Thanksgiving Day 2011 Activities for Your Entire Family


I can’t believe Halloween just passed and now we’re headed full throttle into the holiday season.  In less than two weeks, Thanksgiving will be kicking off the festivities.

Most people associate Thanksgiving with turkeys, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.  It’s true that it has a lot to do with the food and how badly you can stuff yourself silly, but more importantly, it’s about being with the family (including your extended family) and being grateful.

Besides eating all day long (or watching Food Network around the clock), watching a game of football (we know how big this gets, especially on Thanksgiving Day) or planning your Black Friday strategy with your shopping list, what else can a family do?

Depending on what your family enjoys doing, there are a lot of things you can do on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve compiled a list of four different activities that can be enjoyable for everyone and budget-friendly or free. Play a game –  What’s a Thanksgiving without playing a good game with the family.  I’m a big fan of playing games at big gatherings because it definitely brings people together into one room (otherwise people are separated into their own corners).  I’ve given some of my recommendations of budget-friendly games in the past, but to my surprise, there are games that are dedicated to Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving Game and Thanksgiving Box of Questions are both based on the same idea.  Since Thanksgiving is a day about reflecting one’s gratitude for life, family and anything you could be grateful for, these games break the ice and also lets you know more about Uncle Joe, Aunt Sally or cousin Eric.  If you want a great bonding experience this holiday, these games should do the trick!

Watch a movie –  I love watching movies during the holidays.  For some reason, it gives me that warm and cozy feeling.  Growing up, we would drink homemade apple cider while we watched movie after movie played on TV.

Since it’s Thanksgiving, my favorite is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving“.  Whether you are young or older, you cannot go wrong with Charlie Brown or better yet, my favorite Snoopy. This movie is a childhood classic and reminds us of the importance of this special holiday.

If you’re itching to go out, then you can opt to watch The Muppets which will be in theaters on Thanksgiving Day.  If you want to save a little money, right now on Amazon, you can get a free ticket with the purchase of an eligible Muppets title.

Read a book -  I’m always looking for good books to read to my kids that are both enjoyable for me and them.  Now that my oldest daughter is in Kindergarten, she has tons of questions about everything and sometimes I don’t have the most clear answers for her.  Reading a good book can always help explain certain things.

Before you head out to the bookstore, go to your local library and get your librarian’s recommendations — trust me they know their stuff.  If you already have certain books in mind, call or go online and see if they have that particular book on hand.  By doing this, not only will you save money, you will save a lot of time.

This Thanksgiving, I want to read The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli, to my children.  A cute story narrated by a little girl who has the not-so perfect Thanksgiving and wonders why she can’t have the perfect Thanksgiving like her neighbors.  However, regardless of how different the families are, she points out that they are similar in that they are all loving.  It has a great message about how we all have different families (sometimes, very eccentric), but we all have the commonality of love.

Volunteer – Personally, if you can, there is nothing better than volunteering on Thanksgiving day.  There are so many people that are less fortunate than ourselves and what better way to show our gratitude than by volunteering.

This can be a difficult task if you have young children because some food banks and non-profit organizations have strict rules on age requirements.  However, if you look online or call the organizations ahead of time, they may be able to give you a task that you can do as a family.  A good place to start looking is Volunteer Match.  You can enter your city and also type in “Thanksgiving” in the search box to find your matches.

I found two organizations that accept children’s participation.  The Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena hosts a “Thanksgiving Dinner-in-the-Park” and as long as the child is accompanied by an adult, they can volunteer.  Another organization based in our capitol, Food & Friends hosts “Slice of Life” where pies are distributed the day before Thanksgiving. They also do food preparation, meal assembly and delivery on Thanksgiving Day.  As a family, you can help deliver these meals to families across the DC Metro area.

Growing up, I looked forward to every Thanksgiving party.  I would get to play hide-and-go-seek on my uncle’s two-acre yard with all my cousins, and do things with the entire family.  It’s a day, you continue on old family traditions and you also create new ones (such as adding pot-stickers to our dinner table).  Whatever you decide to do with your family, it’ll be just as special as the next family.  Happy Thanksgiving!

What are your Thanksgiving day plans?

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  1. ChuckG

    3 years ago

    We’re going over neighbor’s house behind us this year. Usually son preps turkey in morning. We have appetizers for lunch–fresh fruits, veggies with dip. Then we wait for Turkey to be done. Eat. Then sleep. Then in the evening we watch a movie while eating my son’s pumpkin pie.

  2. psutton

    3 years ago

    We create a small poster every year and everyone in attendance signs it and draws a picture or indicates the big moments in their lives for the past year. We’ve been doing it for 30 years and it’s always fun to look back at all the posters.

  3. stella.louise

    3 years ago

    Aw, Paula–that sounds like a lovely tradition!

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