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thanksgiving activities for church youth

Thanksgiving is an important time for the entire family. As a youth pastor, it’s not difficult to put together a fun-filled thanksgiving program for your kiddos. In fact, I’ve put together a sample Thanksgiving program format and ideas to help you! Our thanksgiving program ideas are special Thanksgiving programs for churches. Children, youth, and adults can all enjoy the same program! Our Thanksgiving programs include a great deal of fun activities for all ages including games, arts and crafts, Buddy Reads, dramatic play, and more!

A church youth group is always looking for ways to engage with their community. While we all want our kids to grow into loving, responsible adults, sometimes there are activities that are more engaging than others. That’s where a Thanksgiving Day program might be able to help! Thanksgiving activities can be a difficult thing to come up with sometimes. Especially when you are trying to find something for everyone! But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with some awesome ideas that will ensure that everyone gets engaged and has fun this Thanksgiving season.

thanksgiving activities for church youth

Whether you are a youth pastor or just a parent, Thanksgiving can be a tricky holiday. You want to be thankful but you also want the kids to understand why we don’t eat turkey and pumpkin pie for the entire month of November. In this article, I will give you ideas for activities that incorporate Thanksgiving into your church’s curriculum and are fun for the whole family!

Are you looking for some creative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving? Maybe all you need is something new and exciting, or maybe you’re just looking for ideas that may be too difficult of a task on your own. The list will be thorough and easy to follow. Thanksgiving is an important time for the entire family. As a youth pastor, it’s not difficult to put together a fun-filled thanksgiving program for your kiddos. In fact, I’ve put together a sample Thanksgiving program format and ideas to help you!

7 Fun DIY Thanksgiving Games

Use Thanksgiving games to bring enjoyment and laughter to your family gathering this year! Or these could easily be used with your Christian youth groups, Sunday school lessons, or any gathering of any age!

1 – “Thanksgiving Things”

A few years ago, one of our sons introduced us to a game called “The Game of Things”; we made our own with homemade questions on index cards. This could easily become a Thanksgiving game of Things!

All you’ll need are index cards, pens, slips of paper and people! On each index card right a prompt; we’ve given some examples as follows:

  • The thing I was most thankful for when I was three years old…
  • A famous person that I’m thankful that lived is…
  • One thing I am thankful God created is…
  • The Thanksgiving food I am most thankful for…
  • The last thing the Thanksgiving turkey thinks before his demise…
  • The thing I am most thankful God has given to me…
  • The first thing the Indians thought about the Pilgrims…
  • The first thing I am thankful for each morning…
  • One thing I am thankful I can smell…
  • The think I love most about the person to my left…

Have each player add to your prompts by writing their ideas on index cards too before starting the game; you’d be surprised with how creative some people can be!

In each round a different person is the “Reader.” They draw an index card, read it out loud, and everyone writes an answer on a slip of paper and passes it back to the Reader. The Reader fills out a slip, but does not guess during their round. The Reader rereads the prompt along with all the answers. Play begins with the person to the Reader’s left guessing which answer belongs to which person. If they get one right, they may guess again until they make an incorrect guess, and the next person to their left may try. If a person’s answer is guessed correctly, they are out for the round and may not have a turn guessing during the remainder of the round. After all answers have been correctly matched each person gets one point for each correct guess. Play rotates to the left and the person to the previous Reader’s left becomes the Reader for the next round.

What happens in our family since we know each other so well, instead of putting our own answer, we try to put what we think someone else might say to throw the other players off! This is such a simple, yet fun game; you learn a lot about each other too!

2 – Thanksgiving Name 5

Thanksgiving games of quick thinking can be competitive or used as a fun group activity to celebrate Thanksgiving.  You have ten seconds to name five things having to do with a certain category such as – “5 Thanksgiving Food,” “5 Words that rhyme with Thank,”, “5 Things you thank God for that begin with G,” etc.  Download and print our free game cards that also include extra so you can make up your own!

3 – “I Spy” thanksgiving

Play this game just like the normal game, but looking for things for which we can be thankful – “I Spy with my little eye something that is blue for which I thank God.”  You could even incorporate other adjectives for a little variety – “something wet”, “something tall”, “ something noisy”, etc.! This could be done in any setting – classroom or Thanksgiving dinner table with no set up or needed items!  

Thanksgiving games will not only help us to focus on having an attitude of gratitude, but they also will add to the fun memories of spending time together!

4 – Thanksgiving Games of Scavenger hunt

Our family has always loved the challenge of a scavenger hunt! Thanksgiving is of course a time we focus on being thankful! This is a fun way to have kids (as well as adults) be creative in their thinking of the many things for which we should give thanks for to God.

Instructions: Your team needs to find one of item for each description of things you for which you may be thankful. If this is played in a classroom, you may play it more like “I Spy” and have participants write down as a team the things they see for which they are thankful with the descriptions.

Thankful List –

  • Something Green
  • Something that smells good
  • Something that smells bad
  • Something long and skinny
  • Something black
  • Something flat
  • Something that can tickle
  • Something that …..

The list could go on and on. Once the time is up, have teams show or tell what they found and why they are thankful for each item.  You may want to include how each one can remind us of God such as the thing that “smells good” can remind us we can be a sweet aroma to God by how we live. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

5 – Memory Thanksgiving games

When I was younger I loved games like this! But now that I’m older it is so much harder that I feel at a major disadvantage!

There are many ways to present this game. You can place many Thanksgiving items on a cookie tray. Let everyone look at it for about a minute and then remove it from sight. Everyone then tries to write down as many things as they can remember! Items may also be placed on a table and then covered from site. Use a variety of items from a cutout picture of a turkey to an acorn to a can of cranberries, etc.

Make sure to include a Bible  as one of the items! 🙂  After the winner is named, read a few verses about remembering God and being thankful.

Psalm 77:11 NIV “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”

Psalm 143:5 NIV “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done.”

Take time to remember another meal…the Last Supper. And time to remember all that it represented. Truly we have a lot for which to give thanks!

6 -Thanksgiving Scattergories

The folks at U-CreateCrafts.com have put together a free printable to get your family started playing a Thanksgiving version of the fun group game – Scattergories!  


7 – The gratitude Game (Pick-up sticks)

Karyn over at TeachBesideMe.com has created a fun Thanksgiving version of a game most of us played as kids – Pick-Up Sticks! She gives instructions and printables to make your own version of The Gratitude Game. She also has recommendations for Thanksgiving books and other fun Thanksgiving activities!


Thanksgiving Bible Verses

I love the idea of Thanksgiving games like this because it can begin a time of sharing other memories that are special! This could even set the stage for memorizing one of the Bible verses as a family or class.


Thanksgiving games and other ideas are helpful in creating wonderful memories among family as well as friends! Bible Games Central has some great DIY free Thanksgiving games too!

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