Around here, we do our best to make sure Thanksgiving Day is as kid-friendly as possible! We like to minimize the work in order to maximize the quality time we spend together that day. This post includes a glimpse in to how we keep things simple as well as a peek at some of the Thanksgiving Day Activities we’ve done in years past with our kids. I’ve included snapshots from over the years, and following Thanksgiving Day this year, I will update this post with even more ideas for you to have on hand for next year!
Let’s start with tips for keeping things simple on Thanksgiving Day:
Tip #1: We don’t usually cook an entire turkey. We typically toss a turkey breast in the Crock Pot the night before Thanksgiving, and it is perfectly yummy by lunch time on the big day. This amount of turkey usually works out perfectly for our crew, but if anyone ever comes to visit us on Thanksgiving, we’ll probably need to make more…as in two Crock Pots of turkey breasts. ha!
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Tip #2: We do as much food prep as possible the day or two before Thanksgiving. I’ve already mentioned how we do the turkey, but we also assemble the green bean casserole as well as make and bake the Pumpkin Pie ahead of time. On the day of, we whip up some mashed potatoes, toss some rolls in the oven, and Bam!
Tip #3: We use paper products! Gasp! I know some may think that’s terrible, but with little bitty kiddos in the house, it works well for us to keep things as casual as possible.
Sometimes we use cute little festive plates like this for kids…
…and sometimes we use all paper products – like these that came from Hobby Lobby*.
Thanksgiving Day Activities
The night before Thanksgiving Day, we go ahead and set the table which includes gathering some activities for the kids and putting a few things at their place settings to keep them occupied during times when they might be waiting at the table the next day.
This reminds me of the year everyone had to wait, because I had some issues getting the mashed potatoes just right, but that story is for another time.
Having a few little crafts and activities on hand has been perfect for spending Thanksgiving Day at home with littles. My secret? I have a basket of goodies ready to go for the big day! Nothing fancy – just picture books and a few projects to engage my kids as we focus on what a special holiday Thanksgiving is for our family.
My other secret? I watch for specials following each holiday and I use those clearance items the NEXT year. For example, one year AFTER Thanksgiving, I had found this Felt Turkey Craft on final markdown at Target. I bought it and put it away in my Thanksgiving Bin – ready to go for the next Thanksgiving.
My seasonal bins include books, crafts, activities, etc. all related to a specific holiday. Here’s a glimpse of a few of the picture books you’ll currently find in my Thanksgiving Bin.
- Bear Says Thanks
- Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration
- Squanto and The Miracle of Thanksgiving
- Turkey Trouble
- Thanksgiving: Turkey Trio Set
- A Turkey For Thanksgiving
- ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
- There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey
- T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story
- One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims
- The Thanksgiving Surprise
- Thanks for Thanksgiving: This one comes with a place to write your thankful thoughts year after year. I love our family’s growing list!
- Thanksgiving is…
- Arthur’s Thanksgiving
- 10 Fat Turkeys
- Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit & Biscuit is Thankful
- Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George Board Book
- The Story of Thanksgiving Board Book & What is Thanksgiving Board Book
- Little Owl’s Orange Scarf: Board Book Version
We’ve included more Thanksgiving book recommendations here.
Seasonal Bins: I have one for Valentine’s Day, one for Easter, one for Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas. This helps me stay organized and provides me with a place to put all of my goodies (including those fantastic clearance finds) so I don’t forget about them when the time comes to enjoy them!
Of the many activities we have done, I think this Pumpkin Pie craft has been the biggest hit of all.
All you need to make it happen is a triangular portion of a paper plate, a handful of orange tissue paper, and a cotton ball or two.
Use glue to attach the tissue paper and cotton balls to the paper plate, and Viola! Pumpkin Pie!
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie: Paperback Available Here
Other Thanksgiving Day Activities:
Family Fingerprint Tree: We took turns adding our fingerprints to the tree, and then we talked about what a gift from God we are to each other.
Download Family Fingerprint Tree Here
We have also used the same printable for simply attaching stick-on leaves.
Scarecrow: This was made with wooden craft sticks, construction paper, and glue.
Leaf Rubbings & Leaf Stampings
Mosaic Pumpkin: These foam pumpkins I found on sale one year at Target have come in handy for all kinds of things, and my preschooler at the time had so much fun gluing small construction paper rectangles on to one of them. He was so proud of how this turned out when he was finished.
It was the perfect little project to pair with The Very Best Pumpkin:
Thanksgiving Day Activities: Free Printables
If your kids enjoy printables, we have LOVED this packet!
It’s includes a variety of Thanksgiving Day Activities for kids of different ages, which means I will probably reprint it again this year…and next.
Pinterest has been a great place for me to find free printables perfect for different seasons – like this super fun Color-by-Number Turkey?
This activity is available here.
For all special occasions, I like to watch local dollar spots, craft stores, etc. for other activities to keep on hand.
*These were found on clearance at Target and Hobby Lobby.*
On Thanksgiving, we enjoy starting the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then at some point during the day, we watch Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. Throughout the morning, we read picture books, enjoy a few activities together (like the ones pictured above), and then we usually eat our big meal around lunch time (with the kids sometimes dressing up like Pilgrims/Indians)…
…and then we put the littlest ones down for their nap. While they nap, we pull out the Christmas decorations and then watch football (and maybe snooze a little on the couch) until the babies wake up ready to go again!
When they wake up, it’s time for sweet treats (More pie, anyone?) and usually another activity…
Leaf Hunt Details Here
…and then we start putting up Christmas decorations.
Long story short, the morning/afternoon is relaxing: the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, picture books, simple activities, naps, etc. – and then the evening is C.R.A.Z.Y….a fun kind of crazy that we look forward to every year.
On Thanksgiving Day when I was growing up, my mom used to gift each of us with a Christmas ornament or Christmas CD. It was such a fun tradition, and we have done something similar a few times here! As our kids get older, I think it will be a fun idea to continue.
- Christmas Books
- Christmas Pajamas
- Christmas Ornaments
Prepping for Thanksgiving Day? Be sure to check out this Walnut Pumpkin Pie! I’m not sure there’s a pumpkin pie in the world that tastes better:
Want to read more about our family’s Lifestyle of Homeschooling? Our daily schedule? A look at our week? I would be honored to share with you how we have adopted a lifestyle of living and learning together and how you can do the same with your own family: