Fun and Free Things You Can Do on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It hasn’t been overly-commercialized like Christmas – and remains focused on togetherness and gratefulness.

Like many holidays though, it can come with a little bit of stress. Especially if you are gathering with family or friends you don’t see a lot. There can be awkward moments and family drama.

Oftentimes, some of the best ways to avoid this is with a little bit of planning and having activities going on. Not that the day has to be full of things to do. I’m a big fan of doing nothing.

Still, diversions can be helpful. And, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on these either.

Here’s a few that you can add to your Thanksgiving day that are free to do and may add some extra joy and thankfulness to your gathering. I’d love to hear what you are up to!


Interview your grandparents and elders

This is something that we really cherish here. Charlie has some wonderful interviews with his grandpa and grandma about the Great Depression, life on the farm and even marriage. Since his grandpa is no longer with us – it’s a treasure to go back on these interviews and listen to his advice and words. This is something I also did with my grandma.

We can learn a ton from those older than us. Why not capture some of these interviews with your video camera (most of us have these on our phones today).

StoryCorps is doing a wonderful project in collecting interviews from our elders which will be archived in the US Library of Congress. Can you imagine what a gift this will be for future generations?

Here’s more about that if you wish to participate:

Family tree

For those of us adverse to the camera, another neat thing to do is to research the family tree. An aunt on my father’s side of the family has done their family tree and it is fun to lo look back on the geneology. You can use (for a fee) or even using the National Archives census records to find your families. I did this one year and got my grandpa’s parents log. Many of these are high enough quality where you can print it out and frame.

Create a masterpiece

Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in you – having your Thanksgiving guests participate in a painting is kind of a fun idea. Put a giant canvas on an easel in a spacious area of your home and let others paint, write or draw on it. Perhaps you recommend a theme of “create something you are grateful for” or just allow folks to do whatever tickles their fancy! It can be fun to see what others come up with and how the “painting” turns out at the end of the day.

Peruse old photos

Not everyone is in to looking through old photos of grandpa John or great aunt Mabel – but I enjoy it. Maybe you have old footage you can show. It’s fun to look back and see how generations before us lived.

Use social media to connect

If you have a big family and everyone is all over the map and cannot connect over Thanksgiving – a neat thing to do is to create your own hashtag on Instagram or Twitter, snap of photo of your family gathering and post it online. This way everyone can access the hashtag and see everyone and what they are up to.


Something we have yet to do as a family – but hope to do one year around or on Thanksgiving is to carve out some time to do something for others. Sometimes we think serving has to be helping at a food pantry – but it could be as little as calling up or visiting someone who cannot leave their home.

There are just a few things you can do on Thanksgiving that shouldn’t cost you anything. Any other ideas you or your family does to celebrate?

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