15 Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Fun and Active

Whip up some Thanksgiving fun for the whole family with games and activities that go beyond TV football and cornucopia crafts. While you're waiting for your turkey to come out of the oven, or in the lull between the bread stuffing and the pumpkin pie, burn some calories with these kid-friendly physical activities that are easily adaptable for toddlers, teens, and seniors too.


Take a Walk or Hike

Family hiking in woods

Rob and Julia Campbell / Stocksy United 

Stroll the neighborhood or explore a local park or trail—this activity promotes companionship and family bonding as well as fitness. Try walking games to keep antsy kids on track.


Play a Party Game

If you have a group of kids doing laps around the house or yard, channel their energy into an indoor or outdoor party game, like Capture the Flag or Charades.


Run a Turkey Trot

Sign up for a local turkey trot fun run. Most have kids' divisions, so you can make it a family affair. Active.com has a good search engine to help you find a race near you.

Some communities may hold virtual events. The upside: You can run or walk your own course on your own timeframe and document your efforts. It's a great way to make memories.


Sample the Local Flavor

If you've traveled away from home for the holiday weekend, check out favorite local activities while you're in town: Ice skating? Bowling? Golf? If you're at home, take advantage of the time off work and school and fit in some fun fall fitness.


Play Flag Football

This backyard game is a Turkey Day classic. Or, try football team tag: To avoid getting tagged out, call out the name of an NFL team before "it" touches you (college teams would work too).


Adapt Classic Games

Turn "duck duck goose" into "chicken chicken turkey" or try "Tom Turkey Says" instead of "Simon Says."


Find the Turkeys

Hide turkeys—made of paper, or small stuffed toys—in the house or yard and turn kids loose to find them all.


Run a Popcorn Relay Race

What's fun about this Thanksgiving game is seeing the whole family join in—young and old. Fill two large bowls with popcorn and set them on one side of a room or lawn.

Place empty bowls at the opposite end of the play area. Split family members into two teams and have them carry the corn from one bowl to the other using measuring cups. First to empty their bowl wins!


Play Road Trip Games

If your Thanksgiving plans have you hitting the road, plan some pit stops for physical fitness (and sanity-saving). Tuck a Frisbee, playground ball, or jump rope into your trunk so you can play a few quick games when you stop. Or try a few "brain breaks," reimagined as "trapped in the car breaks."


Push a Pumpkin

Give each child a smallish pumpkin and a stick to push it with—then have them race to get the pumpkin across a finish line. It's not as easy as it sounds!


Let Your Stars Shine

Challenge kids (and any adults who are game) to work up a dance performance or skit to share with guests. Award certificates or small prizes to all who participate.


Make Hoop Sticks

This is a traditional Native American game. Prior to Turkey Day, gather wooden dowels or sticks (about a foot long) for each player, along with an 18-inch length of the string, yarn, or twine to go on each stick. Tie the string to one end of the stick. Tie the free end of the string into a loop to create the hoop.

The object of the game is to poke the end of the stick through the hoop, using only one hand. To make the game a little easier for younger kids, wrap the loop with masking tape so it's not as floppy.


Play Cornhole

This fall favorite goes perfectly with Thanksgiving fun since you toss bean bags filled with corn!


Do the Turkey Pokey

Instead of putting your right arm in and out, put your right wing in and out. Instead of shaking it all about, gobble it all about. Continue with your left wing, your drumsticks, your tail feathers, and so on.


Keep the Turkey on Its Toes

Put all your little turkeys in groups of two and give them all a bandanna or scarf to tuck into their back pockets or waistbands. The challenge: Each player must hop on one foot and flap one arm like a wing.

With the other hand, the child tries to steal their opponent's bandana (and protect their own). If the child loses their balance or bandanna, they're out, and their partner can take on a new opponent.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.