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17 Thanksgiving Activities for Teens (They’ll Actually Want to Do)

These 17 Thanksgiving activities for teens will both keep your teen engaged AND help your family create new memories together.

What do tie-die Turkey cookies, blindfolded Pictionary, and matchbox car Macy’s Day parades have in common?

three teen girls cooking Thanksgiving breakfast for parents, text overlay "Thanksgiving activities for teens"

They’re three Thanksgiving Activities for teens that will keep them smiling, participating, and bonding with the family this year.

Thanksgiving Activities for Teens

Whether you’re looking for Thanksgiving Day activities for teens, or activities teens can do to get ready for turkey day – you’ll find them below.

1. Let them Host a Friendsgiving

Choose a date leading up to Thanksgiving Day or after, where your teenager gets to invite 3-5 of their friends to come over for a Friendsgiving.

You can let them help in planning the menu, shopping for it, prepping, etc. OR, you can just totally do this for them – it’s completely up to you.

Here are free printables, including invitations.

Hint: you can make this a really special event by bringing out the “good” plates and nice tablecloth, to make those teens feel grown-up and special!

2. Set Up a Thanksgiving Bark Station

candy corn and tie dyed chocolate bark pieces

Let your teens create their own Thanksgiving bark to eat after the meal (or the next day…and the next day…and the next day…).

Set out half-sheet pans (we’ve had these for two years now and love them) lined with parchment paper, and little bowls filled with things like:

  • Popcorn
  • Jelly beans
  • Candy corn
  • Sprinkles
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • M&M’s
  • Peanuts
  • Pretzels
  • Crushed potato chips (bottom of the bag is great!)
  • Etc.

Give them instructions or help them to melt the chocolate bark part, pour it onto each person’s parchment-paper-covered sheet pan, have them spread it out with a spatula, then they can get to decorating.

3. Create Thanksgiving-Scented Candles

Your teens can be in charge of making soy-based candles with Thanksgiving scents to:

  • Use in the table centerpiece
  • Give out to guests as a mini-gift
  • Give as a hostess gift
  • Enjoy

4. Cook Breakfast for the Parents

teen boy and girl in kitchen cooking pancakes for parents on thanksgiving

Parents, you’re likely pretty busy on Thanksgiving Day – especially if you’re hosting.

Why not take this opportunity to let your teenagers take over in the kitchen and make breakfast for everyone?

Let them plan out what they want to make ahead of time, help them purchase any ingredients they’ll need (you could tack them onto your own Thanksgiving grocery list), and then give them as much free reign as you think they can handle.

Great learning experience, and you might just get some much-needed fuel on that day.

Hint: this might just become one of your favorite small family Thanksgiving traditions.

5. Put them in Charge of the Centerpiece…for the Kids’ Table

Maybe you don’t want to hand over the centerpiece to your teens to handle…but what about for the kid’s table?

Let your teens design, plan, shop for, and then create a centerpiece that they can proudly display on Thanksgiving Day (the kids will likely think it’s cool that their older cousins/siblings made something for them, too).

6. Play Thanksgiving Pictionary…Blindfolded

Your teen may or may not find Pictionary cool…but if they have to do it blindfolded? Well, that certainly might intrigue them.

Here’s a free Thanksgiving Pictionary printable.

7. Make a Mini-Car Macy’s Day Parade

colorful matchbox cars lined up in rows on white background

Let your teens borrow their sibling’s matchbox cars, and create a mini-Macy’s Day float parade.

They can have a lot of fun with this – they could attach pipe cleaners and wires around signs they create, or tie strings with balloons, feathers, or any number of things.

The younger kids can even help them execute on the “parade route” at the end.  

Psst: get a jump-start on Christmas with these Christmas activities for teens.

8. Play Minute-to-Win-it Games

There are all kinds of silly and hilarious Thanksgiving-=themed minute-to-win-it games out there.

I’ll highlight a few here:

  • Stuff the Turkey
  • Candy Corn Ring Toss
  • Turkey Rockets
  • Etc.

And here’s a free scorecard printable, plus tons more ideas.

Psst: your teens too-cool-for-school and don’t want to participate? That’s fine. Put them in charge of running the games for everyone. Win-win!

9. Give them a Turkey Cake to Bake

teen and tween sisters cracking an egg in kitchen and making a turkey cake, having fun

Hear me out on this hands-on Thanksgiving activity: some of my most cherished teenager memories came from attempting the basically-impossible, and laughing my way through it with another teen friend.

Give your teens the crazy task of trying to pull off one of those Pinterest-worthy turkey cakes…and dare to serve whatever their creation looks like.

Can I say, #PinterestFail in the making?

#memories

10. Do a Thanksgiving-Themed Jelly Belly Bean Taste Test Challenge

Did you know that Jelly Belly beans have a Fall line?

It includes flavors like:

  • Red Apple
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Toasted Marshmallow

Snag a fall mix of their bags (you might have to buy a few different varieties; for example, it looks like pumpkin pie comes in its own bag), and set up a taste-testing station for your teens to do. Include a blindfold and some paper/pen so that they can record what they thought each one was.

11. Set Up a Candied Grapes Station

white bowl of brightly colored jello covered candy grapes

I’ve heard teens are kinda obsessed with Jolly Ranchers (remember those from our childhood?).

Set up a station where your teens get to make candied grapes.

Like these jolly-rancher covered ones, or these Jello-flavored ones.

Psst: snag a few more ideas with these Thanksgiving activities for high school students.

12. Have their Friends Over for Candy Apple-Making

tray of chocolate covered apples with colorful sprinkles, candies, etc. on them

Maybe you don’t want to host an entire Friendsgiving – that’s totally fine. You could just invite your teen’s closest friends over leading up to Turkey Day, and set up a candy-apply-making station.

They can make the traditional red-coated ones, or have them dip the apples in melted chocolate and add any of the following toppings:

  • Sprinkles
  • Chopped nuts
  • Coconut flakes
  • Candies
  • Etc.

13. Make Tie-Dye Turkey Cookies

Use these turkey cookie cutters, and these instructions for making tie-dye cookies, and let your teens make some rad (is that a word anyone uses anymore?), colorful turkey cookies.

14. Put them in Charge of Making Fido’s Thanksgiving Dinner

wood cutting board of homemade doggie thanksgiving biscuits and dog-bone cookie cutter

Maybe your teen doesn’t want to work on their cooking skills by helping cook the big meal…but how about cooking a Thanksgiving treat or meal for your family dog?

That’s cool.

Here are some Thanksgiving Doggie Recipes:

15. Let them Take Over the Blender

decadent pumpkin pie milkshake in mason jar with handle, with caramel and pecans on top

There are so many fun, yummy, and…interesting Thanksgiving-flavored milkshakes.

Let your teens plan out the kind they want to try – researching the recipes, writing down the ingredients that they need, and then actually creating them.

16. Present them with a Gratitude Journal

Here’s a really cool teen gratitude journal that you can give to your teenager to start on Thanksgiving Day.

The prompts are fun and thought-provoking, and they include a mood tracker as well.

17. Do a Thanksgiving Cosmic Yoga

Okay…so your teens/tweens might get totally into this (or it might be way too young for them).

But I thought I’d mention it because sometimes silly kid things are just the thing a teenager needs to break a smile and have some fun.

Here are two free Cosmic Yoga Videos:

We may miss the days when our child-now-teen used to smile and jump up-and-down in excitement for an upcoming holiday. But we don’t need to throw in the towel on continuing to build a relationship while enjoying the holidays with our teens. Pick one or two of these Thanksgiving activities for teens, and continue building those family memories right through the teen years.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2017 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.