9 Creative Games to Keep the Kids Out of the Kitchen on Thanksgiving

kid with turkey hat for thanksgiving
iStock.com/madisonwi

Thanksgiving is a time for family, but all that gathering-together goodness can't happen until after the meal is prepared. You've got your hands full in the kitchen, but unless your little ones are old enough (and inclined) to peel potatoes, it's also nice to have something for them to do besides zone out in front of the television until it's time to feast. And no, asking, "When's dinner going to be ready?" every five minutes does not count as an activity. Enter these awesome games. Requiring minimum prep and no supervision, these games will keep the kids occupied until turkey time. Be warned -- you're totally going to want to take a break from stirring and join them! 

  • 1. This gratitude game teaches kids the meaning behind Thanksgiving.

    Colored straws or some pipe cleaners are all you need for this easy game that helps kids acknowledge the true reason for the holiday (besides sweet potatoes with marshmallows). 

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  • 2. The plastic wrap ball game will be an instant family classic.

    It's not much to look at, but this game is actually a ton of fun. Head to the dollar store and buy a bunch of small trinkets like toys, candy, travel-sized bath items, etc. Don't forget a box of plastic wrap! Then start to wrap a ball, putting a "grand prize" in the center, like a $5 bill. Wrap each individual prize in a separate layer so the ball growers bigger and bigger. 

    When it's time to play, you've got options. Have all your players stand in a circle. To make the game more challenging (for tweens or teens), the person unwrapping must wear oven mitts! One player starts slowly unwrapping the ball while the person to the right either keeps time (each person gets one try between 10-30 seconds) or has to roll a 6 on a die before it's her turn to unwrap the ball. Whatever treasures you uncover during your turn are yours to keep!

  • 3. This "stuff the turkey" game will help them work up an appetite.

    If you're lucky enough to live in an area where the kids can be outside on Thanksgiving without getting frostbite, try this adorable DIY holiday-themed ball-toss game. If you've got older kids who are crafty coming for dinner, they can even make the "turkey" and "stuffing" themselves. 

  • 4. An in-home Escape Room game kit is so on-trend.

    Escape rooms are all the rage right now. They're basically rooms full of riddles and puzzles that participants have to solve in order to "escape" the room before they run out of time. You can blow your teen nephews' and nieces' minds with a downloadable Escape Room Kit they can play right in your home using dollar-store items or things you already have around the house. Look who's the cool aunt now.

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  • 5. Teach them an old throwback.

    uno game
    Uno

    You forgot about Uno, didn't you? Sure, most kids' games now come with some sort of computer code or need batteries to operate. But Uno is a classic for a reason. The rules are super easy to learn, up to 10 kids can play at a time (it's great for big family gatherings), and they have to yell "Uno" in order to win, so you can keep an ear out for them even if they're in the next room. Plus, you know you probably have the deck in the back of a drawer somewhere already. 

  • 6. This swinging-good-time game will get the whole family laughing.

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    With some water bottles, a tube sock, a timer, and a golf ball, the kids might be able to pry the dads and uncles away from the big football games. Set up your line of water bottle "pins" and stick a ball in the sock to create your pendulum, then time each other to see who can knock down the bottles the fastest. Hips don't swing like that? Try gluing the sock to a hat! 

  • 7. The roll a turkey game is great for little guests.

    Perfect for the preschool crowd, this roll a turkey activity is part game, part art craft and completely guaranteed to keep them occupied. 

  • 8. This "guess how many" game will keep all the kids busy.

    It's a timeless game no child can resist. Gather up all the leftover Halloween candy (just kidding, we ate it too -- grab some from the clearance section) and put it in a jar or box for the kids to ponder. Tell them the kid who can come closest to guessing the exact number of pieces inside without going over gets to take it all home, then watch as they do more math in one afternoon than they've done in the entire school year so far. 

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  • 9. Send them on a turkey hunt.

    The kids are going to run all over the house anyway, so you may as well try to control the chaos with this turkey scavenger hunt game. You can snag the free printables from Bloom Designs here

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