Thanksgiving is the one time of the year we can slow down and show gratitude towards our loved ones. Being the Thanksgiving host in your family can be a large feat, but with this guide you’ll get ideas for new and fun ways to entertain your guests all night long.
With the past few years turning the world upside down, it may feel right to put a twist on your Thanksgiving tradition. Planning a festive Thanksgiving game night that includes all of your guests is a surefire way to create a lasting tradition that everyone will look forward to all year long! With this helpful guide, you’ll be able to be the best Thanksgiving host, with guests coming back year after year.
Game Ideas for Everyone
First, you’ll need to find a few games that will suit everybody’s needs for Thanksgiving game night. By including members of all ages, it gives the games a fun competitive edge. It’s an opportunity for the family to bond, and for older adults or kids to teach the young ones rules about the game, how to play, tips and tricks, and share fond memories of the past. As a host you have some special tasks which include, coming up with entertainment and food ideas, cleaning, and decorating, and making sure your home is cozy and can accommodate a large group. Keep reading for a list of different game options to fit everyone’s needs and other helpful hosting tips that will ensure a fun, carefree game night!
Back to game ideas, consider breaking up the larger group into smaller teams, and letting them conquer a board or card game together. Depending on the size of your party, your small teams could range from 2–7 people or more. Having a plethora of games to choose from like Monopoly, several sets of cards, dominoes, Clue, Cards Against Humanity, and Twister are all great additions that give people the option to play with a small group or a larger set of teams of two or three. Allowing your guests to choose their teams will make this process go easier, and take the burden off of your hosting shoulders. Don’t forget to utilize your rooms and spread your guests out throughout the house if they’re playing group games, to give everyone enough space.
Game nights are perfect for including kids and adults, and gives older kids the opportunity to experience healthy responsibility and a chance to teach their younger relatives new words, game tricks, and interact with them. If there is a greater age difference in your family, board games, spelling games, and card games are the perfect chance for grandparents to bond with younger ones. Check out these ideas below that are fun for any age, and interactive!
Act It Out
An easy way to incorporate everyone in Thanksgiving game night without using board games is to act it out! Games like charades or Guess Who? are classics that all ages can participate in and accommodate all abilities. Even if your health needs require you to sit, you can still join in the fun by acting out your scene or character without having to stand! This is a simple game that even young kids can pick up on, and may be an easy option for a bigger crowd since there aren’t many components required to play. Just yourselves and your imagination!
Without needing the physical copy of Guess Who? you can revamp it to be played in person with all of your friends and family. All you need is a marker, some scrap paper, a hat or bowl, and your sense of humor. Everyone writes down their name and puts it in the hat, and each player gets a turn to go up, choose out of the hat, and try to make everyone else guess the name you chose! Try to make it tricky, but you can use words, phrases, actions, or stories to convey your chosen person.
Since it is Thanksgiving, it can’t hurt to put some holiday touches onto the games! For charades, you can make a rule that the only things you can act out must be Thanksgiving related, such as cooking a turkey, playing football, or being a holiday shopper.
Jumbo Size It!
With a large group during game night, it can be hard to include everyone around a small game board. Consider making the game pieces larger, so you can spread them out on the floor and make a jumbo board! Games like Scrabble are easy to do this with, especially if you already have a tile floor. Draw out big letters on paper, print them out, or give the kids in your extended family a little homework before Thanksgiving. Tell them to each make 5 huge letters on paper and bring them to the game night, so once everyone has arrived, so has the whole game!
Another game that’s easily life-sizeable is Jenga. It’s become a popular party game to play Giant Jenga and you can find it sold at places like Target and Amazon. However, if you’re in a pinch or can’t find it on the shelves, this is an easy game you can make at home and will last you forever! Use scrap wood in your basement or garage or buy some from a hardware store, cut them into same-size rectangles, and stack them high. Jumbo games like these will be a huge hit with all guests, because they’re more interactive and engaging than the small versions, and may allow more players to join in.
Modern Games for Tech Lovers
Thanksgiving game night can also be for tech lovers and video game fans. If you want to kick your night up a notch, transform your backyard into an outdoor theater for virtual games or movies. Outdoor screens are becoming very popular and with a few additions, your space can be transformed. To start, a few things you’ll need to set up are a projector and screen, a strong wifi connection, and a gaming console like a PS4, XBOX, or Nintendo Switch to stream your game or movie. Online games like JackBox.tv are perfect for large groups where everyone can play using their own digital devices (either a smartphone or tablet). There are hundreds of games to choose from on JackBox, and you can simply download the game onto your console of choice, and join the game using your smartphone. Since you’ll already have your console set up outside, there are other games like Nintendo Sports or Mario Party that will have you up on your feet, white water rafting, playing tennis, and making sure your teammates are keeping up!
When setting up an outdoor theater you want to make sure all of your guests are comfortable. This is a great time to revamp your backyard or patio with external lighting, speakers, and seating. Investing some money into your outdoor home theater space will transform the overall feel of your backyard, and really wow your guests. To fund an outdoor improvement project consider utilizing a home equity line of credit loan. This will allow you to use the equity in your home and take only what you need for the project. Offering a lower interest rate than a personal loan or credit card, it’ll save you money in the long haul. Use these funds to update your outdoor space with comfortable seating, lighting, a patio or deck cover, and a sound system. A few ideas that don’t require too much time are adding rock speakers, solar deck lights or landscape lighting, and built-in seating. Your outdoor theater will be all ready for game night and future movie nights. Depending on the weather, set up outdoor heaters for your guests to stay warm while competing against each other in Wii or Jackbox games.
To pair well with the fun games and activities of Thanksgiving game night, your guests will need snacks and refreshments to keep them going! Take this opportunity to make fun, festive drinks and snacks for your guests to help themselves to, so you don’t have to worry about serving everyone individually, and you can enjoy the fun too! We recommend setting your refreshment table up in your kitchen, dining room, or an area close to the game section. This way, guests can easily help themselves as they please.
Set up a table of your choosing so your guests can move right down the line and create their Thanksgiving treat of choice! A popular spread that everyone will love is a hot cocoa or hot cider bar. Be sure you have a large hot beverage dispenser to hold either your chocolate or cider, keeping it warm and convenient so guests can fill up their own cups as they please. If it’s too short notice for you to purchase one in stores or online, have no fear! Party and event companies often rent out thermoses suitable for serving a large number of guests. Find a party rental service near you, and see if using a dispenser from them would work for your Thanksgiving night.
We suggest setting out a line of bowls filled with toppings. Chocolate chips, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, or cherries for the hot cocoa finishings, and caramel, cinnamon sticks, and orange slices, for the hot cider. Add a fancy touch by lining the rims of the glasses or cups by dipping them in a plate of honey with cinnamon, so the rim sticks. Don’t forget the whipped cream on top, and if you’re feeling really fancy, garnishes like chocolate shavings, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and whole chocolates taste great and look festive on top.
For the adults, you can even offer the option of adding alcohol to their cocoa or cider, to give it that extra oomph for the holidays. Offering your guests multiple activities from games to food throughout the evening will keep everyone satisfied and engaged.
To truly host the ideal Thanksgiving game night, you’ll need to be sure your home is set up to comfortably accommodate all of your guests and the festivities of the evening. Make sure you’re considering all of your guests when preparing your home for your game night. Keep in mind as your relatives get older, some things may become more difficult for them, and their feelings around the holidays may change. Be sure to check out our advice for a successful Thanksgiving with aging parents for some tips on how to make them best comfortable in your home. Oftentimes, their mobility has gotten worse, maybe their memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and they just aren’t up-to-date with what’s trending. Remember to include your older relatives too, as they want to join in the game night fun! Make sure they have comfortable seating and aren’t getting up constantly to grab things, have someone else help them there. Also, it’s a good idea to “rope off” a guest bedroom or quiet space for your older loved ones to retreat and rest if they get overstimulated.
Hosting a sleepover at your home is also an option after your games have finished. Not everyone will want to stay, but if you have close family, lots of young cousins, or longtime friends visiting town, letting some guests stay the night can be a fun option! If your home has the room, you can let adults take the guest bedrooms and the young ones can take over the living room or basement for the night.
You can be sure your very first Thanksgiving game night will be a success by planning ahead, keeping your guests in mind, and taking note of what went right during the evening! Remember, you can’t control everything. Your job as a host is to supply a warm, inviting space for family and loved ones to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Not every minute has to be scheduled, because the night is supposed to be fun! Enjoy the games, each other, and hopefully keep the tradition of a holiday game night for years to come.