Thanksgiving Fun – What to Do After Thanksgiving Dinner

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Creative thanksgiving fun for the family - What to do after Thanksgiving dinner

Creative Thanksgiving Fun

I was going to put off writing this a few more days, but time seems to be speeding by faster than usual this year.  I was afraid if I waited any longer, Thanksgiving would have passed before I remembered to give you these ideas. I know that after that big meal most of us take a nap, watch a football game, or play computer games but this year you might try something different. Here are some ideas about what do do after a Thanksgiving meal.

Before your company arrives, set out some board games. Have some games available for all different ages. Put them out in the open where everyone can see them. You will be surprised how many guests will say, “I haven’t played this in years and used to love it!”

Have a stack of family photo albums sitting out for everyone to go through, laugh over and remember. This is a great way for kids to learn family histories. It is also fun because when you see an event in a picture and remember it, you’ll find that your brother or sister will probably remember it totally differently. It is fun for your kids to hear Uncle Bill’s version and how it differs from mom’s or dad’s version of the story.

Have a small table set up with a puzzle on it. I like to put together a Christmas puzzle and if it doesn’t get done that day I leave it up all through Christmas. Then when the kids, grandkids or anyone for that matter come over, they always seem to love adding a couple of new pieces to the puzzle. I have a puzzle of a cute Nativity scene that I always try to have done by Christmas Day.

Having these things set out ahead of time helps to entertain everyone while the last minute meal preparations are being made and to keep some unneeded help out of the kitchen. This year, don’t let your family park themselves in front of the TV or computer once again, but get creative with your Thanksving fun! Put out the games, puzzles and photos and start learning to have fun together in a completely different way.


photo by: Mark Strozier


  1. Cheri Ellis says

    I loved your ideas for getting people away from the TV. We always try to keep the TV off when we have company….what good is it to have people over if you can’t visit with them.

  2. says

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone Our family always gathers together for Thanksgiving and after the dinner we have a “Tallent Show” Every one is welcome to take part, from little up. One year our 6 yr old granddaughter was shy but wanted to take part. Her parents took a video of her playing the piano and then played the video as part of the show. we have had magic shows, displaying a new quilt just finished, a poem written about family, singing etc. One of the men took an old trophie from little league , removed the ball player and bought a Turkey and fastened it to the trophie base. After all talent is seen there is a secret vote. The one gets the most votes gets the trophie for the year, bringing it back the next year for Thanksgiving. This has been the process for over 20 years. We are now into second generation performers.

  3. says

    No matter where we went for family reunions, Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. the TV was mysteriously broken. (fuses back then made that easy.)
    One side of the family were great dancers so we had dancing where the little ones learned ball room dancing from my aunts and uncles and parents. I can do the fox trot, waltzes, charleston can I do the twist the funky chicken, or any of the dances of my era No but the old ones I can do no problem.
    It was outside walking playing tag or just sitting around talking.
    If anyone said they were bored they got sent into the kitchen to help the kitchen workers. I was always bored because I loved to cook.
    Nothing special was ever planned but each holiday was great.

  4. Bea says

    Simple old-fashioned fun is always so much nicer than everyone sitting around ignoring everything but their cell phones.

    • says

      I’m with you there Bea. As much as I try to embrace the new technology even if I don’t like it people not putting their cell phones to even talk or anything is a pet peeve of mine. To be it is just down right rude and no reason for it what so ever I don’t care what the excuse is. I don’t even answer my regular phone if I have someone in my home that I am visiting with. To me it is like saying to me “I’m not really the least bit interested in you or what you are saying to me and I would rather be doing things on my phone then listen to what you have to say.” Tawra has had people come over to visit with her and the minute they walk in the door their phone rings, they answer and visit on the phone for 30 mins. or more while Tawra is wasting her time standing there waiting for them to get off of the phone and it wasn’t even an important call they were just chit chatting. Totally rude in my opinion. As you can tell it does get my dander up.

      • Jan says


        It really is beyond rude. It is the new ADD; it is an old-fashioned word, “scatter-brained”; it is self-absorption…I could go on. It’s as though their
        brains have changed now and that’s that. If a call on Thanksgiving night is an emergency, that is different, but probably pretty unlikely.
        The art of conversation and just schmoozing over a puzzle or board game is being
        lost, and that is a bad thing!

  5. Maggie says

    There will only be my son, husband and I for dinner this year so we are going to a neighbor’s house. We always talk about the time the oven didn’t work and we had to make a quick run to MacDonald’s for burgers or the time the turkey wasn’t done until 10 pm. So, it will be fun to share these memories with another family and hear some of their remembrances. Thanksgiving is a time to share friendship and family. To each of you, who read and write in this website, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving Day and a joyous holiday season.

  6. Bea says

    I totally agree with you Jill. Simple courtesy seems to be in short supply these days. I even saw a wedding invitation that stated “your cell phone is not invited”. It’s sad people would ignore people at their own table, to talk to someone who calls on their cell phone, just to shoot the breeze.
    Also, the post office around here has a sign that says when you go to get waited on at the window no cell phone talking is allowed. It just holds everyone up timewise. How rude is that?
    Also, at restaurants and stores people will hold up the line in order to talk on their phones. What is wrong with people? I really think manners should be taught in schools. And yes I agree it shows the person that is physically there that they are not as important as a caller. Just plain rude.

    • Jan says

      I work at a cash register. Some customers will spend their time waiting in line talking the whole time, and when I’m “ringing them up”, they just continue. I
      just complete the transaction quickly, and never look up and never say goodbye.
      They wouldn’t hear me anyway.

  7. says

    When I was a kid, there were no cell phones or computer games and during Thanksgiving Day, the only time the tv was on was to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. My grandmother might do some of the meal prep at a TV tray watching it, something simple like cracking nuts.

    We were never bored. My mom and grandmother would catch up about our far flung family and we’d listen and look at pictures that my aunt sent or one of her funny funny letters. For the younger kids, my grandmother always stopped at Woolworth before we came and shed have a new toy for them to share and play with at her house. Or she’d cover a TV tray table with salt for the kids to draw in or use cookie cutters, but we were never bored. And we didn’t need TV or adults attention to keep us quiet or entertained.

  8. says

    When we were at the farm for any of those celebrations with family us kids would help my aunt and uncle do the chores.
    They must have been saints because when the 2 of them did it all year they would take about 1 hour. With 15 helpers aged teens down to 5 year olds it took about 4 hours. We would go up in the hay mow and toss down hay, we would go and keep the cows patient while being milked. We would gather eggs from the strange places chickens found to hide them. We would put out bowls of fresh milk for the cats in the barn.
    Like I said 4 hours.
    This gave the other aunts and my grandmother time to get the next meal ready.
    To kids living on a farm this would not be the adventure it was to us town kids. We had a blast.
    So if there is something you do all the time let the kids who don’t help. they learn a new skill and have fun in the adventure.
    I taught my grandson how to make a simple meal of tomatoe soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. He was 6 and was so proud of himself. His parents both work and it was a rush to get a meal on the table so they hadn’t taught him how to cook. Now on a weekend or when he is alone with the younger ones he can feed them no problem.
    He is 12 now and has graduated to bigger and better things but he remembers how grandma taught him his first meal.

    • says

      This is so true. Even chores that they have to do at home can be more fun at grandma’s house for some reason. I would have the kids help me make my bed showing them how to make hospital corners and get every thing straight. They loved it. My one granddaughter said she loves Nan’s bed because it has no “wrinkles” in it. :) They even loved doing dishes at my house. One of them I would save up my dishes when I knew she was coming because she loved washing them so much she would just beg me to wash the dishes.

      This summer I am planning a cooking boot camp with my granddaughters. They know many basics but we will practice and learn some more. I haven’t forgotten my boys. I have shown them too but the older ones are of the age that it is more exciting to drive with their new permit then to cook at this point so I will probably be out on the roads with them practicing. I am already turning grayer thinking about it. :) :)

      It is so true that many kids aren’t learning these skills (cooking etc.) as much. That is part of reason for writing Dining on a Dime. There was a whole generation who hadn’t been taught basic cooking because mom had gone to work and was too busy. In some cases mom didn’t know herself. At the time I wrote it most people didn’t have internet and there were no good cookbooks which just taught good old fashion cooking and basics they were all specialty or gourmet cookbooks.

  9. Bev says

    We love to shoot clays and targets after Thanksgiving dinner. It is a fun activity we all enjoy and it brings us all together. It is a time to share hunting stories, laugh, kid around and have a good time. The kids are in their late teens and early twenties, opportunities for this will be diminishing and changing.

  10. Christy says

    This year I will have the joy of having all of my children and their spouses and my 2 young grandchildren plus my 90 year old mother in our home for Thanksgiving. I enjoyed reading your suggestions and traditions. I am thinking about an inside scavenger hunt. Little pre-Christmas type of gifts. I’ll make up clues for each guest and let them wonder around looking for their special gift. My little grandchildren will really enjoy hunting through Nana’s house until they find their prize! Even adults will enjoy it and their clues will be more involved!
    I am going to set up a Christmas puzzle as someone suggested. That ought to keep them occupied and out of my way in the kitchen!
    One more thing, my family enjoys going outside after a big meal and we visit our beloved loved ones grave sights. The little ones are very interested in this and look forward to going to “visit” their great grandparents! Don’t laugh, it’s a Southern thing to do!
    Thanks everyone and have a blesses Thanksgiving Day.


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