14 Creative Thanksgiving Traditions For Kids

Thanksgiving Turkey Bowling Tradition for Kids

Over the years we’ve asked our community about their family Thanksgiving traditions — and got hundreds of responses! We loved them all; these were our favorites. These Thanksgiving traditions for kids are perfect for involving them in the festivities, keeping them engaged…and teaching them the real meaning of thankfulness.

Thankful Slip

Thanksgiving gratitude slips and notes

We make one “Thankful Slip” (alternating red and green construction paper slips) for each person on each night of November. We do it as a family at the dinner table each night, we discuss what it is that we are thankful for and why (even the toddler participates, we’ve been very surprised at the sweet things she has “written” on her slips so far). Then we put our slips into our Thankful turkey (a milk jug turkey my teenager made when she was in preschool). On Thanksgiving day we pull out the slips and turn them into a Christmas chain for our tree. It brings the thankfulness into the next holiday season. —Desirae

Thanksgiving Games

On Thanksgiving Day, we host the Turkey Games. Everyone is split into teams with color sashes like the Cranberries, Green Beans, and Blue Potatoes. Then, we compete in fun games like wind-up toy races, pin the gobbler on the turkey, etc. It’s basically a bunch of games and friendly competition amongst our family and friends of all ages. As the table is being set and Thanksgiving dinner is cooking, it’s a really fun way to spend time together.   Our family loves Turkey Bowling. My kids have a blast creating and playing this DIY Thanksgiving game. Plus, the scoring brings a little math and learning to the fun. Strike!–Marianne

Nature Mandalas

Before dinner we all go on a walk in the woods and collect branches, leaves, pods and other natural materials. Then we bring all the materials back to the house and make Thanksgiving nature mandalas.  We begin by placing all of the materials in piles and then sorting by color and texture. Then we make circles in color gradients. We love how this ritual connects us to the season and to each other–Peter

Art Turkeys

We put out paper supplies and encourage everyone to make a special art turkeys.  Teams are encouraged! Then we parade through the house with our turkeys and vote for the ones we love the most. We been doing this for years and now we have beautiful collection. Each turkey reminds of the people who made them. –Celia

Turkey Talks

A week before the holiday we research a topic we are passionate about–it could be as simple as a type of animal or more complex like a historical subject. Then at dinner we take turns presenting our stories.  We call these “Turkey Talks.” It’s lots of fun and we all learn something new.–Leslie  

Magic Tricks

For one of our Thanksgiving traditions for kids: we taught our kids a few magic tricks, which they perform at the beginning of the meal and again before dessert. They love it, and it gives them an incentive to sit at the table. —Angel

Family Placemat Project

Each family member makes a placemat by coloring their name and a few simple things they enjoy. After 15 min, it’s passed to the left and that family member draws a picture and says what they are most thankful for about you. Every 15 minutes, pass again until you have your own back and you have pictures from the whole family about why you are special to them. We use them at dinner to remember that family is our greatest gift. —Beverly

Paper Bag Costumes

The kids work on a play and make costumes out of paper bags and markers. We have feathers to decorate headdresses. It takes them a while to get ready. Then we have dinner. Then we get to have a show with our dessert. A win for everybody. The kids really enjoy it. Each year the production gets bigger! —Teresa

The Candy Corn Game

Everyone in the family has five candy corns placed at their spot at the Thanksgiving table. At the end of the meal we go around and everyone shares five things they are most thankful for, one for each candy corn. I am a teacher and I have started doing this with my students (preschoolers and kindergarteners) on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break. They take it very seriously. It is sweet to hear them and often, in listening to others, they/we are reminded if more we are thankful for. —Meredith

Tree of Gratitude

Tree of Gratitude Thanksgiving Tradition for Kids

Every Thanksgiving holiday, we have a family tradition where each of us writes down what we are thankful for. Typically, we just jot them down on some post-it notes and read them out loud, but this year, we wanted to create a centerpiece of gratitude. This tree is a simple but elegant way to display what we are are thankful for. Going forward, the tree will be a part of our holiday tradition.

(Try our Tree of Gratitude project!)

Wooden Hearts and Leaves

We travel to Portland and visit family. With seven children under 12 in one house for three days, we keep it really simple and eat lots of leftovers after the big day! We have been writing what we are thankful for on little wooden hearts and leaves (from the craft store) since the beginning ten years ago and now we have quite the bowlful. It’s so adorable to read what the little ones said years ago 🙂 —Katja

A Thanksgiving Toast

We buy bottles of sparkling cider and each kid gets to use grown-up wine glasses because it’s special. They each toast reasons for being thankful and then take sips after each toast. Pinkies out! —Angie

Coloring Table Project

We have a toddler so we get to intro some new Thanksgiving traditions for kids. I’m working on some little felt leaves so that every year we can each add a message to one and then over the years I will have a thankfulness tree to frame. Also, we covered our table with Kraft paper for coloring last year to help keep the kids busy, and let them help cook! Having them involved with the food means they will actually eat it, too! —Joanna

Donating Dog Food

Around Thanksgiving we’ve begun a new tradition of finding a way to give back to our community (in other ways than just donating cash). This year, we decided to give back by donating dog food to our local shelter. We talk about what we’re thankful for and try to help those who are less fortunate (even our four-legged friends!). —Janice

More Thanksgiving Traditions for Kids

More Thanksgiving traditions for kids

We hope you have the opportunity to try some of these traditions and have some fun! For more Thanksgiving traditions for kids, along with crafts, activities, and recipes, visit our Thanksgiving Crafts For Kids list!

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