins, aunts, and uncles, holiday gatherings in my family are never dull. But, instead of being cast-off in a room somewhere else, the “kids table” is always close to the “grown-ups” table. It’s not often that we all get together, so this rare occasion is reason alone to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate family than to organize a couple of fun games or activities that brings the younger generation together with the older family members and creates plenty of opportunities for smiles and laughter.
From island-wide treasure hunts and campus-wide scavenger hunts, to competitive Pin-The-Tail-Feather-On-The-Turkey games and Wii tennis matches, the activities we organize are open to all family members, regardless of age. You can organize similar activities for your family this Thanksgiving, taking inspiration from the games below. And, maybe your family is like mine, where the cousins outnumber (and often outwit) the aunts and uncles… seeing your eight year-old nephew go up against your 43 year-old brother-in-law is always entertaining.
- Pin-the-Tail-Feather-On-the-Turkey: Like Pin-the-Tail-On-the-Donkey, but with a homemade turkey drawing on the wall, and craft paper tail feathers in your hand. Blindfold each “pinner,” and spin them around a couple of times before letting them go. To outsmart those smart people, it’s best to draw your turkey on a large rectangular piece of paper, so they can’t try to feel for the edges of the turkey to figure out where the tail is.
- Go Turkey: Like Go Fish, but instead of placing the cards on the ground, put them in a turkey-shaped bowl for a little bit of fun.
- Turkey Bingo: If you have kids, help them create and decorate Turkey-themed bingo boards and have a family-wide bingo game. Make sure to have a special turkey prize for the winner, too—chocolate turkey anyone?
- Thanksgiving Boat Game: If you have little kids, this might be a fun one to play that won’t get too competitive. Each child will get a milk carton “boat” and a balloon. Have them insert the balloon into the boat and blow up the balloon. Everyone lets go of the balloon at the same time, and the expelling air propels the boats all around the map. Once they get the hang of it, this game will keep young children entertained for hours.
- Pick Two: With a bag of Scrabble tiles, deal out 7 tiles to each player (I find this works best with one bag per four players). Place the remaining tiles in the middle, face side down. Each player must arrange the tiles, as you would in Scrabble, in a free-form fashion in front of them (no board), so there are essentially four different mini Scrabble games going on. Once a player runs out of extra tiles, they shout out “pick two,” and every player takes two new tiles from the center pile. Throughout the game, you can rearrange your tiles as needed. The person who uses up all the tiles first (with real words that make sense) wins.
- Turkey Hunt: Like hide and go seek, but better. For added fun, make the person hiding dress up as a turkey, or at least wear a turkey headdress.
- Bowling with Butternuts: A fun game from Martha Stewart. What child doesn’t love bowling? Make sure you choose a pumpkin “ball” that is small enough for the youngest kids playing the game to pick up.
- Photo Booth: This can be both situated indoors or out, depending on what you prefer, but we suggest outside where your characters can stand near harvest decorations (think cornstalks and hay bales), or near a beautifully colored tree. If you want to set it up inside, create a mural, maybe with the ocean and the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria in the background, to hang on the wall. Make sure you supply a native-American costume and pilgrim costume that will fit your guests.