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Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and so I enjoy collecting meaningful Thanksgiving ideas.  I enjoy Thanksgiving because it is spent with family and friends. Of course, enjoying delicious food from simple recipes is enjoyable, too. I like to create DIY crafts to decorate my home and to give as favors and gifts. For me, everything about Thanksgiving should reflect warmth, love and tradition for my family.

blocks spelling "thankful" with small pumpkins and gourds on wood table

Thanks to the military, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in the USA and in three overseas countries. I’ve enjoyed introducing others to my family’s Thanksgiving traditions. Many people are intimated by the idea of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trappings. But if you remember that Thanksgiving is really more about relationships with family and friends, you’ll be able to create Thanksgiving ideas that work for you and your family. 

Thanksgiving Ideas

Preparation and Organizing Ideas

You don’t have to be stuck in the kitchen all day cooking and preparing the big Thanksgiving meal. Spending time with your family and friends on Thanksgiving really is possible with just a little preparation and these simple Thanksgiving ideas and tips.

Free Printable Thanksgiving Menu Planner – Using a menu planner for your Thanksgiving menu planning means that you’re not frantically running around in the kitchen while everyone is enjoying chatting and catching up with each other. You can plan ahead for the dishes that you want to serve and their preparation times. The menu planner also allows you to plan for others to bring potluck Thanksgiving dishes to contribute. 

Tips to Transport Holiday Food – Whether you’ll be taking food to a Thanksgiving meal or have people bring dishes to Thanksgiving dinner at your home, you’ll want to check out these tips for safely transporting your favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

two food carriers on table.

Organize a Holiday Meal Planner – This is an oldie-but-goodie free printable meal planner and tips that I have used for years in my home. It allows you to plan for the ingredients required for each Thanksgiving recipe and identify whether you already have those ingredients or need to purchase them. 

holiday meal planner sheet on table next to grey box.

Tips to Prepare for Holiday Guests – In the busyness of preparing the menu and food for Thanksgiving, don’t overlook preparing your home for your guests. These are quick and easy tips that will make your guests feel welcome. 

air filter in package, stack of white towels and disinfecting wipes container.
collage of colorful Thanksgiving themed pages.
Get the 74-page Thanksgiving Planner Bundle with everything you need to plan, organize and decorate for the holiday!

Thanksgiving Decorations and Crafts

Making DIY decorations and crafts for Thanksgiving make the holiday that much more charming. Most of these ideas are easy enough that you can involve children before or during Thanksgiving in making them. And these decorating ideas are impressive enough that you’ll be proud to show them off. 

crafted clay pot pumpkin with 2 crafted pilgrim hats in front.

Thanksgiving Craft with Clay Pots – An easy and fun Thanksgiving craft that is easy enough for kids and adorable enough to use as decorations and party favors.

3 gold candies decorated to look like acorns on wood table.

Easy Candy Acorns – This simple craft uses up paper scraps that you probably already have and can also be used as table decoration.

2 orange shutters with Thanksgiving sign in front of front door with dog laying down.

Repurposed Wood Shutters Sign for Thanksgiving – Make this delightful welcome sign that can be used inside or out to greet your guests. This is a two-for-one holiday decoration that packs a big punch for just a few dollars since it starts by upcycling wood shutters you can find for free or inexpensively at a local thrift store. 

close up of DIY candy acorns.

DIY Fall Treats Anyone Can Make-Make these sophisticated table decorations that are also party favors or Thanksgiving treats.

DIY turkey napkin ring holder with pumpkins in background.

DIY Thanksgiving Napkin Rings – You can have your children help you make these lovely napkin rings for your Thanksgiving table. Everyone will ooh and ahh over these festive table decorations that will only cost you pennies and minutes to make.

Thanksgiving sign next to pumpkin on wood table.

Thanksgiving Blocks from Repurposed Game Blocks – You can make this cheery Thanksgiving decoration for just pennies. You could use this same tutorial to make table place cards. 

DIY papercraft turkey napkin ring on tan napkin on wood table.

Turkey Craft Napkin Rings – Use up your decorative paper scraps and create adorable napkin rings for your Thanksgiving table. It’s also a great kids’ craft to involve children on Thanksgiving day or before.

3 quote signs in autumn colors.

Thanksgiving Printables – Literary Quotes – Use these free printable signs with Thanksgiving-themed literary quotes to decorate your table or frame and hang on the wall. You could also hand them out to your guests as a party favor. 

Thanksgiving Activities and Games

Many of the craft tutorial above can be made on Thanksgiving as an activity to keep children and other guests occupied while waiting for dinner time. 

man holding hand out to a homeless person.

Thanksgiving Care Kits – This charitable giving idea is a fun activity that my family has done for years on Thanksgiving day. It’s a wonderful way to help others in your community and teach your children the importance of helping others. 

multiple black and white coloring sheets for Thanksgiving with text overlay.

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages – 15 free Thanksgiving coloring pages you can print right away for kids of all ages to enjoy. Contains both simple and intricate designs.

top image - Thanksgiving sign and pumpkins, bottom image - autumn colored multiple charades game cards.

Free Thanksgiving Charades – 36 free Thanksgiving charades game cards you can print right away. An easy-to-play activity will be one of your favorite Thanksgiving games.

close up of pages of Fall scavenger hunt

Fall Scavenger Hunt – If you need a bit of quiet or the kids need to burn off some excess energy, use this free printable scavenger hunt to send the kids outside to play with a guided game

close up of 3 Thanksgiving themed game sheets.

Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt – Keep kids (and young-at-heart adults) happily occupied with the ever-popular scavenger hunt game. This free 4-page printable will keep the “I’m bored” comments at bay.

3 autumn colored word search pages.

Thanksgiving Word Search – Make learning so fun that kids think it’s a game with this free 3 page printable.

8 Thanksgiving Trivia question card sheets.

Thanksgiving Trivia Questions – Make Thanksgiving fun and learn at the same time with these 36 free printable Thanksgiving trivia questions quiz cards.

Thanksgiving Recipes

side view of cookies on wood table decorated to look like ears of Indian corn.

Fall Dessert Cookie – You could use these cookies as an activity to keep the kids busy decorating them. Simply make the cookies and have the decorating supplies on-hand. Everyone will want to help decorate (and eat) these fun harvest-themed cookies.

tray of candy acorn topped brownie cups.

Thanksgiving Brownie Cups – These Thanksgiving treats are always a hit and are easy to make (but don’t look easy-to-make!).

overhead view of mini pies with whipped cream and small chocolate candies on white table.

Mini Finger Pies with Butterfingers Candy – Individual mini pies are always a popular dessert and these light orange-colored pies are a perfect Thanksgiving dessert alternative for those who don’t like pumpkin pie.

3 cookies that look like pilgrim hats on white table.

Thanksgiving Pilgrim Hat Cookies – You can have your guests decorate these charming cookies as an activity or make them ahead of time and watch the excitement when you bring them out for dessert.

close up of no bake cheesecake mini cups on black counter.

Easy White Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe – These mini pies are not only delicious, they are adorable dessert treats.

rustic apple pie bites on white platehand.

Quick and Easy Apple Pie Bites – Make these apple pie bites as a pre-dinner snack or as finger-food dessert option.

slice of Cannoli Pie with raspberries on white plate with fork.

Cannoli Pie – Cannolis are a mouth-watering Italian pastry that are addictive. This pie harnesses that same creamy goodness in an easier-to-make pie. 

Pin for later so you can easily find these Thanksgiving ideas year after year to be prepared every time.

blue plate with fall leaf and brown napkin and nametag.

Find all our Thanksgiving crafts, games, activities, and recipes in the table below. You can scroll through the table, click on a tutorial that interests you and then go directly to that article. You can also use the magnifying glass in the upper right corner to search for specific topics.