If you haven’t yet decided on how to celebrate your Thanksgiving day then here is the guide for you. This guide is beneficial for all may you be a couple, a single person, a family with kids or a party-loving adult. Alongwith the 45+ fun things to do on Thanksgiving day, I have also added some additional tips on Thanksgiving Food and Dressing Ideas.
So stick till the end and make notes for what you’re going to take out of this guide.
Thanksgiving, a deeply cherished American holiday, is a day dedicated to expressing gratitude and coming together with loved ones, often celebrated with a grand feast.
This holiday commemorates not only the well-known 1621 harvest meal shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth, symbolising cooperation and unity between Native Americans and European settlers, but also has roots in an earlier event.
In 1565, a significant yet lesser-known , the real first Thanksgiving took place in St. Augustine, Florida, where Spanish settlers and the Timucua people shared a meal, predating the Plymouth gathering.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, it’s important to embrace and remember these multicultural aspects. Both events reflect the spirit of gratitude, community, and the coming together of diverse cultures.
Recognising this rich history encourages a more inclusive celebration, honouring both the Native American and European contributions to this holiday’s origins.
Things to do on Thanksgiving night
Thanksgiving is not just a day celebration, it lasts till late at night and gives you the opportunity to have fun with your family and loved ones. Here are some Thanksgiving night ideas for you to make this night memorable and fun.
1. Share family photo albums
Create a cosy atmosphere by gathering the whole family to look through old photo albums. It’s a chance to share stories, reconnect with memories, and appreciate how everyone has grown. This simple activity strengthens family bonds and celebrates your heritage on Thanksgiving night.
2. Play Thanksgiving trivia games
Engage in a fun-filled family trivia game about Thanksgiving. It’s an excellent way to challenge and entertain guests of all ages. Create teams among family and friends, prepare questions about Thanksgiving traditions, and enjoy a night of friendly competition and learning.
3. Decorate with Christmas lights
Usher in the holiday spirit by decorating your home with Christmas lights. Involve the entire family in this festive activity. From stringing lights around the windows to creating a dazzling display in your garden, it’s a joyous way to start the holiday season.
4. Sip hot chocolate together
Gather around with steaming cups of hot chocolate. This is a perfect way to wind down after a busy day. Share stories, enjoy each other’s company, and let this simple pleasure bring warmth and togetherness to your Thanksgiving evening.
5. Enjoy Thanksgiving feast leftovers
There’s always plenty of food left after the big meal. Get creative and make a fun activity out of enjoying the leftovers. Whether it’s turkey sandwiches or reheating dishes, it’s a relaxed and satisfying way to extend the Thanksgiving feast.
6. Start Christmas tree decorations
Begin the Christmas season by decorating your tree. This family tradition is a delightful way to involve everyone. Selecting ornaments, stringing lights, and placing the star on top, turns this into a memorable and joyful activity for the entire family.
7. Organize family board games
Clear the table and set up for a night of board games. Choose games that cater to all ages and enjoy the laughter and competition. It’s a fantastic way to bond and create new Thanksgiving memories.
8. Craft fall wreaths
Embrace your creativity by crafting fall wreaths. This Thanksgiving craft activity can involve all family members. Use leaves, twigs, and autumnal decorations to create unique wreaths that can decorate your home or be given as gifts.
9. Host an ugly sweater contest
Add a touch of humour to your Thanksgiving night by hosting an ugly sweater contest. Encourage everyone to wear their most outrageous sweaters. It’s a lighthearted activity that guarantees laughter and fun, making your Thanksgiving celebration uniquely memorable.
Things to do on Thanksgiving for Couples
Thanksgiving for couples can be both romantic and fun. It’s a day to cherish your relationship and create special memories together. From cooking a meal together to watching the sunset, here are some ideas to make your Thanksgiving as a couple unforgettable.
10. Cook Thanksgiving dinner together
Spend the evening in the kitchen, preparing a special Thanksgiving dinner with your partner. This is a chance to share recipes, enjoy each other’s company, and create a meal that’s uniquely yours. From choosing the menu to setting the dinner table, every moment is an opportunity for connection and creating new memories.
11. Volunteer at soup kitchen
Make your Thanksgiving meaningful by volunteering together at a local soup kitchen. This experience allows you to give back to the community while spending time with each other. It’s a powerful way to share the spirit of Thanksgiving and reflect on what you’re thankful for in your lives.
12. Exchange holiday gifts
Create a tradition of exchanging gifts on Thanksgiving. Select something meaningful for each other, symbolizing your gratitude and love. It’s a heartwarming way to start the holiday season, making Thanksgiving not just about the big meal but also about the special bond you share.
13. Plan Christmas decorations
Spend the evening planning your Christmas decorations. Discuss themes, choose colour schemes, and think of creative ways to decorate your shared space. This activity not only gets you into the holiday spirit but also allows for collaboration and creativity in your relationship.
14. Create a gratitude jar
Together, create a gratitude jar. Throughout the evening, write down things you are thankful for about each other and your relationship. This simple yet profound activity helps you focus on the positives in your life and deepens your appreciation for one another.
15. Enjoy pumpkin spice lattes
Take a moment to relax and indulge in pumpkin spice lattes. Whether at home or in your favourite café, this warm, flavorful drink epitomizes the essence of the season. It’s a sweet, simple pleasure that you can enjoy while reminiscing or planning your future.
16. Take a fresh air walk
Embark on a leisurely walk, soaking in the crisp autumn air. Walking hand in hand, you can enjoy the fall colours, the quiet streets, and each other’s company. It’s a peaceful way to step away from the day’s hustle and truly connect.
17. Watch Thanksgiving parades
Snuggle up and watch Thanksgiving parades together. It’s a relaxing and festive way to enjoy the day. Share your favourite floats, reminisce about past parades, and enjoy the spectacle and joy that these parades bring into your home.
18. Begin a new tradition
Start a new tradition together. This could be anything from writing a joint letter of thanks to future selves to crafting a fall wreath. This is about creating something unique to your relationship, something you can look forward to each Thanksgiving.
Things to do on Thanksgiving Day with family members
Thanksgiving is the perfect time for family bonding and creating lasting memories. Whether it’s through traditional activities or trying something new, there’s plenty to do that can bring the whole family together. Here are some family-friendly activities to make your Thanksgiving Day joyful and memorable.
19. Join the turkey trot race
Start your Thanksgiving Day with a family entry into the local turkey trot race. It’s a fantastic way to engage in some healthy competition and laugh together. Whether you run, jog, or walk, it’s about participating as a family and enjoying the community spirit.
20. Prepare a big Thanksgiving meal
Gather in the kitchen to cook a grand Thanksgiving meal together. Assign tasks to each family member, from peeling vegetables to basting the turkey. It’s a great way to teach cooking skills, share family recipes, and foster togetherness. Enjoy the chatter, the teamwork, and of course, the delicious result.
21. Tell family’s history stories
Dedicate time to sharing stories about your family’s past. Let each family member tell a tale about their childhood, special family moments, or funny incidents. This storytelling session is a wonderful way to connect generations and preserve your family’s history.
22. Make Thanksgiving day crafts
Set up a crafting area and engage the family in making Thanksgiving crafts. You could make decorative centrepieces for the dinner table or fun turkey hats for the kids. Crafting together offers a creative outlet and a chance to make personalized decorations.
23. Play Thanksgiving morning bingo
Organize a Thanksgiving-themed bingo game. Design your own bingo cards with symbols like turkeys, pumpkins, and leaves. It’s a delightful way to start the day, offering fun and laughter for everyone, and a chance to win small prizes.
24. Bake sweet potatoes
Have a family baking session focused on sweet potatoes. Whether you make a traditional sweet potato casserole or try new recipes, it’s a delicious way to involve everyone in the kitchen. Share the tasks and enjoy the aromas filling your home.
25. Enjoy Macy’s parade
Cozy up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade together. Make it more interactive by playing a game of spotting certain characters or floats. This shared experience is a relaxed way to enjoy the parade’s festive magic.
26. Explore photo albums
Bring out old photo albums and take a trip down memory lane. It’s not just about seeing the photos, but also about the stories behind them. It’s a great opportunity for family members to share their experiences and for younger members to learn about their heritage.
27. Plan Black Friday shopping
Gather around and strategize your Black Friday shopping. Discuss who wants what and plan your shopping route. This planning session can be filled with excitement and anticipation, as everyone shares what they hope to find on sale the next day.
Things to do on Thanksgiving with kids
Thanksgiving with kids can be filled with laughter and joy. It’s a great opportunity to engage them in festive activities and teach them about the holiday’s significance. Here are some kid-friendly Thanksgiving activities that are sure to keep the little ones entertained and involved.
28. Color Thanksgiving pages
Provide a variety of Thanksgiving colouring pages for the kids. It’s a delightful way for them to engage with the holiday, using their imagination and creativity to bring scenes to life. Discuss the Thanksgiving story as they colour, making it an educational and fun activity.
29. Bake dinner rolls
Have the kids join you in baking dinner rolls for the Thanksgiving feast. This hands-on activity is not only fun but also teaches them basic cooking skills. Let them shape the dough and watch their excitement grow as they see their creations puff up in the oven.
30. Watch the parade together
Make watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a family event. Get cosy with blankets and hot chocolate, and enjoy the colourful floats and performances together. It’s an excellent opportunity for the kids to see the parade’s spectacle and learn about this Thanksgiving tradition.
31. Play Thanksgiving games
Create an array of Thanksgiving games for the kids. From a turkey-themed treasure hunt to Thanksgiving bingo, these games are perfect for family entertainment. It’s a great way to keep the kids engaged and add a dash of joy to the festivities.
32. Make Thanksgiving crafts
Set aside time for Thanksgiving crafts. This could include making paper turkeys, pilgrim hats, or thankful trees. Crafting allows kids to express their creativity while learning about the significance of the holiday. Display their crafts as part of your holiday decorations.
33. Laugh at turkey jokes
Have a session where everyone shares turkey jokes. This simple, fun activity is sure to bring giggles and laughter. It’s an easy and enjoyable way to lighten the mood and keep the kids entertained.
34. Enjoy potato sack races
Organize potato sack races in your garden or a nearby park. This energetic and fun activity is a hit among kids and encourages healthy, playful competition. It’s a wonderful way to get some fresh air and exercise on Thanksgiving Day.
35. Assemble Thanksgiving puzzles
Bring out Thanksgiving-themed puzzles for a quieter family activity. Puzzles are excellent for concentration and problem-solving skills. It’s a calming way to spend time together, perfect for winding down after a busy day.
36. Donate food together
Involve the kids in gathering food donations for a local shelter or food bank. Explain the importance of helping others and sharing our blessings. This meaningful activity teaches compassion and gratitude, reinforcing the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
Things to do on Thanksgiving for singles
Thanksgiving as a single person can be a unique and fulfilling experience. It’s a day to focus on self-care, explore personal interests, or give back to the community. Here are various ways singles can enjoy and celebrate Thanksgiving, making the most of this special holiday.
37. Host a Friendsgiving feast
Take the initiative and host a Friendsgiving feast. It’s a wonderful way to gather your friends, especially those who might also be spending Thanksgiving alone. Cook together, share stories, and enjoy a spread of your favourite dishes. This gathering can become a cherished new Thanksgiving tradition, filled with laughter and good company.
38. Shop Black Friday sales
Embrace the excitement of Black Friday shopping. Plan ahead, scout for the best deals online, and hit the stores. It’s not just about the purchases, but also the thrill of the hunt. This can be an exhilarating way to kick off the festive shopping season and maybe even snag some early holiday gifts for friends and family.
39. Navigate corn mazes
Venture out to a local farm and challenge yourself with a corn maze. This outdoor activity is not only fun but also a great way to enjoy the crisp fall air. Celebrate your successful navigation with a warm pumpkin spice latte or a piece of freshly baked apple pie from the farm.
40. Create fall bouquets
Indulge in the simple pleasure of creating your own fall bouquets. Gather autumnal elements like colourful leaves, branches, and seasonal flowers. This creative endeavour is not only therapeutic but also beautifies your living space, bringing the essence of fall indoors.
41. Bake apple pie
Spend your day baking a delicious apple pie. It’s a comforting and rewarding way to immerse yourself in the Thanksgiving spirit. The aroma of baking pie is quintessentially festive, and you’ll have a delightful dessert to savour. Share it with neighbours, or enjoy it while watching a favourite movie.
42. Race in turkey trot
Participate in a turkey trot race in your community. This fun and active event is a fantastic way to start Thanksgiving with a sense of accomplishment. Whether you aim to set a new personal record or just enjoy the race, it’s a positive and energetic way to celebrate the day.
43. Volunteer food pantries
Give your time and help out at local food pantries or shelters. Volunteering is a meaningful way to give back and connect with your community. This act of service is profoundly rewarding and reflects the spirit of Thanksgiving – sharing and caring for others.
44. Reflect gratitude game
Engage in a personal gratitude game. Write down things you’re thankful for, reflecting on the positives in your life. This can be a deeply fulfilling exercise, helping to cultivate a sense of contentment and appreciation for what you have, and can be a source of personal growth and happiness.
45. Peruse family albums
Spend a quiet evening going through your family albums. This trip down memory lane can be a soothing and joyful experience, reminding you of cherished moments and the love of family. It’s a comforting way to feel connected to your loved ones, especially if you’re spending the holiday alone.
What are the top 10 Thanksgiving foods?
Thanksgiving is synonymous with a bountiful feast, featuring traditional dishes that have been enjoyed for generations. These foods not only satisfy the taste buds but also hold sentimental value. Here’s a list of the top 10 Thanksgiving foods that are essential for a classic holiday meal.
1. Golden Turkey Feast
The star of Thanksgiving, the turkey, when roasted to golden perfection, is not just a dish but a symbol of the holiday’s tradition. Its rich, savoury flavours and tender meat make it the centrepiece of the feast, often marinated or brined for extra juiciness.
2. Hearty Stuffing
Stuffing, a delightful mix of bread cubes, onions, celery, and herbs, is essential. Often enhanced with sausage or nuts, this dish offers a comforting blend of soft and crunchy textures, absorbing the flavours of the turkey and spices.
3. Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Smooth, buttery mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. They provide a perfect base for gravy and are a crowd-pleaser with their rich, creamy texture and subtle garlic or herb flavours, making them a versatile side.
4. Cranberry Sauce Zest
Cranberry sauce adds a burst of tangy sweetness to the Thanksgiving plate. Whether jellied or whole-berry, its zesty and slightly tart profile complements the rich meats, balancing the overall flavors of the meal.
5. Green Bean Casserole
A harmonious mix of green beans, creamy mushroom soup, and crispy fried onions, this casserole is a textural delight. It offers a comforting, savoury flavour, a welcome contrast to the other rich dishes.
6. Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, with their natural sweetness enhanced by a caramelized glaze of brown sugar and butter, are a Thanksgiving favourite. The dish is a delightful mix of soft, sweet, and slightly crunchy, offering a warm, comforting taste.
7. Classic Pumpkin Pie
The quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie is a harmonious blend of creamy pumpkin custard seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a flaky crust. Served with whipped cream or ice cream, it’s the perfect end to the feast.
8. Buttery Dinner Rolls
Soft, fluffy dinner rolls are essential for sopping up gravy and sauces. Their warm, buttery goodness is a comfort on the Thanksgiving table, perfect for sandwiching leftover turkey or simply enjoyed with a pat of butter.
9. Rich Turkey Gravy
Gravy made from turkey drippings is a luscious addition that enhances every dish on the plate. Rich, savoury, and sometimes infused with herbs, it brings a depth of flavour, tying all the components of your Thanksgiving dinner together beautifully.
10. Sweet Cornbread
Cornbread, with its slightly sweet, crumbly texture, is a delightful alternative to traditional bread. Perfect for absorbing gravy or enjoyed on its own, it adds a unique, slightly rustic flavour to the Thanksgiving spread, often baked with corn kernels or jalapeños for an extra kick.
5 Ideas for Thanksgiving Family Photo Albums
Thanksgiving is a time of family gatherings, making it the perfect occasion to capture moments for a family photo album. From candid shots to formal portraits, these photos become treasures over time. Here are some ideas to create a Thanksgiving family photo album filled with love and memories.
1. Thanksgiving Day Family Portrait
Create a lasting memory with a formal family portrait each Thanksgiving. Dress in coordinated outfits or themed attire, gather in a special spot and capture the moment. Over the years, these portraits will become a treasured timeline, showing how your family has evolved and grown, a visual testament to your Thanksgiving traditions.
2. Candid Turkey Day Fun
Fill your album with candid photos capturing the essence of the day. Snapshots of the kitchen chaos, laughter at the dinner table, playful moments during Thanksgiving activities, and the warmth of family gatherings. These spontaneous images often reveal the true joy and spirit of the day, offering a more personal and intimate glimpse into your celebrations.
3. Generations Gathered Album Pages
Dedicate a section of your album to photographs of family members from different generations. Arrange photos of grandparents with grandchildren, siblings, cousins, and even furry family members. These pages will not only highlight the family tree but also the cherished moments shared between the young and old, preserving memories for future generations.
4. Thanksgiving Festivities Snapshot
Document the full range of Thanksgiving festivities, from the morning’s preparations to the evening’s relaxation. Include photos of the turkey trot race, the hustle in the kitchen, the family playing Thanksgiving bingo, and guests enjoying the feast. Don’t forget to capture the smaller details like the fall bouquets, holiday decorations, and the array of Thanksgiving dishes. These snapshots provide a comprehensive look at the day’s events, capturing the essence of your family’s Thanksgiving tradition.
5. Holiday Season Family Collage
Extend the scope of your album by creating a collage that encompasses the entire holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and leading into the Christmas period. Incorporate images of decorating the house, baking holiday treats, wrapping gifts, and enjoying hot chocolate on cold evenings. This collage is a vibrant tapestry of your family’s festive activities, showcasing the joy, preparations, and celebrations that span from Thanksgiving through to the New Year.
Dressing up for Thanksgiving adds to the festivity of the holiday. Whether you prefer traditional autumnal themes or want to try something new, your outfit can reflect the spirit of Thanksgiving. Here are five unique dress ideas to inspire your Thanksgiving wardrobe and add a touch of style to the celebration.
1. Festive Turkey-themed Apparel
Stand out this Thanksgiving with turkey-themed apparel. Opt for a fun turkey-printed sweater or a shirt with festive motifs. It’s a playful and spirited way to dress for the occasion, perfect for family photos and bringing smiles to everyone at your family gathering.
2. Harvest Season Attire
Embrace the essence of the harvest season. Choose earthy tones and fabrics like tweed or corduroy that reflect the autumnal palette. Add a scarf or a hat in rich, warm colours to complete the look, ideal for a Thanksgiving weekend outing or a family photo.
3. Pumpkin Spice Outfit Flair
Infuse your outfit with the warmth of pumpkin spice colours. Think burnt oranges, deep yellows, and warm browns. Whether it’s a cosy sweater or a stylish scarf, these colours are perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying fun Thanksgiving activities.
4. Autumn Wreath Accessories
Accessorize with elements inspired by autumn wreaths. Think leaf-shaped earrings, a floral headband, or a pinecone brooch. These nature-inspired accessories add a unique touch to your outfit, making you stand out in family photos and at Thanksgiving gatherings.
5. Corn Maze Exploration Gear
If you’re planning outdoor activities like a corn maze, dress practically yet stylishly. Wear comfortable boots, a durable jacket, and layers that you can add or remove as needed. This functional attire ensures you’re ready for fun things like a potato sack race or an impromptu game of football.
How do you entertain adults on Thanksgiving?
For adult guests, consider hosting a wine or craft beer tasting, organizing a sophisticated trivia game, or setting up a DIY cocktail station. These activities cater to adult interests and provide a relaxed, social atmosphere.
How can I have fun on Thanksgiving Day?
Make Thanksgiving Day fun by organizing a family outdoor game, setting up a photo booth with Thanksgiving-themed props, or arranging a pie-baking contest. These activities encourage participation and create joyful memories.
Where to go on Thanksgiving in NYC?
In NYC for Thanksgiving, you can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, explore the festive displays at Bryant Park’s Winter Village, or take a leisurely walk in Central Park to see the fall foliage.
What are good activities for Thanksgiving?
Traditional Thanksgiving activities include playing touch football, going on a family hike, participating in a Thanksgiving craft like making hand turkeys or gratitude trees, or watching football games together.
How can I make Thanksgiving really special?
Personalize your Thanksgiving by writing heartfelt notes to each guest, creating a slideshow of family memories, or starting a new tradition like a post-dinner talent show or a family board game tournament.
What are the top 10 Thanksgiving foods?
The must-have dishes include roasted turkey, savoury stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, candied yams, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, dinner rolls, and a fresh vegetable salad.
How to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade
To watch the parade, tune in to NBC on Thanksgiving morning. For an online experience, stream it through NBC’s website, app, or on platforms like Hulu Live TV or Sling TV.
How to watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving can be streamed on Apple TV+. Sometimes, special airings are available on PBS during the Thanksgiving season, so check local listings.
How to make dressing for Thanksgiving
For a classic dressing, mix dried bread cubes, sautéed onions, and celery with herbs like sage and thyme. Moisten with chicken stock, and bake until it’s golden. For added flavour, include sausage or chopped apples.
How to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving
Thoroughly thaw the turkey, season it inside and out with herbs and butter, and roast it in a preheated oven. Basting occasionally, cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh.
How to care for a Thanksgiving cactus
Place the cactus in bright, indirect light, and water it when the topsoil feels dry. During blooming, keep it in a cooler spot and ensure the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged.
How to be in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade
Apply on the Macy’s parade website, usually as part of a group like a marching band, dance troupe, or as a volunteer. Individual participation is generally through selected organizations or sponsorships.
How to stream the Thanksgiving parade
Stream the parade live through various platforms like NBC’s official website or app, or through streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, or FuboTV, which offer NBC as part of their package.
How to be in the Thanksgiving Day parade
Joining the parade usually involves being part of a performing group or a float sponsor. Alternatively, you can apply to be a volunteer, often as a balloon handler, through the parade’s official channels.
How to order Thanksgiving dinner
Many restaurants and grocery stores offer pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinners. You can place an order in advance and pick it up, or some services offer delivery options. Check local restaurants, caterers, or national chains for options.