Is that the smell of turkey coming in fresh from the oven? You know what that means, right? We are about to celebrate Thanksgiving! However, it is not just about the food, family gathering, or Black Friday deals. It is also about being reminded of everything we should be grateful for, like just being alive. And with being alive comes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of living it to the fullest!
To help you experience some Thanksgiving fun this season, we have listed 40 of the best Thanksgiving activities you can add and tick off your bucket list!
And since we have a lot of things to celebrate this time of the year, you can also take up the challenge of completing our Fall Bucket List and Halloween Activities list.
Bucket List of Fun Thanksgiving Day Activities, Ideas and Things to Do
1. Arrange a Fall Bouquet
Arranging flowers (let alone a bouquet) can be a daunting task, especially if you have no experience in floral designing. Believe me, I’ve tried (and I did)! However, this activity can be an opportunity for you to learn and grow! Maybe it will become a new hobby for you as well.
There are lots of DIY flower arrangement tutorials and ideas online to help you in making your very own bouquet.
Aside from mums (chrysanthemum, which are the Queen of Fall Flowers), different flowers are perfect for Thanksgiving that add shades of orange, red, yellow, and purple that matches the season. These include celosias, asters, and violas to name a few.
2. Bake A Pumpkin Or Apple Pie
To celebrate the bountiful Fall harvests of fruits and vegetables, baking and eating pies has been one of our traditional things to do on Thanksgiving. Two of the most popular being pumpkin pies and apple pies.
Families all over the country will have their own special twist on these savory desserts. If you don’t have a recipe of your own, that’s fine! You can get started with these yummy pumpkin and apple pie recipes. All of these are yours for the baking:
3. Bake Thanksgiving Cookies
Pies are not the only treats that you can enjoy during Thanksgiving. Cookies add a different variety to the table for kids (and grown-ups) to snack on. And instead of making normal ones, why not step it up by making Thanksgiving-themed cookies!
It can be in the shape or color of anything related to this season: fallen leaves, pumpkins, even turkeys. If your baking skills are not up to much just yet, here are a couple of recipes for these baked goodies:
4. Break The Wishbone From The Turkey
Part of the tradition during Thanksgiving is breaking off a wishbone from a turkey, which is said to grant wishes. Two people will each hold an end of the wishbone and pull it from each other until it breaks. Whoever gets the larger piece will have that person’s wish granted.
During ancient times (specifically the Etruscans and Romans), they believed that birds held magical properties, from which the tradition came from. Whether you believe in it or just in it for fun, what matters (and something that we should strive to do) is turning those wishes and dreams into reality.
5. Craft a Turkey Crown
Aside from preparing for the food and decorations, you can spend some fun quality time with the youngsters by making a turkey crown! Kids will surely love it when they wear it while celebrating Thanksgiving, especially if they helped make it with their little hands.
Making a turkey crown is inexpensive and easy to do. With some cardboard or construction paper, autumn colors, and glue or stapler, you (and the kids) are one step away from making one. And as always, have fun and enjoy the process with them!
6. Create A Centerpiece For The Table
Centerpieces showcase the central theme of the occasion to the tableware. Since we will be celebrating Thanksgiving, adding one to your dinner table will help bring a more festive feel to the kitchen.
You can have different approaches to this one. Aside from the silver/bronze-type centerpieces, you can make one using flowers, candles, even fruits or vegetables. All you need is a large vase or bowl to serve as the base of your centerpiece and then add in the decorations of your choosing.
7. Do A Random Act Of Kindness
“How do you change the world? One single act of random kindness at a time”. That was a beautiful quote from the movie Evan Almighty. And I can say it rings true.
With so many things to be thankful for this season, spreading positivity to others through acts of random kindness goes a long way. Those seeds of kindness will then grow and inspire them to do the same.
It can be as simple as greeting your neighbor with a smile, letting your younger brother or sister have that last piece of chocolate, or showing your loved ones how much you love them.
If you need more ideas see our article: 75 Random Acts of Kindness Ideas: Examples of Nice Things to Do
8. Donate To The Food Bank
Donating to a food bank is one of the ways we can give back to the community. By sharing our blessings with others who need them, we make our community (and the world) a better place. You can check for food banks in your area where you can donate to. If there are no food banks near you, you can check for food pantries instead.
As to what to donate, it may vary for each food bank or pantry. A good rule of thumb is donating food with a long shelf life or nonperishable food, like canned goods and pasta/rice.
9. Eat Pie For Breakfast
Having pie as your breakfast meal might sound weird for some (if not most) people. It is like having ice cream or cake when you wake up. However, it is not as bad as you might think it is. Together with your morning coffee or drink, it might even become your new breakfast favorite!
If you have some left-over pumpkin or apple pies from last night, now is your opportunity to try them for breakfast! You can also make a more breakfasty pie using sausages and eggs. We found some delicious recipes online too, which all take an hour or less at most to make.
10. Get Creative with Thanksgiving Coloring Pages
Make some Thanksgiving color pages come to life by adding some colors to them! The fall season has different shades of earthy colors that you can choose from, like red, brown, orange, and green. But of course, don’t let that limit your selection of colors.
Since we are getting creative on this one, now is the time to explore different coloring techniques and materials. If you have kids in your home, let them in on the fun as well!
Below are some great Thanksgiving coloring books that you might like:
11. Get Lost in a Corn Maze
Cornfields and tall grasses usually add a creepy setting, especially in horror movies. However, don’t steer clear from these just yet!
Most farms turn their cornfields into corn mazes (with unique designs) to attract visitors and make extra cash during the fall season. Some corn mazes also allow pet dogs to come with you. Different farms also add a more scary theme, especially when night comes.
What awaits you at the end of the corn maze? Well, it’s for you to find out! Navigating (and getting lost) is a thrilling experience that you definitely should include on your bucket list!
12. Give Thanks at the Table
Thanksgiving is one of the days where we can reflect upon and be grateful for everything that happened in our lives. Whether it is good or bad, there is always something for you to be thankful for. Don’t believe me? See our large list of Things to Be Thankful For Today.
If you are not that much of a talker, that’s fine! You can always prepare a list of the things you want to give thanks to beforehand. It doesn’t have to be a long, elaborate speech as well. All it takes are a few words of appreciation that come from the heart.
13. Go Black Friday Shopping
Nothing screams holiday sales than Black Friday! With so many good deals and finds, you’ll have trouble where to start. Not to mention the large crowds of people it attracts who are doing the same shopping as you. You might be tempted to shop online instead, but where’s the fun in that, right?
So when is the best time to go shopping on Black Friday? Early hours of the day, like 2 AM – 6 AM, are recommended due to the low number of shoppers. Retail stores also usually give out schedules and the deals they will be offering in advance, so you may have to check it out first.
14. Go on A Picnic
Going on a picnic during the fall season is the perfect thing to do to get a breath of fresh autumn air and take some downtime. Seeing the color of fallen leaves and the excellent autumn scenery is an activity that never ceases to amaze me. You might even have the chance to take some pictures for your Instagram!
This is also a chance to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Nothing beats the warmth of eating, drinking, and having a good time with them.
Aside from going to the local park, you can also make your picnic extra special by visiting some of the best fall foliage spots in your state.
You can even pack a traditional wicker basket with your favorite picnic foods and enjoy the feast. Real Simple magazine can help you out with their Picnic Packing Checklist. If you want to set up an Instagrammable picnic, here’s a cute red checkered picnic basket.
15. Go to a Farmer’s Market
Since we are talking about abundant harvests, visiting a farmer’s market is one of the best ways for you to see this. With lots of different farm-fresh products to choose from, you will be bringing home with you a feast and ready for Thanksgiving. Nothing beats the taste of fresh veggies, fruits, and turkey straight from the farm.
In the spirit of the season, it is also one of our ways to thank our farmers for their time and hard work on the goods they pride in. It gives a different perspective on being grateful for the blessings that we are giving and receiving.
16. Host A “Friendsgiving”
You have friends, and then you have Thanksgiving. Put them together, and, as you may have guessed, you’ll have Friendsgiving!
Friendsgiving is an unofficial holiday that you celebrate with your friends. And since it is a more relaxed version of Thanksgiving, you get to celebrate it however and whenever you and your friends want!
If you have not done this in the past yet, you can start by hosting the very first Friendsgiving with your friends. You can initially go with the typical stuff you usually do on Thanksgiving. Then you and your friends can just add your very own Friendsgiving menu and traditions!
17. Have a Thanksgiving Movie Marathon
Compared to other holidays, there are not a lot of movies for Thanksgiving. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a Thanksgiving movie marathon!
Some movies that you (and your family) might enjoy this season are The Turkey Bowl (2018), Free Birds (2013), The Blind Side (2009), Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). Though some of these are not really meant for Thanksgiving, you will definitely be left feeling good at the end of each movie!
You can also ask your family for some movie ideas for the movie marathon night. Once you have compiled a list, you can sift through it with your family and finalize it.
18. Jump in a Pile of Leaves
Autumn season has come, and the leaves have already started to fall on the trees. You know what that means, right? A chance to make a leaf pile and jumping on it! Though raking the leaves can be a tiresome task, the fresh air and just going outside your lawn pretty much make up for it.
Jumping on a pile of leaves is almost like a rite of passage during the autumn season, so if you have kids in your family, or if you haven’t experienced it yet, then you are missing out! Just make sure to check for sticks and stones to avoid any accidents before jumping right in.
19. Knit a Scarf
With all the preparations and festivities coming this fall, it’s good to sit down and unwind, even for just a little bit. Knitting is one of those calming and relaxing activities you can do at your own pace, especially with some hot chocolate or apple cider on the side.
As the air becomes a bit chilly, a scarf would be the perfect garment to make this fall! It is also great for beginner knitters who are just starting out. You can use the usual autumn colors for your scarf to match the season, or if you are making it for someone else, you can use their favorite color instead!
For an uber-soft scarf use this alplaca yarn or this chunky chenille!
20. Learn To Cook a New Dish
Want to change things up for your typical Thanksgiving feast menu? Then it is time to learn a new dish to add something fresh to the table! You can test the waters by trying a different twist to the usual Thanksgiving dishes first, then expand to something you will never expect for the season (may my Homemade Beef & Mushroom Chili Recipe?)
Studying a new dish to cook not only tests you to go outside your comfort zone. It also opens you up to new flavors that you never knew existed before. Your family will definitely look forward to the new dishes you will make for your next Thanksgiving!
21. Learn To Say Thank You In 3 Different Languages
How many ways can you say thank you? In more ways than one! We have different ways to express our thanks. It can be in the form of a gift, treating them with their favorite food, or even just telling it to them personally. But what about saying it in three different languages, like gracias, merci, or mahalo?
We live in a world rich in different cultures and diversity. Learning to say your thanks in another language can make it more personal to the person you are saying it to. You might even catch them by surprise if you do so!
If you are a bucket list overachiever than Learn to Say Thank You in 10 Different Languages
22. Look Through Family Photo Albums
Every once in a while, it is fun to settle down and look at your family photos. You’ll probably realize the things that have changed throughout the years and be grateful for all of the memories you made (and captured!). You might also get to remember some funny and embarrassing moments and have a laugh with your family.
But of course, it does not stop there, right? There are lots of new things to experience and discover out there! So I will be leaving you with this question: What new memories will you and your family add to the family album next?
23. Make a Cornucopia
For those not familiar with this one, a cornucopia (also called the horn of plenty) has been a symbol of abundance since ancient times. It is represented as a horn-shaped container overflowing with different crops and fruits. It is only fitting that it made its way to the Thanksgiving season and is best used as a centerpiece for your table!
Making a cornucopia is relatively easy. You will just need a horn-shaped basket and stuff it with fresh vegetables and fruits fit for the season. Other people also use horn-shaped bread instead of a basket, so you might want to use it for your cornucopia as well!
24. Make A Fall Wreath With Fallen Leaves
Wreaths add a nice touch of the season to your doorstep, and what better way to make use of the fallen leaves this fall than to make them into one!
What’s good about this one is that you don’t need a lot of stuff to make one, just a lot of fallen leaves. Plus, it is also simple to make! You can also get more creative by adding other autumn flowers or berries to make it more dynamic and lovely.
With the different blends in color and style, you’ll be making an inviting fall wreath that welcomes visitors to your home!
25. Make a Thanksgiving Craft
What better way to put you in a festive mood than engaging yourself with some Thanksgiving crafts! Aside from exercising your creative muscles, you’ll have the opportunity to express yourself more in the process. The sense of accomplishment from making your own personalized craft or decoration is always a welcome feeling!
It is also a great family activity to do for the season, especially with the kids! What’s more, you’ll be able to bond with them at the same time.
You can find a lot of Thanksgiving crafts ideas online for both kids and adults, so you won’t be at a loss on what to make!
26. Cook a Turkey
Turkey is one of the main (if not THE main) meals for Thanksgiving, and no dinner table will be without it.
If you already know how to cook one, great! You can volunteer to cook the turkey this Thanksgiving for a change with your very own (or your family’s) recipe.
If not, then make it a challenge to learn it this season! It takes a while to cook a turkey (around 3-4 hours), but the preparation itself is not as hard as it seems. It is so satisfying to learn and will probably be one of the essential skills you can use whenever the need comes.
27. Make/Drink An Apple Cider
The fall and winter holidays are never without some hot apple cider to warm you from the inside. However, have you ever tried drinking one? If not, try finishing a hot or cold cup of apple cider as a challenge this season. And don’t worry, it’s not alcoholic!
Now, if you have always wondered how they make these, then wonder no more. Why not try your hand at making your very own apple cider at home! Aside from adding your own flavor to it, you’ll also appreciate the work put into making it more.
Here are two recipes for you to try: Hot Apple Cider and Holiday Spiced Cider
28. Pick Out Your Christmas Tree
With different holidays happening from fall to winter, preparing things ahead is never a bad idea. That includes picking out your Christmas tree!
Christmas tree farms usually put up Christmas trees for sale as early as mid-November, so that means you’ll get first dibs on the best ones! You’ll also get the chance to experience firsthand how to look for one. When watered well regularly, the trees will last for 4 to 6 weeks.
If you are going for the artificial ones, then it is best to buy one during Black Friday so that you can grab them at a discount!
29. Play Board Games
Put down your phones and get ready to challenge your family by playing some good ol’ board games! It is a great way to pass the time and serve as an ice breaker during family gatherings like Thanksgiving day. It is also a fun way to introduce to kids if they haven’t played board games before.
You’ll have a wide selection of board games to choose from, each with its own unique gameplay that you and your family will surely enjoy. From word games like Scrabble and Boggle to testing your steadiness in a game of Jenga, there are tons of ways to have a good time!
Not sure which games to play? Check out this list: Board Games Bucket List: 50 of the All Time Best Ones to Play
30. Play a Game of Touch Football
If you hadn’t tried playing American football before but wanted to experience it (without the tackling and stuff), then touch football is a must-try for you!
But what is touch football? Touch football is a more recreational version of American football. The rules are similar: The attackers (the team with the ball) need to place the ball on the opposing team’s scoreline. However, unlike American football, the opposing team only needs to tag the one who has the ball to stop them.
If you have a big enough yard, you can set this up at home. You can also do this in a park with a large, flat surface, probably during a picnic trip.
31. Play Pin the Feather On the Turkey
Have you ever played Pin the Tail on the Donkey? You can play a fun variation of the game this season with Pin the Feather on the Turkey! With just a few pieces of cardboard and some colored paper (for the feathers), you can make your very own turkey! Or just buy one.
How the game is played is pretty much the same: each player takes turns trying to pin the feather on the turkey while blindfolded. For added style points, you can add some funny consequences at the back of each feather for the players to do if they missed to pin it on the turkey!
32. Play Thanksgiving “Would you Rather” Questions
Another game that you can do in the comfort of your own home is asking “Would you rather” questions for Thanksgiving. Not only will it serve as a good ice breaker, but it will also leave everyone asking “what” and “why” to each other while having a laugh!
You can write down some Thanksgiving-related questions that can either be hilarious, witty, even thought-provoking. You can also check online for some great Thanksgiving “would you rather” ideas.
Or you can also involve everyone by having them make their own “would you rather” questions to ask others. Be sure to remind everyone to keep it friendly!
If it’s just the two of you, then here’s 125+ Would You Rather Questions for Couples (including dirty ones!)
33. Play Thanksgiving Bingo
Bingo is one of the go-to games that never fails in providing an enjoyable bonding time, especially during Thanksgiving. Nothing beats the excitement of being the first to scream “Bingo!”. What’s good about bingo is how easy it is to play and involve everyone, from kids to adults!
You can make your very own Thanksgiving bingo cards from scratch with just some paper and other art materials to design them. It is also a great crafting project to do with yourself or with the kids.
If you don’t have time to do some crafting of your own, don’t worry! We have some printable Thanksgiving bingo cards for you to check out instead.
34. Play Thanksgiving Charades
Some say that actions speak louder than words, so let’s find out in a game of charades! Let your inner mime out by creatively doing poses/actions and guessing the words being acted out. And since it is for all ages, you can have the kids and adults on the fun. The game also doesn’t really need much to play; even just a pen and paper will do!
If you want to try something similar to charades, you can play Pictionary instead. Though it will require additional writing materials and (a bit of) drawing skill, it is equally challenging and fun!
35. Put on a Thanksgiving Play
Another way to entertain your family is by putting up a Thanksgiving play. Since we only get to celebrate this once a year, doing a short skit showing our thanks and appreciation for our family will help build a stronger bond with them.
Aside from doing your own script, you can also find some Thanksgiving play scripts online, especially for the kids. Spark your kids’ creativity by encouraging them to put on a Thanksgiving-themed play. They’ll love stealing the spotlight after dinner!
Though they might probably forget their lines at times, what matters is sharing the moment with everyone together.
36. Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle
If you want to enjoy something during your alone time, you can try your hand at solving a jigsaw puzzle! I can say from experience that solving one is not that easy, especially if you are working on a 1000-piece puzzle.
Having to focus on solving a jigsaw puzzle takes your mind away to a much-needed break from the worries and troubles that you may have, even for just a bit. It also has some positive benefits like improved short-term memory and problem-solving skills.
Depending on the difficulty, you might be spending a couple of hours or even days to complete it, but it is well worth it in the end!
37. Read a Thanksgiving Story
Thanksgiving is about being grateful and realizing what truly matters, which inspired a lot of stories regarding it. But that doesn’t mean that it is always about gratefulness.
With so many different takes on the Thanksgiving season, you’ll have plenty of genres to choose from, ranging from inspiring true stories to drama, even murder mysteries!
You can find plenty of Thanksgiving stories and books to buy at a local bookstore or online. With a good book at hand, you’ll never have to worry about going on long trips or waiting for long hours. So just sit down, have a drink or two at the side, and get lost in the story.
38. Run The Turkey Trot
Want to burn off some extra calories before the feast on Thanksgiving? Then sign yourself up for a Turkey Trot race! Think of it as a fun run that takes place on or before Thanksgiving. Aside from the usual running attire, you can even dress up as a turkey for the race!
Most states have their own Turkey Trot race event, usually spanning 3.1 miles to 9 miles depending on the area. If you feel that it is too much distance to run, don’t fret. You can organize and do a family-only Turkey Trot of your own instead!
39. Set Up a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt
Keep the kids busy as you prepare for Thanksgiving by setting up a scavenger hunt around the house! It allows them to engage in some sort of physical activity while having fun looking for things in the process.
You can also guide them as they do the scavenger hunt to build a better bond with your kids while teaching them life skills like teamwork.
If you have lots of kids coming over, you can split them into different groups for a friendly competition. And to make them more excited, have a prize ready for the one who can complete the list first.
40. Start a Grateful Jar
Grateful or gratitude jars are a great way of reminding ourselves of the things we are thankful for. Each paper inside can be the name of people who made a lasting impact on you, blessings in your life, even a quote that inspired you!
There are pre-made gratitude jars that are already filled with inspirational quotes. However, you can also have your very own gratitude jar to make it more personal. And the best part is you get to add more into it as time goes on, not to mention how easy it is to make one with only a glass jar and some art materials like strings.
41. Take A Scenic Drive To Look At The Fall Colors
With how busy we are preparing for Thanksgiving, it’s no surprise if we are somehow cooped up inside our homes. It’s always a nice change of pace to take a drive outside and enjoy the scenic view of the fall colors every now and then to relax and destress.
You can make a planned trip to one of the scenic fall views in your area or state. For those “spur of the moment” moments, you can make a quick trip to a local park or place where you can enjoy the fall scene after doing groceries. And of course, don’t forget to take pictures for remembrance!
42. Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade
Parades are a festive way of highlighting and celebrating the holiday, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Different Thanksgiving parades are being held annually around the country, with the largest one being held in New York. But lucky for us, we can view it in the comfort of our own homes via live telecast.
That is not to say you can’t join in on the fun, right? If you live in New York, you can watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade up close and personal along with the crowd. You might also get to take pictures and videos of the celebration!
. . .
Now that we have reached the end of our list, I would love to know which of these Thanksgiving activities made it to your own bucket list!
Though Thanksgiving is a day where we get to celebrate and show our thanks, that doesn’t mean that it stops once the day is over.
As much as possible, we should show our gratitude and let the people we love know how much we love and appreciate them every chance we get. And like I said at the start of the article, we should be thankful for having the opportunity to experience these things and live our lives to the fullest.
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