10 Thanksgiving Activities That Will Keep Kids Busy During Dinner

From printable placemats to DIY scavenger hunts, these activities will ensure you can enjoy your meal (mostly) in peace.


Autumn Tic-Tac-Toe

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski/Getty Images

Set up this festive grid in the center of your kids’ table for a fun twist on the simple game. Before dinner, let them help you paint the tiny pumpkins in any color they want. This game works best with a small table, but you can easily tape more than one grid on a longer table.

Photo and idea from Its Overflowing.

Get the how-to: Autumn Tic-Tac-Toe


Printable Thanksgiving Placemats

Before or after dinner, kids can spend time coloring in these game-filled placemats. There are plenty of games to hold their attention when there’s a lull in the meal.

To buy: $6 each, etsy.com.


Thanksgiving Mad Libs

Nothing is more fun than a silly fill-in-the-blank game, and this is one that all of the children can play together. As a bonus, they might learn a little bit about Thanksgiving history. 

To buy: $14 for 3, etsy.com.


Fall Scavenger Hunt

If the weather is nice, send kids out to the backyard to search for a host of autumn items—like pine cones and orange leaves—while the parents finish dinner. If the weather isn’t cooperating—or it’s too dark to go outdoors—you can host a scavenger hunt in your home, too. Just hide paper turkeys in various rooms of the house, and include a list of clues about where kids can find them.

Photo and idea from Moritz Fine Designs.

Get the how-to: Fall Scavenger Hunt


Apples to Apples Junior

For a kids’ table with older children, this board game is a guaranteed good time. The junior version has easier adjectives and nouns that everyone will know, and it will take them a long time to get through all 576 cards—so there’s a slim chance of boredom.

To buy: $12, amazon.com.


Trivia Game

Keep them entertained and help them learn something with a DIY trivia game. You can find plenty of fun facts all over the Internet, or you can start with our history of Thanksgiving foods and crazy pumpkin facts. Turn them into trivia cards, and set a stack on the kids’ table so they can quiz each other during dinner.


Spot It

For a table with younger children, opt for this card game. Everyone gets their own card with a selection of photos. Then, they see if a photo on their personal card matches with a photo on the center card. If it matches—and they call it first—they get to keep that center card. Play until there are no cards left in the deck.

To buy: $10, amazon.com.


Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

The holiday is all about being thankful, and this scavenger hunt challenges kids to find items in the home or yard that they are grateful for. They don’t necessarily need a camera like the instructions suggest—they can jot down found items, or draw a picture.

Idea from Let’s Get Together.

Get the how-to: Gratitude Scavenger Hunt


Thanksgiving Coloring Book

These custom-made coloring books have 12 pages for kids to fill in before, during, or after dinner. Equip the table with plenty of crayons and colored pencils, and promise to hang up finished artwork on the fridge after dinner as an added incentive.

To buy: $3.50, etsy.com.


Don’t Eat Pete Thanksgiving Game

This is kids’ table gold—it’s a game that involves candy. One player leaves the room, and the rest at the table choose one Thanksgiving icon on the game board to be “Pete.” They place a piece of candy on every square, and invite the single player back into the room. Slowly, the player randomly chooses pieces of candy to eat—until he or she goes for “Pete.” Then, everyone yells “Don’t eat Pete!” and the game starts again. 

To buy: $2 per board, etsy.com.