9 Thanksgiving Table Activities to Break the Ice & Have Fun

The table is the center of it all on Thanksgiving, so have fun sitting around it before, during, and after the holiday dinner.

Published November 2, 2023
Happy extended family talking during Thanksgiving meal

Eating Thanksgiving dinner is a huge part of any turkey day celebration, but it's not the whole thing. You've got lots of time before and after the feast to have fun and get to know the people sharing your meal. These Thanksgiving table activities can help you avoid those awkward silences and actually have an incredible time at the table this holiday — before, during, and after the turkey takes center stage.

Thanksgiving Table Activities for Before Dinner

Call everyone to the table before it's really time to eat so you can have some fun together. This is a great way to break the ice. Plus, if your family is like ours, it's like herding cats to get them there at the actual dinner time, so early is way better.

Hold a Turkey Day Placemat Design Challenge

Pick up some blank paper placemats at the craft store and pull out your stash of craft supplies. It's time for a placemat design challenge. People can create placemats for each other or for themselves; it's up to you. We like including some 3D craft supplies like googly eyes, feathers, and pipe cleaners. Skip the glitter, though (glitter does not go with food).

When everyone is done creating the placemats, take some time to admire each one and its unique design.

Thanksgiving placemat

Answer a Thanksgiving Icebreaker Question or Two

If you've got new people at the table this year, make them feel welcome and put everyone at ease with a simple holiday icebreaker. We like the idea of asking a few great questions to get to know one another, going around the table. You can come up with your own list or start with these.

  • What is the weirdest thing you've ever eaten at a holiday meal?
  • Who made the best pie you've ever had?
  • What makes Thanksgiving a good holiday, and what would you change about it?
  • If you could make the traditional Thanksgiving meal something besides turkey, what would you pick?
  • How do you feel about pumpkin spice as a flavor?

Have a Thanksgiving Trivia Contest

If you're sitting around the table having drinks and appetizers, why not add a little extra spice to the mix with a good game of Thanksgiving trivia? From turkey facts to the history of the holiday, there's a lot you may or may not know. Show off your skills and have a friendly competition.

Thanksgiving Dinner Table Activities for the Main Event

Eating is a big deal at Thanksgiving, but it's nice to multitask a little. You don't have to do the standard "what I'm grateful for this year" thing. Instead, try one of these conversation starters, toasts, and fun games to play at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Talk About a Year in Your Life

You know how you can think of a year and remember something interesting (or funny) that happened to you that year? Before everyone sits down to dinner, write a bunch of years on slips of paper. These should be years that the people attending have been alive (don't put 1965 if you've got people from a mix of generations).

At dinner, draw a year at random and go around the table saying things that happened that year. Bonus points if you've got a funny or embarrassing story or a super interesting anecdote.

Work on the Family Tree

If you're eating Thanksgiving dinner with family, this is a perfect chance to work on your family tree together. We love going back as far as we can on one branch and asking if anyone has any more info to add.

Quick Tip

It's also fun to share family stories at a holiday meal. Even if people already know these stories, hearing them again helps everyone remember. That's how stories get passed on through the generations.

Take Turns Making Toasts

Many families have a toast at the beginning of the Thanksgiving meal, but there's no reason you need to stop at one. Ask anyone who feels like it to stand and make a toast during dinner.

Dining Wine Cheers Party thanksgiving

We like the idea of setting a theme for the toasting, since it can be hard to come up with original toasts in the moment. Some great ideas for Thanksgiving toast themes include the year ahead, something you wish for someone at the table, and what you wish for the world. There's no wrong way to do this, though.

Remember Someone Who Isn't There

If you have a friend or family member who can't be with you this holiday or who has passed away, Thanksgiving dinner can be a great time to honor that person. Even though you're missing this person, remembering them doesn't have to be sad or serious. Lean into the positive in this holiday that's about gratitude.

After-Dinner Turkey Day Table Activities

Just because dinner is over doesn't mean the fun has to be. Linger around the table talking, laughing, and playing games.

Have Pie Taste Test

If dinner is over, it's time for dessert. And on Thanksgiving, dessert tends to mean pie. This year, pick a single flavor of pie and have lots of people buy or make pies in that type. Then do a blind taste test to pick a favorite.

Assorted fall pies
  1. To do this, number the pies.
  2. Then number paper plates for each pie. You'll need one plate for each person at Thanksgiving.
  3. Serve up slices of the pie on the plates that have the same number.
  4. Have everyone try the pies and rank them by number from best to worst.

Thanksgiving Table Guess Who

After dinner, grab your drinks and play a fun Thanksgiving dinner table game based on a classic. You'll need a bunch of sticky notes and some pens. Before you get together, write some Thanksgiving-related objects and people on the notes. When you're ready to play, you'll each stick one of these notes to your head and ask each other questions until you find out who or what you are.

These are a few of the things you might want to put on the notes:

  • Turkey
  • Abraham Lincoln (the president who made Thanksgiving a holiday)
  • Mayflower
  • Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Football
  • Mashed potatoes

Make the Most of Your Time at the Table

The dinner table is the center of all the Thanksgiving festivities, so it's fun to make the most of the time you're spending there with friends and family. We love incorporating some Thanksgiving table activities in our holiday celebrations to make things even more interesting this year.

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9 Thanksgiving Table Activities to Break the Ice & Have Fun