The best family games to play pre- and post-Thanksgiving dinner

Courtney Johnston

The best family games to play pre- and post-Thanksgiving dinner.

Gathering together this season is what the holidays are all about. But, with technology ruling our lives, holiday get-togethers can lose some of their luster. One of the best ways to achieve quality family time, both before and after Thanksgiving dinner, is by planning out games that will bring everyone together.

No matter the age differences or physical prowess, there are game ideas that are perfect for every Thanksgiving Day dinner. Use the below list to help plan out a holiday your family will still be talking about next year.

Family Football

You don't need to be an athlete to enjoy this spirited game. Having an all-ages game of football turns the sport into something more comical, sweet, and enjoyable for everyone. You'll want to be sure the teams are a mixed bag, including kids, grandparents, and adults. Create fun family team names and form a cheerleading section for any family members who can't play, but want to join in on the fun. Winners earn year-long bragging rights and the first pick of dessert.

Pumpkin Decorating Contests

Encourage your family to show off their artistic side by hosting a pumpkin-decorating contest before the big meal. This can be as intricate or simple as you want. Decorate using paint, markers, and glitter, or get more detailed and carve your pumpkins into your desired shape or character. Younger kids will love watching (or helping) and kids over 10 should be able to tackle this challenge on their own.

Gift Exchanges

Some families only come together once a year -- usually during Thanksgiving. If this is the case, opt into a gift exchange on Thanksgiving Day, rather than mailing gifts before Christmas. To enhance the fun, turn gift giving into a game by hosting a White Elephant or similar gift giving game. Set a limit so no one spends too much and sit back and enjoy watching everyone unwrap their mystery gifts.

Thanksgiving-Themed Scavenger Hunt

The best way to keep everyone focused on a game is by challenging them. Host a scavenger hunt by splitting the family into teams. Hide objects using colored post-it notes to denote which prize is for which team and watch your family members band together to win this treasure-hunting contest. This game can be as complex or simple as you'd like and you can even host separate kid and adult hunts.

Holiday Pictionary

Put a spin on traditional Pictionary by playing this Thanksgiving-themed version. Simply type up a list of items that are related to Thanksgiving (turkey, pilgrim, cornucopia, sweet potato -- they can be as easy or abstract as you'd like) and use these typed up cards instead of traditional Pictionary cards.

Thankful Games

Some families go around the table and say what they are thankful for being eating. You can turn this act of giving gratitude into a game. Have everyone write down something silly that they're thankful for on a piece of paper. Place all scraps of paper into a jar and mix them up. Pass the jar around before dinner and have each person select one. The first person starts by saying one thing they are really thankful for and reads the paper in front of them ("I am thankful for everyone in my family and Fortnite"). Then, that person tries to guess who wrote the silly item down. Go around the table until all answers have been read and guessed.

Board Games

You can't beat traditional board games for a day full of family fun. If your family is large, plan on running several games at the same time. Enjoy classic games like Sorry!, Uno, or Jenga. You can also try out popular games like Apples to Apples or Speak Out. Plan on a few kid friendly games, too, like Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land. Turning each game into a friendly competition will keep everyone engaged and distract them from cellphones, video games, and maybe even the big game.

Games for Adults

Once the kids start passing out or watching movies, there are plenty of ways to entertain the adults who are still standing. Fun games like Would You Rather or Never Have I Ever can be turned into drinking games and lead to lots of laughs and fun reveals. Board games for adults can also add to the fun. Try out games like Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, or Joking Hazard for a hilarious activity everyone will enjoy.


Courtney Johnston is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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