From delicious dinners and holiday treats to gathering with friends and family, Thanksgiving is one of the year’s best holidays. While there is plenty of entertainment in just gathering together, you may be wondering how you can make Thanksgiving extra special this year.
One great way to mix up your Thanksgiving and holiday experience is to take a Thanksgiving specialty class from Amphy or to prepare fun games and activities in advance.
No matter who you’re having over for Thanksgiving this year, you don’t want to be falling asleep right after dinner. Make the most of the time you spend with your family with these fun family games for Thanksgiving.
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Card Games To Play on Thanksgiving
If you have one or two decks of cards, you have hours of entertainment ahead. Card games are a great way to keep the family engaged and playing together, and these card games are perfect for groups to play on Thanksgiving. All you need for all of the games on this list is one 52-card deck.
Are you prepared for Christmas cards after Thanksgiving? Need advice? Check out Amphy’s 101 ‘Merry Christmas’ wishes to Steal for Your Holiday Greeting Card
The main goal of Hearts is to avoid accumulating points, which are generally earned by taking certain cards like Hearts and the Queen of Spades, during the course of multiple rounds of play. It’s a great game to play on Thanksgiving because it is a social card game that encourages friendly competition among family and friends, and its rules are easy enough for most people to learn quickly. The game can be found at Hearts.Land and on iOS / Google Play, making it accessible for everyone to enjoy without needing a physical deck of cards.
The main objective of Spades is to accurately bid and win a certain number of “tricks” with a partner, based on the strength of your hand and strategic play. Spades is an excellent game for Thanksgiving gatherings because it encourages teamwork and interaction, making it an engaging and fun activity for family members to bond over. For those who don’t have a deck of cards on hand, the game can be conveniently played online at Spades.co and on iOS and Google Play platforms.
3. Old Maid
Old Maid is a game that works best if you only have your immediate family over because it only works with two to six players. Old Maid is one of the most popular card games in the world and is an excellent game for groups with or without children.
Memory is a fun game for large groups and can be played with a standard 52-card deck. Just make sure that you only grab pairs of cards before you begin!
For an extra fun version of memory that can include the whole group, you can set out two separate memory boards with two separate decks. The goal in this version is to match identical cards from the two boards.
The goal of 31 is to get players to 31 points. It’s a great card game for little ones that could use practice adding up numbers over Thanksgiving break. If you want to avoid the gambling aspects of 31, you can play with candy pieces or pennies.
6. Slap Jack
While Slap Jack can only support 2 to 6 players, it is a classic game that can bring energy levels back up after dinner. It’s also perfect for families with small kids because it doesn’t involve lots of strategy or math.
7. House of Cards
House of cards is technically a card game. To play, have everyone involved try to build the biggest house of cards they can… and that’s it. See who in your group can make the biggest house of cards before it falls, or have everyone work together on one large castle of cards.
Spoons is a game that works well with larger groups. To play, put spoons in the center of the table equal to the number of players minus one. The goal is to get four cards of the same kind (all fours, Kings, etc.). Pass each player four cards and place the rest of the cards in a pile next to one player.
The player next to the pile picks up a card and decides if it will help them get four of a kind. If it will, they can exchange that card for one in their hand and pass the discarded card to the person next to them. If not, they can pass the newly drawn card to the next player.
Each player repeats this process, choosing cards to exchange and passing them to the person next to them until one person gets four of a kind. If you get four of a kind, you grab a spoon.
When one player has a spoon, the game ends, and it becomes a free-for-all to see who can get one of the remaining spoons. Whoever doesn’t grab a spoon fast enough gets eliminated. Then, the number of spoons decreases, and the game continues until there’s only one winner.
9. 52-Card Pickup
You can always have children play a little 52-card pickup at the end of any card game.
To make sure that it works as a clean-up technique, tell the kids that they can get a point for each card they pick up and put in a neat pile facing the right direction.
The points-for-neatness strategy will help keep your cards from getting bent out of shape.
10. Egyptian Ratscrew
To play this game, pass cards out until the entire deck is gone. Players should keep their cards in a pile in front of them, face down. Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, each player should pull the first card from their deck and play it face-up in the middle of the table.
If the card is a regular number card, the person to their left plays their card on top. When a face card (or ace) is played, the next player must also play a face or ace card. The previous player gets the whole pile on the table if the card is a regular number card.
The goal of Egyptian Ratscrew is to get all of the cards from the table. Players who cannot put down a card are eliminated from the game.
11. Make-shift Uno
You can play Uno without a real Uno deck by assigning a reverse, skip, wildcard, and plus-two to various face cards. The jack might be a skip; the queen might be a wildcard, etc.- just don’t forget which is which!
12. I Doubt It (Or BS)
To play ‘I doubt it,’ pass out all the cards in the deck. Whoever has the ace of spades in their hand goes first. That player lays their ace of spades on the table.
The player to their left then lays down their 2s, face down. If they don’t have any 2s, they can lay down another card (or two!) and pretend it is a 2. Then the next player lays down 3s, face down, the next player 4s, and so on.
If at any point someone at the table thinks a player is lying about what they have in their hand, they can say, “I doubt it!” The person who laid their hand will flip over the cards they put down. If they did lie about what they put down, they must take the whole pile. If the doubter were wrong, they would take the entire stack.
The first person to run out of cards wins. The other players can keep going to compete for other places if they want to. This game can be played with two decks if you have a particularly large group of people.
You may also like: How to Serve Wine: A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Sommelier if you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year!
One great way to mix up your Thanksgiving and holiday experience is to take a Thanksgiving specialty class from Amphy
Games for Children To Play on Thanksgiving
It’s possible that, as the night drags on, the adults at your family gathering will simply want to sit and talk. Fortunately, there are plenty of games for children on Thanksgiving that involve smaller amounts of adult supervision.
13. Coloring a Tablecloth
You can buy a large brown tablecloth and markers before Thanksgiving and have the kids decorate the tablecloth before dinner. This is a great way to keep the kids occupied while the adults are busy at work in the kitchen.
14. Homemade Twister
You don’t have to buy Twister to play Twister! To make a spinner, you can use a pin and popsicle stick or set up a randomizer online. You can color paper plates and tape them to the floor for hours of fun for the kids in your group.
15. Simon Says
‘Simon says’ is a great game for kids to play. This is a perfect choice if you have a group of little ones and one older kid that can be the leader.
16. Duck, Duck, Goose
‘Duck, duck, goose’ (or duck, duck, gray duck if you’re from Minnesota!) is fun and easy for all kids to pick up. Make sure they have enough space to cause mayhem before you set them up!
17. Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a classic and is especially good for family gatherings. You will likely have children around that aren’t usually in your home, so there will be lots of exciting places for kids to get ‘lost’ in!
Telephone is excellent for Thanksgiving because it’s one of the few times a year you likely have enough people to play. A game of Telephone will keep kids laughing without running around breaking furniture on Thanksgiving.
– Looking for more ways to keep your kids occupied? You may also like: How to Keep Your Kids Busy During Quarantine.
19. Freeze Tag
Freeze tag is a classic game that most kids adore. Let them get some of their energy out by letting them run around playing this classic childhood game.
20. Balloon Games
Whether you set up a volleyball net or you just have the kids keep the balloon from hitting the ground, little ones of all ages will get a kick out of balloon games.
21. Musical Chairs
This game involves an adult, or at least a music controller that isn’t in the game, but it’s still less involved than some other games. Put on some holiday music and set up some chairs, and you’ll have the kids at your dinner playing for ages.
22. Puzzle Piece Hunting
Hide some pieces for a simple jigsaw puzzle around your home, and have the kids look for them before or after dinner. Just keep track of where you put them, so you don’t accidentally lose them forever!
23. Paper Airplanes
Set up a runway and task the children in your group to create the longest-flying paper airplane they can. You can also have the children color and name their paper airplanes for extra fun.
24. Exquisite Corpse Drawings
The name might be a little morbid, but exquisite corpse drawings have been popular as party games for years. Simply fold a piece of paper into thirds and ask the children to draw a head on the top third.
Then, cover the top of the paper, pass the drawing to another kid, and ask them to draw the middle. Repeat for the legs and feet.
25. Draw Hand Turkeys
Have the kids in your group trace their hands on a sheet of paper. Then, they can color in their traced hands as turkeys. The thumb becomes the turkey head, and the other four fingers become turkey feathers along its back.
Games To Celebrate Gratitude To Play on Thanksgiving
If you want to stay on theme and keep your family feeling grateful for the time they get to spend together, there are tons of games you can play to remind everyone what they’re celebrating.
26. Thankfulness From A to Z
This is a great game to play while you eat dinner. Start with one person saying what they are thankful for, starting with the letter A. Then, have the person to the left name something they are grateful for that begins with the letter B. Play on until you get to Z.
27. Passing Thanks
In this game, start with a category. Ask one person at the table what they are thankful for that fits into that category. Once they think of something, they can name another category and pass it on to the person next to them.
28. Thanksgiving Show and Tell
This thankfulness game works best with little ones. Have them bring a photo, item, or something else they are thankful for. Ask them to tell the table about what they brought and why they are grateful for it.
29. Thankful Photographs
This is a great game to have kids play before dinner. Pass out parents’ phones or disposable cameras and ask kids to take pictures of things they are thankful for.
Not only will this game get kids thinking about thankfulness, but it will also create precious, lasting memories in the form of pictures from your kids’ perspectives.
Want to try something completely different for Thanksgiving? Try making something from Amphys Best Dishes from Around the World list!
30. Thanksgiving Drawings
Maybe the kids in your group aren’t old enough to take photographs or can’t be trusted with phones. Fortunately, you can play a similar game with drawings. Have each child in your group draw something that they are thankful for.
31. Skittles Thankfulness Game
To play the Skittles thankfulness game, begin by assigning a gratefulness challenge to each color skittle. For example, red may be “people I’m thankful for,” while green may be “food I’m thankful for.”
Each person (or the children) at the table gets a packet of skittles. They name one thing they are grateful for per skittle in the topic assigned to the color.
32. Thankfulness Contest
This game may seem a little tacky, but it can be engaging for children. Have kids in your group write down as many things they are thankful for as possible. The kid with the longest list winds.
33. Gobble your Neighbors
Have everyone in your group contribute some Thanksgiving-themed items for a basket. Then, do an old-fashioned ding-dong-ditch and leave the basket at one of your neighbor’s houses. With any luck, they’ll pass another basket along to another neighbor until everyone has been ‘gobbled.’
– Do you want to impress everyone with your cocktails at Thanksgiving? You might like, The Do’s and Don’t of Cocktail Making
Virtual Games To Play on Thanksgiving
You may have family that can’t make it to your actual Thanksgiving dinner, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of your fun and festivities. There are lots of games for families to play together remotely for Thanksgiving.
34. Heads Up
‘Heads Up’ is a classic game that has been available on mobile devices for years. Adapted from a game developed for Ellen Degeneres’ TV show, it is a hilarious game that can be played with children and adults.
35. Jackbox Games
Jackbox Games has a vast selection of games that your family can play remotely. Not all games are free, but the platform works well and is easy to understand and collaborate with. Most Jackbox games can host up to 8 people (sometimes more!), and you can play on a tablet or phone.
Codenames is a classic tabletop game that has recently developed an online version. It’s a great game to try and get people thinking on the same wavelength.
Any group with an even number of people can play, but children won’t likely be able to understand the strategies involved fully, so it’s best left to groups with people 12 and up.
Bingo is a great virtual game if you have people in your group that aren’t interested in downloading any apps or games. All you need is one person in your group with a bingo roller. The rest of the group can search for some boards online.
Trivia games are a great and simple activity that can be played on Zoom or FaceTime. You can make the questions as easy as possible and split teams however you like. You can make the questions Thanksgiving, holiday, or family-themed.
You can set up a Jeopardy game either through an online app or by sharing a slideshow. For extra fun, you can make the Jeopardy answers family-themed and see who in the family knows everyone the best.
Pictionary, or some version of it, is available on most devices, but you can also play the old-fashioned way with a drawing board and a timer. Pictionary is a great virtual game choice that can include the children in your group.
Scattergories is another classic family game that has recently developed a free online version. You can also play Scattergories without downloading the online version if one player owns the board game. Just have the other players without the game write the categories down before the letter is chosen.
– Ramping up for the Holidays? You may also like Amphy’s 8 Most Thoughtful Gifts for the 2022 Holidays.
42. Most Likely To
To play ‘Most Likely To,’ all you need are a few ideas, paper for everyone, and a group. Come up with a question that starts with “Who is most likely to…” and have everyone write down their answers. Then, share those answers with the group and see who knows who the best.
Charades is a great choice that doesn’t require any special apps or games. All you need is video call software and teams. Charades are a great way to include children who don’t have their own devices in virtual games.
44. Online Card Games
Most card games have some version that you can play online in groups. Playing cards online is a fun way to keep everyone in your Thanksgiving involved, no matter where they’re playing from. You can play games like poker, Go Fish, and much more.
Ready to try poker online with your family? You might like: 10 Poker Tips That Can Help You Succeed in Real Life
45. Among Us
Among Us is a fun game of deception that can be played in large groups on most devices for free. You can create custom games with rules that best suit your group so that no one is left out. Everyone in your group will need some kind of device to play this game, but it is kid-friendly.
Quiplash has quickly become a favorite for many families looking to play together online. Quiplash is not free, but there are games similar to Quiplash that are.
If you want to play a game like Quiplash for free, check out The Vote’s Out, HappyFunTimes, or Quiplibre.
47. Virtual Escape Room
Many places online now host virtual escape rooms. Escape rooms can be an excellent choice for groups that aren’t able to meet up on Thanksgiving day, virtually or otherwise. With a virtual escape room, everyone will have the chance to work on their teamwork skills.
Classic Thanksgiving Games
No matter the ages of the people attending your Thanksgiving, some games are just classics for the holiday season. These games have been around for dozens of years, so it’s no surprise that they remain family gathering favorites.
48. Sack Race
Have adults and kids alike compete in a classic sack race. Just be careful to set this race up on the grass or carpet, so no one gets hurt if they fall.
49. Egg and Spoon Race
For obvious reasons, egg and spoon races are best done outside with hard-boiled eggs. This hilarious holiday game will have the whole family laughing (and cleaning up eggs) by the end.
– If you’re hosting this year’s Thanksgiving, try one of Amphy’s wine and cocktail classes online and become the best host your family has ever seen!
50. Jigsaw Puzzles
Doing a jigsaw puzzle as a group is a fantastic quieter activity for the whole family. There are lots of puzzles available that are Thanksgiving or holiday-themed to keep everyone in a festive mood.
You only need a stick and plenty to drink to get everyone at your dinner playing limbo. The kids can also play by themselves before dinner.
52. Pick-up Football
Pick-up football is a classic Thanksgiving game. Get the kids (and rambunctious adults) outside to burn off some energy before dinner by setting up a game in the backyard. Just make sure to play touch-only so no one gets hurt.
53. Who Am I?
There might not be anything funnier than watching kids and adults try to guess what they have taped to their foreheads. Prepare some Thanksgiving-themed cards in advance for extra holiday fun.