Send this Thanksgiving Mad Libs–style form to every guest.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated November 10, 2020
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There are so many ways to talk gratitude at the Thanksgiving table (or share grateful thoughts—hello, Thanksgiving wishes), but none of them are quite as much fun as this version of the famous Mad Libs. (Yes! Gratitude can be fun!) Thanksgiving conversation starters are great for when everyone is eating, but while the turkey is cooking or the pie is cooling, a Thanksgiving Mad Libs might be the best thing to do, especially if your method of safely celebrating Thanksgiving during coronavirus has everyone spaced out outdoors or on a video call.

If you have family members—ahem, teenagers—who aren’t necessarily eager to get sentimental about counting their blessings, this is for you. Jenny Rosenstrach, author of How to Celebrate Everything (and a mother of two teenagers) created a version of the famous Mad Libs that you can print and place at every plate (or email to your virtual guest list) to jumpstart the whole “What are you grateful for?” conversation.


Thanksgiving Mad Libs is a trick she’s used at her own family table, and now you can, too. Here’s how it works: Leave a printout at each seat—or let this be a cocktail hour activity—or email the link or image below to everyone and have guests pair up. Each person can ask their partner to fill in the blanks (activity, food, verb, noun—you remember doing this in elementary school, right?), and then read the hilarious results around the table. For virtual Thanksgivings or Friendsgivings, ask guests to fill out their gratefulness forms ahead of time and then read them on-screen together.

If you want to be more sincere, let each guest fill out her own. Or put the finished sheets in a stack, read them out loud, and let guests guess whose is whose. They might be completely absurd or make no sense at all, but who cares? At the very least, it’s a break from talking about politics (yikes) or an ice-breaker for a big group that doesn’t all know each other well (or the dreaded awkward Zoom call silence). It’s our special Thanksgiving gift for you—because, sorry, we can’t ship you a pie. Enjoy.