Thanksgiving dinner can be a quiet, elegant affair with only a few polite friends and genteel family, followed by a nice stroll in the park before dessert.
But that’s only if you live in a greeting card. Here are some unique indoor and outdoor activities to entertain everyone from the littlest kids to teens to some adventurous adults.
In Case of Rain
Your annual flag football game may get called off for rain, but there still are some things the kids can do outside without getting too wet. If it is too wet to go outside, be creative with indoor games.
Place a sheet of thick paper or watercolor stock on a tray. Mark each tray with a name tag. A strip of masking tape and a permanent marker will do the trick. Drip some food coloring on the paper. Set the tray with the paper in it out in the rain for a few minutes. Drain the water from the tray and bring it back in. The kids can use a hair dryer on their papers or the papers can air dry. If you hang the papers on a clothesline, make sure to keep the trays underneath to catch drips.
And we mean jumping! The point of this game is to keep from getting too wet. Jumping over, not in, the puddle is the goal. Some rain gear will be needed, so tell your guests to bring their umbrellas, raincoats and rubber boots. Older kids or aunts and uncles can be the puddle jumping judges. Least amount of splash wins!
Mashed Board Games
Board games are always fun, but the same-old, same-old may not interest tweens or teens. Add a twist by using the money, tokens and cards from one game one another game’s board. Have the older kids mash up the rules and goals (give them a time limit and make sure there’s a peacekeeper adult nearby). Add some physical actions like jumping, push-ups or balancing to the game. A sheet of paper and a pencil may be required to write down the new rules and keep track of players’ progress.
A few crepe paper streamers and some painters tape is all you need to turn your hallway into a spy-worthy “laser” obstacle course. Lightly tape strips of the streamers on the wall at varying heights and at least 18 inches (~46 centimeters) apart, then pull the other ends of the streamers to the opposite wall at varying angles and tape. The goal of the game is to get to the other end of the hallway without disturbing the streamers. Be sure to tape the ends lightly so that a decent tap will release them from the wall.
For a Clear Day
Daytime and nighttime activities outdoors will get everyone moving and tap into those creative skills and physical talents.
On the driveway or patio, use sidewalk chalk to make 4 identical squiggly lines, about 20 feet (~6 meters) in length and at least 18 inches apart. Get together groups of 4 of similar-age kids or adults. The twist to this race is to complete the course only by heel-toe walking with no spaces. That’s a walk where the heel of the right foot is placed down to touch the toe of the left foot. No space is allowed between steps. Racers can go as fast as they want, but any space between steps equals disqualification. Recruit some line judges. At the end of the prelims, have an all-ages race for the championship. You may think the ones with the biggest feet will win, but little feet are nimble! There may be some surprise upsets.
Glow Stick Ring Toss or Tic Tac Toe
The lure of playing with glow sticks will get any kid outside. Have a secret stash of them at the ready for that time of the night where the kids need a fun break. Form the sticks into rings using two sticks and two fasteners. You can use tape or string to tie the centers together to form an X. If you have extras, you can make a Tic Tac Toe board with straight sticks and fasteners. If not, use some glow-in-the-dark paint or sidewalk chalk. Older kids may enjoy a glow stick ring toss game. Teens can bundle sticks and take some time-lapse photos or silly pics to share.
These fun photo props aren’t just for the 4th of July. All ages love sparklers and they look great in time-lapse pics and video. As always use caution and follow the directions on the package. Encourage teens and tweens to work together to make an impromptu slide show to share with the whole family at the end of the night.
The key to any great event is to have group activities for everyone to enjoy, either by participating or spectating. Keep a few of these tricks tucked in your apron pocket and your Thanksgiving dinner will be one to remember for years to come.