Grateful for Fun: Family Thanksgiving Crafts, Games, and Activities

Keep your kids busy this Thanksgiving with an assortment of activities that they are sure to love. Make easy crafts that can serve as seasonal décor and play exciting themed games. These fun ideas will keep the whole family entertained for hours.

Everything in this slideshow

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Gobbler Place Cards

Sweeten up your table with these turkey pals, quickly and cleverly constructed from cupcake liners.

How it's done: Flatten a standard-size cupcake liner, then draw eyes on a mini cupcake liner. With a glue stick, adhere a beak and snood cut from colored paper. Using a brush or cotton swab, dab white glue around the rim of the mini liner. Set it off-center on the larger liner, as shown, and let it dry. With the glue stick, attach the turkey to a folded tent card (we used decorative-edge scissors to cut ours from brown card stock). Add turkey feet and a name with marker.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Coloring-Book Tablecloth

Turn the Thanksgiving table into a giant art canvas to get kids -- and grown-ups -- happily doodling. Cans from the dinner preparations, cleaned and dried, make handy holders for crayons and colored pencils.

How it's done: Use kraft paper, art paper, or wrapping paper to cover the table; if needed, use several lengths, taping them to each other. Keep it in place with large binder clips or painter's tape (test tape on the table's underside to ensure it won't damage the finish). With black marker, draw place settings and other shapes to invite coloring.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Adorable Acorns

Launch this project with a collecting expedition (no oak trees in your neck of the woods? Order acorn caps at acorno.com), then craft a bunch of these cuties as napkin ties and table decorations.

How it's done: For a tie, remove the caps from 2 acorns, using a craft knife (an adult's job). With a glue gun, squeeze a dab of glue into each overturned cap. Lay the ends of a 12-inch length of ribbon into the caps, add another drop of glue, and top with a pom-pom (we used 3/4- and 1-inch sizes). To make loose acorns, omit the ribbon and adhere a pom-pom to the cap with a drop of glue.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Glimmering Gratitude Mobile

With disks that catch the sun and spin in the slightest breeze, this project looks so pretty hanging near the table. Plus, its message -- take time to count your blessings -- is powerful.

How it's done: Invite everyone to jot down a few things that inspire gratitude in them, using a white marker on circles cut from translucent report covers (available at office supply stores; a 2 1/2-inch circle punch makes cutting them easy). Write "We're thankful for ..." on a larger circle. To assemble the mobile, knot embroidery thread onto the inner ring of an embroidery hoop, then extend it across to the opposite side, knot it, and trim. Repeat with 3 more lengths of thread to create 8 spokes, as shown. Gather the threads together at the center and knot a loop of fishing line around them for hanging. Punch holes in the circles, then hang them from the hoop with thread.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Itsy-Bitsy Pilgrim Hat

Be sure to grab some pics of everyone in the family modeling this petite topper.

How it's done: Print our template below. Cut it out, then trace the hat and brim onto black card stock and the band onto brown card stock. Cut the buckle from gold card stock. Fold in the hat's tabs and roll it into a tube shape. Use a glue stick to secure the side tabs and to attach the brim, hatband, and buckle. With a glue gun, adhere the hat to a black headband. Allow the glue to dry completely before wearing the hat.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Gourd-geous Photo Display

Dig up interesting family snapshots to create this sweet conversation starter. For added cheer, ask guests to use the photos' flip sides to jot down a few words -- any funny or fond memory about the depicted event or person.

How it's done: Brush gourds or mini pumpkins with primer (this step helps the paint stick and the colors pop, but it can be skipped if you're pressed for time). With a hammer and a thin nail, make a hole in the top of each (an adult's job). Paint the gourds with acrylic paints. Loop a 12-inch length of floral wire around a marker to make a coil at one end, then slip it off. Insert the other end of the wire into the gourd.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Shipshape Dessert

Pay tribute to the voyage of the Mayflower with this finishing flourish.

How it's done: Cut paper into a sail with gently angled sides, as shown. Decorate it as desired and add a simple message such as "Give Thanks" or "Happy Turkey Day." Cut two small slits in the paper and slide it onto a coffee stirrer. Stick a sail in each pie slice.

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

The Gang's Here for Thanksgiving!

The family's gathered from near and far -- so make the most of it! These get-moving activities, giggle-inducing games, and group crafts will boost the fun factor and keep spirits high

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Nature-Hike Wreath Craft

Here's how your crew can take in some lovely local sights and end up with a take-home memento, too. Give each family member a plastic bag, then head for a pretty park or trail, where everyone can collect fallen leaves, bark, pinecones, twigs, and other nature finds as they walk. Back home, hand out wreath forms cut from cereal boxes (ours are 7 inches wide) and bottles of tacky glue for attaching the objects. Add leaf-shaped nametags cut from cardboard or card stock. For hanging, glue a large paper clip to the back of each wreath.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

Play Tail Feather Tag

To start, each player colors a clothespin with a marker, then uses glue dots to attach googly eyes and a craft foam or felt beak and snood. The decorated pin is clipped to the back of the player's shirt. At "Go!," everyone tries to steal each other's clothespins without losing his own. When a player's clothespin is taken, he's out. The last person with a turkey still attached wins the round.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

3 Walking Games for Kids

A pre- or post-feast constitutional does everyone good. If your crowd needs a little extra encouragement, try these ways to spice up a stroll.

1. Found Sounds: Choose three "trigger" sounds, such as an airplane engine, a person sneezing, and a bird's chirp. Start walking single file. When the group hears a trigger sound, the last walker runs to the front of the line. Continue until everyone has had a turn in front.
2. Poets on Parade: Take turns creating a poem-on-the-go. Start the group off with a simple line like "I really love to take a walk" and have each player in turn add their own rhymes ("Except when I forget my sock" ... "And then I step upon a rock" ... and so on).
3. Mad Moves: Every two minutes, one walker names an action -- running, hopping, skipping, tiptoeing. Everyone does the named action for ten seconds, then returns to a walk until the next player's turn. To add a challenge, increase the length of the action by ten seconds each round.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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How to Make a Mayflower Centerpiece for Thanksgiving

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

A Quick Craft That'll Last

These handprint place cards take just a few minutes to make but will grace your holiday table for years. Pour brown and red washable paint onto paper plates. Brush palms and fingers with brown paint, then make prints on sheets of card stock. Add red thumbprints for the turkey's snood. Trim the card stock into a square. With a marker, write names and draw turkey legs. For a frame, glue on twigs, then let it dry.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

Turkey Egg-tivities

Dig last spring's plastic eggs out of the closet to use for Thanksgiving entertainment.

Gobbler-Egg Hunt
Stash fun stuff -- sweets, trinkets, paper slips bearing jokes or funny observations about Grandpa's ears -- inside plastic eggs. While a grown-up hides the turkey eggs around the house, have each child decorate a gift bag with colorful tape and stamps and ink. Let the hunt begin. The kid who gathers the most gobbler bounty gets the first slice of pie.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Photograph by Joe Polillo

Turkey Egg-tivities

Dig last spring's plastic eggs out of the closet to use for Thanksgiving entertainment.

Roller Birdy
Have each player make a turkey as shown at left, using glue dots to stick on a pom-pom head, googly eyes, felt nose and snood, and feathers to a plastic-egg half. Set each turkey over a large marble. On a smooth floor, see who can roll her bird the farthest, or set up a croquet-style course using chairs as wickets.

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Wreath of Plenty Craft

Each note of gratitude pinned to this leafy wreath only improves its lush look. Set out blank leaves, pens, and straight pins and ask guests to add what they're thankful for.

To make the wreath:
Wrap a 12-inch Styrofoam wreath form with strips of fabric, securing them with ball-head straight pins. Cut leaf shapes from card stock. Crease each leaf in half to add dimension. To hang, pin a loop of string to the back of the wreath. Tip: Use light-colored gel pens to write on darker paper.

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Marshmallow Pilgrim Hat Treats

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Drumstick Hunt Game: Make the Drumstick

Paper turkey legs play hide-and-seek with Thanksgiving guests in this twist on an Easter tradition.

To make the drumsticks:
Trim the top of a brown paper lunch bag so that it's about 7 inches tall. Smooth the bag around your fist to shape it, then stuff it with newspaper or scrap paper. For the bone, unfold two white napkins and crumple one of them into a ball. Drape the second napkin over the ball and twist it to form the narrow part of the bone. Insert this end into the paper bag, and secure it with tape.

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Drumstick Hunt Game: How to Play

Make one fewer drumstick than you have players (the hider doesn't need one). Someone hides the drumsticks around the room while the other players keep their eyes shut. The players then race to find the drumsticks. As soon as a player has one, she stops looking and waits for the others to find theirs. The first person to find a drumstick gets to hide them in the next round.

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Well-Dressed Turkey Craft

This bird's fancy feathers are made from scraps of fabric and floral wire. Attach the plumage to a bread basket to create a functional centerpiece.

You will need:
22-gauge floral stem wire (cut into 8 18-inch lengths)
Tacky glue
Disposable plate
Cotton swab (optional)
Fabric in coordinating prints
Googly eyes
Felt scraps

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

How to Make a Feather

1. For each feather, shape a wire stem as shown, then twist the ends together.
2. For the head and body, pinch a wire loop into a two-lobed shape.
3. Pour a shallow puddle of glue onto the plate.
4. Holding onto its twisted end, dip the wire loop into the glue. Remove it and use a cotton swab or a finger to cover any parts of the wire not covered with glue.
5. Gently press the loop onto a piece of fabric so that every bit of the loop touches. Let the glue dry completely.
6. Cut out the shape, trimming as close to the wire as possible.
7. Stack the feathers, then wrap a wire stem around the gathered ends. Poke the ends of that wire through the side of the basket and twist them together to secure.
8. Glue googly eyes and a felt beak and snood to the head. Loop a wire stem around the twisted ends. Insert the ends of that wire through the basket and secure them as you did with the bundle of feathers.

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Popcorn Pacing Game

Burn off a few calories with a goofy outdoor relay race that has the ecofriendly side effect of providing food for birds and squirrels.

Divide your group into teams and give each team a large bag of plain popcorn and two shoe cups. The first runner on each team slips the cups over his shoes and fills them with popcorn. At "Go," the players make their way across the lawn, empty their popcorn into a box, and race back to the start. The next teammate in line slips on the cups and follows suit. The relay continues until one of the bags is empty. The amount of popcorn in the boxes is measured, either with a ruler to find the depth or by scooping out the popcorn and counting the number of cups filled. The team with the most popcorn is the winner.

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

How to Make the Shoe Cups

You'll need a pair of these for each team. Use a small nail or pushpin to poke a small hole in the bottom of a plastic cup. (Choose plastic cups that aren't brittle; we used Solo brand 9-ounce cups.) Push a wide rubber band through the hole. Thread a paper clip onto the band inside the cup as shown and gently pull on the other end of the band.

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Hats Off for Crayons Craft

Fill these pilgrim hats with crayons, cover the kids' table with paper, and let your young guests draw all over the "tablecloth."

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

How to Make a Hat

For each hat, trim the bottom from a black paper cup. Cut a circle of black card stock that's about an inch wider than the top of the cup. Run a line of glue around the cup's rim and press it onto the circle. Use our template to cut the hatband and buckle from card stock. Weave the band through the buckle, wrap it around the cup, and glue the overlapping ends of the band together. When the glue is dry, place crayons into the hat.

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Thanksgiving Kid Craft: Pilgrim Hat

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Photograph by Doug Merriam

Pick a Pepper Craft

Make a flock of wee turkeys, and kids will flock to them and their sweet-pepper tail feathers.

Use our template to cut each turkey's head, beak, snood, and feet out of card stock. With marker, add pupils to paper eyes made by a hole punch. Assemble the turkey, then glue it to the side of a stemmed plastic cup. Put a few dollops of vegetable dip in the cup and add slices of bell peppers.

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of FamilyFun

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