13 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids & Your Family (Easy Ideas to Celebrate & Give Back)

Too often we get consumed by Thanksgiving day, so enjoy time together with these Thanksgiving activities for kids!

Kids are out of school, the house needs cleaning & you need to prepare your Thanksgiving meal. But don’t forget to carve out some family time. 

Thanksgiving Day is filled with families and friends gathering for a special meal, but that doesn’t have to be the only Thanksgiving activity or tradition…

Thanksgiving Activities and Things to Do at Home

Fun Thanksgiving Activities for Kids & Families

Spend Thanksgiving Day with a little less time stressed out, and a little more time building traditions together.

These fun Thanksgiving activities for kids will make the most of your Thanksgiving Day with your loved ones. If you are looking for fun Thanksgiving Week Events in KC, we found those too. You can also find great charities & ways to volunteer during the holidays.

Thanksgiving activities for Kids  |  Things to Do Thanksgiving Weekend  |  Things NOT to do on Thanksgiving

Things to Do on Thanksgiving to Keep Kiddos Busy:

Make Thanksgiving more than just the meal when you…

Read a Thanksgiving Story

Read up on the history of The First Thanksgiving.

Check out a Thanksgiving book at the Mid-Continent Public Library that is family friendly. Talk with your kids about what happened during that time & spark their curiosity!

A Thanksgiving favorite of ours is The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Growler Green. It is a kid friendly non-fiction book geared for kids Pre-K to 5th grade.

Watch a Thanksgiving Classic 

Watch or rent one of our favorites, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for some of the best Thanksgiving activities for kids. While it may not be completely historically accurate, it does make the Thanksgiving story a little more relatable for little ones.

If you’d prefer a more recent movie, check out your local movie theater for Thanksgiving Day showtimes of new movies. B&B Theaters, has several Kansas City area locations.

Thanksgiving Printables & Word Search

There are fun printables for kids to discuss why children are thankful and keep them busy while you’re making Thanksgiving dinner! Check out the Thankful fun printable online OR Thanksgiving Coloring Pages & other printable pages!

Make a Thanksgiving Craft

This year, make some fun Thanksgiving crafts with your little turkeys! There are tons of ideas on Pinterest and Facebook. Some of our favorite Thanksgiving ideas are:

Or check out this video to make a Thanksgiving corn craft.

This Thanksgiving word search is both an educational worksheet and a fun Thanksgiving activity! If you have children of different ages at your Thanksgiving meal, this is great for all of them…

Make Thanksgiving Cupcakes

This is a fun activity you can eat. It’s a great way to keep the kiddos busy while having them help make your family’s Thanksgiving feast!

Make Thanksgiving cupcakes with your family and then eat them during your Thanksgiving meal…if you can wait that long.

If cupcakes are a little too messy for your liking…

Make Thanksgiving Deserts

This Thanksgiving dessert is a little easier to make, so kids can make it on their own if you’re too busy to supervise. All you need are cookies (or store bought vanilla wafers) and some candies to decorate! Get your ingredients now…

Try a Unique Thanksgiving Recipe 

Thanksgiving Day activities don’t have to be complicated. Practice new  or unique Thanksgiving recipes to share at the family meal. You can also check out retro recipes for fun!

Add your favorites to the family cookbook and keep adding to it every year – think about how big that book will be after several generations!

If you don’t have a family cookbook yet, creating one is a fun Thanksgiving activity for everyone in the family…

Turkey Busy Box

Create this felt busy box BEFORE Thanksgiving, then it’s ready to go for Thanksgiving Day!

Whether you’ve got toddlers, preschoolers or other young children, this will be fun while also promoting creativity. Find the instructions to make this activity box online.

Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the most classic Thanksgiving activities for kids. 

Whether it’s a big draw or just background noise, this is always an option. Several local communities have their own parades too, so check your local area!

Holiday Lighting at the Plaza

This is another KC tradition & one of the best Thanksgiving activities for kids. While it doesn’t classify as a parade, the Holiday lights turning on at the Country Club Plaza is one of our favorite holiday happenings.

Make your Thanksgiving a little more magical with the lights!

The annual lighting ceremony begins on Thanksgiving evening where the flip the switched to light up over 280,000 lights! This has been a Kansas City tradition for 86 years, so definitely not an activity your family wants to miss. 

Turkey Trot 

Just thinking about a Thanksgiving meal puts us in a food coma.

Many people have started to participate in Thanksgiving Day races to work off some of the meal beforehand.

There are several organized runs in the area, a popular one being the annual Kansas City Turkey Trot at Arrowhead Stadium. You can sign up for it competitively to run or walk the race or attend by virtually tracking your course on your own.

Find other local Turkey Trots:

If an organized Turkey Trot doesn’t sound like a fit for you, you could always map a route in your neighborhood using an app. This way, your friends and family could do it together before your meal. You might not feel as guilty about all the food you eat at Thanksgiving dinner… 

Some of our favorite apps to use are MapMyRun and RunkKeeper.

Spend Time Outside 

Maybe you don’t want to have a full workout, but spending sometime in the fall weather playing in the leaves is always a fun option. Some simple Thanksgiving activities for kids can often be the most fun…

You’ll be thankful for the memories made jumping in those huge piles of leaves in your yard. Or, play a classic Thanksgiving Day tradition – a football game, or “Turkey Bowl” with family and friends.

…Nothing says fall like cool weather and football!

Watch a Thanksgiving Game, or Play One of Your Own

Of course, there are always NFL games on if your friends and family are fans. These are the teams that will be playing on Thanksgiving this year:

  • Bears vs. Lions
  • Redskins vs. Cowboys
  • Falcons vs. Saints

After dinner, your family and friends could play a Thanksgiving game of your own. Getting the kids involved will be a favorite Thanksgiving activity for years to come…

We’ve found some fun family game night ideas that would work great too. Plus, a good board game is always a good option too.


Activities to Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit:

Support a Solider 

Participate in the Adopt-a-soldier holiday program! This is a great way to support a soldier and/or their family as a way of thanking them for their service.

Many Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast-guardsmen don’t get to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Having a family say “thank you” goes a long way. Here is a link to get started.

Volunteer as a Family

There are tons of places to volunteer with kids in Kansas City. Whether you have little ones or teens, you can find some good options. Volunteering can be a great way to remember what matters most this holiday season..

Take Time to be Thankful and Donate

Reflect on what you are thankful for with these Thanksgiving Day activities:

  • Start a family thankfulness jar. Notes can be added to it throughout the year and then revealed and read out the following year.
  • Take turns going around the room and having each person give their personal reason to be thankful this year. This could be a simple way to remember the purpose of Thanksgiving.
  • Donate your leftover Thanksgiving food to a local charity in need. Not everyone in the community is fortunate enough to indulge in a Thanksgiving meal.

Find ways to donate your leftovers so they don’t go to waste. You can donate Thanksgiving leftovers to Feeding America, Harvesters, Food Pantries, Della Lamb, or other community groups.

Experience Thanksgiving History 

Visit the Mahaffie Stagecoach Farm and learn about life in the 1860’s – the day after Thanksgiving.

This experience can give you a sense of appreciation for all of the fancy amenities we have these days & demonstrates Thanksgiving activities for kids. The farm is open to explore the day after Thanksgiving from 12 pm – 4 pm. Admission is $7/adults, $5/children ages 5-11.

You can even take a stagecoach ride during your visit!

No matter how you slice it, Thanksgiving is more than just a big meal. Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving Day activity or tradition? We want Thanksgiving Day to be a special one for you and your loved ones, no matter what you do. Make the day more than a meal.

There are also activities you should try to avoid during Thanksgiving. There are a few holiday traps involved that you should try to avoid. Here are a few things you absolutely should not do this holiday:


Thanksgiving Activities to Avoid

We all have that hectic Thanksgiving To-Do list…

From cooking to entertaining & everything in between, it can get a little hectic. But, it’s important that in the middle of all of the chaos that we remember what the holiday is truly about…

Enjoying fun activities your loved ones and appreciate all of the things that you have to be thankful for!

Don’t spend all your time shopping.

A few years ago, it was all the rage to start Christmas shopping immediately following the Thanksgiving meal.

That’s not the case this year, as many stores are closing so that their employees can enjoy time with their families.  The “bad” (actually AWESOME) news is that means you get to spend time with your family, too.

There will still be many stores open for Black Friday shopping starting at midnight, but prioritize your family time while also finding the best deals. 

Don’t spend all day cooking and/or cleaning.

I usually cook Thanksgiving dinner.  My stove only has two burners (don’t even get me started!) so, this means I usually get up at 4:00 am to start meal prep.  This is not recommended. 

You’ll be so tired by the time dinner is served, you won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

It’s not realistic to expect one person to cook the entire meal, and that same person to have to clean up when everyone leaves. Consider potluck options, ordering pre-cooked or To-Go Thanksgiving meals, and supplementing as necessary.

Don’t sleep the day away.

I know the Thanksgiving food comma hits us all.

I am the last person to deny anyone their afternoon nap, but please don’t spend the entire day napping.  Find fun Thanksgiving activities for kids you can do as a family. Watch the parade. Try to figure out the recipe for grandma’s rolls. Or, just play together!

If you doze off during the game, just know that smart phones are everywhere, and someone is bound to catch you with your mouth wide open, and your eyes wide shut.

Don’t count calories.

This is a set up for certain failure. Thanksgiving is not the time to go on a fad diet – enjoy the yummy food you’ve prepared with your family!

Leave your calorie counting apps at the door, the macaroni and cheese I baked a few years ago had something like a gazillion calories per serving (and it tasted amazing).

It’s a time to enjoy yourself.


Don’t over-indulge.

Try to get a small amount of all your favorites, and if there is room after that, go back for the rest.

Leave room for dessert… because dessert is awesome and somebody will make a peach cobbler, and a pumpkin pie, and an apple pie…

The best thing about Thanksgiving Day is we all have so many reasons to be thankful.  Don’t let the little things ruin a perfectly good day, and a perfectly delicious meal. 

Spend time with the people you love, and be grateful for the chance to do just that. We hope you can use these Thanksgiving activities for kids to spend a little more time together. 

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From our family to yours, iFamilyKC