By Kim McNeill

The turkey is in the oven, the side dishes are waiting to be heated, and everyone is sitting in front of the TV screen waiting through three hours of pre-game commentary before the kick off. While that is perfectly fine, it just might not be how you pictured your big family day. What else can you do? A lot!

1041614651 Guide to Thanksgiving Day Activities


Thanksgiving is a special time in America’s history. The early settlers struggled to survive in this unfamiliar land. They were gratified when they finally learned how to work the land.

We can help others experience the joy of abundance when we serve Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen. Find a local soup kitchen and call to see if they still need volunteers.

thinkstockfamily photo Guide to Thanksgiving Day Activities

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Wrangle Those Relatives

How perfect is this? It is only the end of November. You have many of your family hanging out in your house. They are probably looking a little snazzier than usual. And, if you start early enough, everyone is still getting along.

Get everyone on the couch and in front or behind it, or sitting on the porch, and snap a few pics for the holiday card.

Remember that genuine smiles come from thinking good thoughts. A well-timed compliment can be just the thing to turn a fake smile into a lovely one. Or remind them of that time Uncle Bob didn’t know to take the giblets out of the turkey.

Try to keep the silliness to a minimum until you get a couple of serious shots that might work—unless silly is just the way your family rolls.

Here’s a little tip: Don’t let the men stand with their hands clasped together low in front of themselves. They’ll look as stiff as boards. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.

istock boywfootball Guide to Thanksgiving Day Activities

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Resurrect Touch Football

Grab the sweaters and take off the high heels. The weather is crisp and there are very few leaves left on the lawn.

Divide into two teams and toss the old pigskin. Decide whether you’re playing one-hand touch or two-hand touch. And if you’re playing brothers, make sure you’re out of the way when they move from touch football into full-fledged take-downs.

Then take some pain relievers. Or just play Frisbee instead.

runningthink Guide to Thanksgiving Day Activities

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Turkey Trot

A turkey trot is a run that takes place on Thanksgiving Day. Manchester, Connecticut’s Thanksgiving Day Road Race is an almost 5-mile run. Last year 15,000 runners were registered. While many serious runners participate, many are also seriously trying to win a costume contest.There are also turkey trots in Newtown, Southport, Bedford, and Mystic, which include a dip. Don’t worry you don’t actually have to run – but it’s still fun to line the streets and cheer on the participants.


I haven’t quite decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but last year Black Friday migrated onto Thanksgiving Day itself. While few storefronts actually opened on Thanksgiving Day, cyberspace is always on. A number of big box stores opened their virtual doors with Black Friday level deals.

artscraftsbrandx Guide to Thanksgiving Day Activities

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Crafts with the Kids

Instead of using a tablecloth on the kid’s table, line the area with craft paper from a roll and lay out pencils and crayons at each seat. The kids can draw their own placemat.

The old standby of tracing your child’s hand, drawing a beak and eyes on the thumb and letting them color in the other fingers as turkey tail feathers is a standby for a reason. It is a simple craft that most young kids will enjoy.

Kids (or adults) can cut paper towel rolls every inch to make circles that are one-inch tall. The kids can cover the cardboard by wrapping it with yarn or covering it with colored paper. Then draw on it or put stickers on it to make napkin rings the whole family can use.

Cut out multiple leaf shapes out of orange, red, and yellow colored paper. Cut a tree out of brown paper. Glue the tree down to another piece of paper and have the kids write what they are thankful for on each leaf and the glue it to the tree.

Kim McNeill writes at Nutmeg Families, is a publisher mom withMacaroni Kid of Southbury, Middlebury, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford, Connecticut, a hyper-local community website for families, and also blogs about more Connecticut family fun at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.


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