If you will have several children at your Thanksgiving feast, plan some simple games to keep them occupied before and after dinner. These Thanksgiving games can help keep the kids out of the kitchen during cooking and cleanup time.

Chose an adult who isn’t helping prepare the meal or an older child to help organize the games.

Games for kids

• Gobble, Gobble, Turkey: This game needs little explanation. Take the traditional duck, duck, goose game and turn it into gobble, gobble, turkey. If you have a large room or basement (any place far from the kitchen), this will keep the kids occupied for a while and help them burn off some energy.

• The Thankful ABC Game: Have kids sit in a circle and chose someone to go first. The first player says, “I am thankful for” and names something that starts with an A. Going clockwise, the next player says “I am thankful for” and names something that starts with a B. Go through the whole alphabet, even if each child needs to take several turns to get to Z.

Games for the whole family

• Thanksgiving Mad Libs: School-age kids love Mad Libs fill-in-the-blank type stories. You can find Thanksgiving printable Mad Libs type stories on websites like Classroom Jr. Here’s how this type of story works. The story is written with several key words left blank. One person has the story and asks the rest of the players for specific types of words (nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc). When the blanks are all filled in, the person who had the story reads it out loud. It often ends up being very silly, and children will laugh and laugh. This would be a great activity for an adult or a teenager to take charge of.

• Twenty Questions: If young children are participating, come up with a list of people and things associated with Thanksgiving (pilgrims, turkey, Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, football, pumpkin pie, etc). Put the words on separate papers and put the papers in a bag or hat. The first person pulls out a word and says “I’m thinking of a person, place or thing.” All the other players get to ask 20 “yes,” “no,” or “I don’t know” questions to figure out what word is on the paper. The person who guesses correctly gets to pull the word out of the hat next.

For older children and adults, you don’t need pre-made words. Each player can come up with a word, name or term for himself.

Outdoor games

• Pumpkin Rolling Race: This game doesn’t sound so difficult, but because pumpkins aren’t perfectly round, they don’t roll in a straight line. It’s harder than it sounds. You’ll need two large, fairly round pumpkins and two strong, long sticks or broom handles to play. Create a starting line and a finish line. Then, place the pumpkins on their sides at the starting line. When someone yells, “Go” the two pumpkin racers try to roll their pumpkins to the finish line using the stick to push it. The pumpkins will roll every which way because of their lines and unevenness, and fun will ensue.

• Turkey Egg Hunt: If you think about it, hunting for turkey eggs makes a lot more sense than hunting for Easter eggs. Rabbits don’t lay eggs! Grab your plastic Easter eggs out of storage and fill them with little treasures — coins, small wrapped candies, erasers, stickers, etc. Hide them around the yard, and then send the kids out for a turkey egg hunt.

See also:

Thanksgiving games for kids

Thanksgiving crafts

Thanksgiving recipes

History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving songs

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.