Thanksgiving Dinner: Games That You Can Play at The Table

Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering is quite the undertaking. Not only do you need to prepare the food but you have a houseful of friends and family that entertain. With limited space and guests of all ages, how do you get this done? 

A fun and simple game that everyone can play as they are seated around the table can be a delightful experience before or after the meal! Here are some great options that won’t add too much prep work to your hosting duties.

Thanksgiving Celebration Games for The Table

Pass the Pumpkin

Everyone is seated but you need help bringing things to bring to the tab. Instead of pestering everyone for help, how about a game of Hot Pumpkin to decide who will serve as the waiters? 

Hot Pumpkin is essentially Hot Potato. If you are not familiar, everyone at the table passes the pumpkin around while music plays. When the music stops, the person left holding the pumpkin loses and they get to help carry in the stuffing!

Depending on how many people you have, you can put multiple small pumpkins into the fray. This will result in a handful of “volunteers” in just one game. 1 pumpkin in play for every 8-10 people at the table. Of course, if you have multiple tables you will need pumpkins at each one.

Who’s The Turkey

If your family is like most, you may have weird cousins you consider turkeys, but this game is not about identifying them. Instead, the Turkey is the person who screws up the game first.

You can play this game in a number of ways, it is basically an elimination word game. One person starts by saying what they are thankful for. The next person must say what they are thankful for but it has to be something that starts with the last letter of what the previous person was thankful for. 

Give each person only about 5 seconds to provide an answer or they are the Turkey and get eliminated from the game. The last person standing gets to eat first or gets the first piece of the pie. 

Corn Husking

The age-old question of who should get to eat first can be decided with a fun game! Hand everyone an ear of sweetcorn, uncooked, unshucked. Everyone races to finish husking their ear of corn first and earn the privilege of getting to eat first.

Who Am I: Thanksgiving Edition

Anyone who has seen the “Diversity Day” episode of the sitcom The Office, will recognize this game. Hopefully, you will execute it much better than the characters on the show. This game works at family gatherings or even at an office Thanksgiving party. Here is the basics:

Everyone gets a card with a famous person’s name on it. The card needs to be taped on their forehead without them reading the name. The goal is to discover who they are by asking questions to the other players.

In this edition, the names will be Thanksgiving-related. This can be difficult, but you can include famous historical names related to the first Thanksgiving, but also, you can include people who have about any connection to Thanksgiving as long as they are recognizable names. Here are some examples:

  • Abraham Lincoln – Officially declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863
  • Squanto – Assisted the Pilgrims after their first winter in the New World
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt – Moved Thanksgiving up a week during the Great Depression    
  • Miles Standish – A leader for Plymouth Colony  
  • William Bradford – The leader of the Plymouth Colony who helped organize the first Thanksgiving
  • John F. Kennedy – Promoted the modern view of Thanksgiving with an emphasis on national unity and, interestingly, was the first president to pardon a turkey in 1963.      
  • Charles Schulz – Creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, which has iconic Thanksgiving-themed episodes and has been associated with the holiday for decades.
  • Norman Rockwell – Created the iconic “Freedom from Want” painting, often referred to as the “Thanksgiving Picture,” which illustrates a family gathered around the dinner table.  
  • Martha Stewart – Known for her elaborate and beautifully curated Thanksgiving recipes and table settings.

Would You Rather

An entertaining way to pass the time is with a light-hearted game of Would You Rather – Thanksgiving Style

Dinner guests take turns posing Thanksgiving meal dilemmas to one another. For example: “If you could choose only one to eat for the rest of your life: would you rather choose cranberry sauce or only pumpkin pie?”

Two Truths & a Lie: Pilgrim Version

The story of the first Thanksgiving is quite inspirational. The circumstances that the pilgrims faced and ultimately overcame are quite amazing. In the pilgrim version of Two Truths & a Lie, your guests will need to have a good knowledge of these events.

To play, the host presents the group with three statements about the first Thanksgiving. The group must determine which of the statements is not true. Here is an example:

  1. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days.
  2. Turkey was the primary dish served at the first Thanksgiving feast.
  3. The Wampanoag Indians were the Indian tribe invited by the Pilgrims to attend the first Thanksgiving celebration.

The lie is #2. While wildfowl was mentioned in historical records, there is no specific evidence that suggests turkey was the “primary” dish.

Centerpiece Memory Challenge

Beautiful and elaborate centerpieces can add some really festive flare to your traditional Thanksgiving fare. A simple but intriguing game that you can play at the dinner table is called Centerpiece Memory Challenge.

Have everyone get seated. Then after a few minutes, have everyone close their eyes. While they cannot see, remove an item from the centerpiece on the table. Then allow players to try and identify the missing piece.  

Who Burnt The Turkey?

A tasty mystery-style game is perfect for more colorful groups. The game is an interactive role-playing game that works best when people really get into their characters. Here is the gist:

To begin, create a set of role cards. Each card will have a unique job related to Thanksgiving dinner preparation written on it. Examples:

  • Turkey Chef
  • Pie Maker
  • Vegetable Roaster
  • Gravy Stirrer
  • Cranberry Sauce Expert
  • Wine Connoisseur
  • Table Setter (create as many roles as needed for your group size)

One of the cards should be titled “Burnt the Turkey!”. Shuffle the cards and distribute them face down to each participant. Players look at their cards but keep them secret from the others. The goal is to find out who burnt the turkey. To do this, players must ask questions of one another to determine their roles. 

They cannot directly ask “Did you burn the turkey?”. Instead, they need to ask insightful questions to gain clues to the role of each person. For example: 

  • “Were you anywhere near the oven today?”
  • “Did you bring dessert?”
  • “Did you have any cooking mishaps today?”

Players need to answer the questions according to their assigned role without revealing it directly. Here are some example responses:

  • The Pie Maker might hint that they were working on desserts but got distracted.
  • The Table Setter might mention they were busy with plates and silverware.

After a player asks a question they may choose to make an accusation or pass. If they think that person burnt the turkey, they state “I believe (person’s name) burnt the turkey”. The accused player must reveal their card and if it is the “Burnt Turkey” card, the accuser wins. If the accuser is wrong they are out of the game. The accused player can continue to try to find the culprit.

The game ends when someone either correctly identifies the burner of the turkey or when there are only two players left (one who burnt the Turkey and one other). 

Thanksgiving Menu Charades

Charades is a game that everyone knows how to play. You can easily play it at the dinner table as you wait to dine. For a more interesting holiday twist, you will be guessing different traditional (or non-traditional) Thanksgiving dishes. 

Guess the Year

At any holiday gathering with family or friends, a dose of nostalgia is always welcome. In this game, you will take a trip down memory lane as everyone tries to correctly guess what year these events happened in your extended family. 

As the host you will need to do some leg work by identifying some memorable and momentous events in your family’s past and what year these events all occurred. For example: In this year, Aunt Mary graduated from college, Dad sold his Camaro, and little Jimmy won the science fair.

Everyone tries to pinpoint the correct year that this took place. Be sure to include a mix of current years and old so people of all ages have a chance. 

Turkey Feathers

Being together for the holidays is only worth it if you take the time to connect and engage with one another. Often, the age gap between different generations and unfamiliarity with distant relatives means that people do not interact much, especially children. This game can help to bridge that gap.

The goal of Turkey Feathers is for kids to collect as many feathers as possible. Getting feathers means prizes. You will need about 5 turkey “feathers” for each child in attendance. You can use craft paper and cut out feather shapes if you have the time or just buy something like these that would work great. The feathers will be distributed to the adults. Use different colored feathers, red, orange, brown, etc. Each one will correlate to a prize or treat. 

For example: red feathers might mean a soda, orange feather might mean they don’t have to do dishes, a brown feather might be $5, etc. 

To earn feathers children must get an adult to release a feather to them. Adults can award feathers to children for different things such as singing a song, reciting things learned at school, answering questions, etc. This game makes engaging with the adults more fun and not seem like a chore. 

It’s All About Quality Time

The meal obviously the main event of any Thanksgiving day gathering, but filling up on delicious food alone won’t set your event apart. For a truly memorable and enjoyable day, add a little fun by playing some holiday-themed games around the table. Laughing and competing in a friendly manner will do more to bring you and your extended family closer together than small talk and naps after turkey time. 

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