Do your daydreams of Kennedy-esque family football games on the lawn (er...in the yard. Scratch that...um the kitchen) rarely come to fruition? Don’t feel bad, instead consider roping the fam into trying one of the following:


1. Pin the feather on the turkey

Introduce the youngsters in the crowd to this old school favorite that is also an activity that the most senior members of the crowd can participate in.  It’s low on prep  (Amazon has several options, but you could also make creating the gameboard a bonding activity) and big on fun. Depending on when in the day your crowd breaks out this game, it could get pretty funny. We suggest having great-grandmother hold off her on toddy until after she dons the blindfold and plants her feather. 

2. Put the kids to work

Have the oldest kid(s) help the younger ones compose the blessing. It could be an analog version — a poem or skit, or new age — a quick video made on the iPad and projected for everyone’s enjoyment. 

3. For the birds

Break out the pinecones (bonus if you go on a nature walk and collect them as part of the activity) and the peanut butter. Slather it on and then roll the pinecones in birdseed. Don’t forget to attach a length of yarn before you get started. Why? Well, we can’t just feed ourselves!

4. Scavenger hunt

Guests of all ages can get in on this, and it can be done inside or outside, depending on the weather. Preprint the lists with a variety of types of objects (but if the event is not at your house, be sure to check with the host and ask which areas of their house are off limits. You don’t want the distant cousins rummaging through the bathroom cabinets.) 

5. Parade bingo

Print cards online and mark them as you watch the singers, dancers, floats and celebrities prance through Harold Square. 

6. Beyond hand turkeys 

Find a free corner, cover a table with a disposable cloth, and make sure nobody eats paste (they’ll need to save room for turkey!) The internet is a cornucopia of craft ideas, and most of them manage to be simple without being boring. Moms will appreciate cute things like “thankful feathers” from their kiddos, as distance learning puts the kibosh on most of the adorable crafts that usually come home from school. 

7. Collective family tree

Who needs Ancestry.com when you’ve got generations together? Print out a family tree and see how far back the group can take it. It will be such fun to see who is named for who and shares birthdays, etc. 

8. Home movie premiere 

Remember in “Christmas Vacation” when Clark Griswold gets locked in the attic and sets up the projector to watch his old 8mm home movies? It’ll be just like that, but you won’t be cold, alone, or (hopefully) having cousin Eddie pull up in his Winnebago. 

9. Bridge the gap with Facetime 

This year, especially, you’ll want to pass around the phones and tablets to bring in those who couldn’t make it to the table. While you won’t be able to feel their hugs, you will be able to hear their voice and, perhaps key for 2020, be able to hit end if talk turns to politics.  

10. Don’t count calories, count cards 

Break out the cards, be it Uno or a standard deck..doesn’t matter if it’s 21, War, or Go Fish...put down the screens and read the room instead. There are simply few things more fun than a card game with family. Don’t forget to rig up a few card holders for tiny hands. 

11. Give in to the game

When all else fails, quit fighting it and watch the football games. Put the kids in your jammies, then your lap, put on a pot of coffee, don’t say no to another piece of pie. Simply savor it all, and dare we say it…count your blessings.