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Don’t Say Turkey (Taboos and Tokens)

Materials Needed

  • A taboo word
  • A token for each guest
  • This game is an excellent choice to lead off your Thanksgiving party. Since you play it passively throughout the event, it is a good idea to start it as soon as possible.

    The Set Up: The first thing to do is to select a taboo word, meaning a word(or short phrase) your guests are not allowed to say. The most obvious choice is “Turkey” which will work just fine, but if you wish you can choose another word like Thanksgiving, football, pilgrim, or anything you wish that is likely to be said frequently at your party. Now you need tokens. Clothespins are commonly used since they are easy to clip onto and remove from clothing without doing any damage.

    The Rules: To start the game inform all of your guests of the taboo word. Give them each a token and explain to them that whenever they say the taboo word they will lose their token to the first player to call them out. Now start the game. If Aunt Sue accidently says the taboo word and Cousin Earl is the first to point out her mistake, then Aunt Sue must give Cousin Earl her token. Now Sue has no tokens and Earl has two tokens. The only way for Aunt Sue to get a token back is to be the first to call out someone else when they say the taboo word.

    The game continues throughout the party until a predetermined time close to the end when the game is called to a halt. The person who has the most tokens at the close of the game is declared the winner and gets a prize.

    Craft Option: You can add orange, brown or gold, stickers, paint or anything else you can imagine to your tokens. Since guests will be wearing them throughout the party , many people choose to fancy them up.

    Tom Turkey, Kick the Can

    Materials Needed

  • an empty soda can
  • some chalk
  • To start off the game, draw a large chalk circle in the center of the play area. Then choose one player who will be “it.” The object of the game for the “it” player is to keep the empty soda can, which is to represent Tom Turkey, within this chalk circle at all times while every other player tries to sneak up on him or her and free Tom.

    The “it” player must set the can in the center of the chalk circle and cover their eyes, counting to one hundred. (If they count fast; if not, the count can be a lower number.) While the “it” player counts, all the other players are to try and hide. Once the count is up, the “it” player’s job is to then seek out the other players and tag them, eliminating them from the game.

    Whoever the “it” player tags must stop right where they were tagged until the game ends. If one of the players is able to reach the can and kick it, they are to shout out “T.” The can is then placed back in to the center of the circle and the game must begin again with the “it” player counting and the other players all hiding. The second time a player is able to kick the can, they are to shout out “O.” The game continues until Tom the Turkey’s name is spelled out; T-O-M. Then a new “it” player is chosen.

    In order for the “it” player to win, they must succeed in preventing the can from being kicked for three rounds.

    Play a Game of Football

    Materials Needed

  • a football
  • The first order of business is to divide your guests up into teams. If you think you have a good idea of the athletic ability of your guests and how to balance the sides you can pick teams beforehand. If not, pick two captains and have them select their own teams in an alternating draft. The important part is that both teams end up with a balance of talent.

    Mark off a field in a large open area that has been cleared of any rocks, sticks or anything that might cause someone to twist an ankle. One team gets the ball to start and they have four downs, if they complete two passes they get a first down and four new downs. It is usually best to not allow running plays at all. If a team fails to score or get a first down after four plays the other teams gets the ball. Keep playing until one team scores five times or for an specified amount of time.


    Materials Needed

  • a handkerchief or bandana
  • To start the game have your guests stand in a circle. Give someone the Thankerchief(which is actually a handkerchief or bandana) and the guests start passing it around as fast as they are able while chanting:

    Thankerchief, thankerchief, around you go,
    Where you’ll stop, nobody knows,
    But when you do, someone must say,
    What they are thankful for this day.

    When you come to the end of the poem the person holding the thankerchief shares with the group one thing that they are thankful for on Thanksgiving. Start the game over and continue playing until everyone has had a chance.

    “At the Greatest Thanksgiving Feast…” Memory Game

    Materials Needed

  • A good memory
  • If you have a sharp and focused group of players this game can last a surprisingly long time. Try to keep the pace of play rapid, sometimes guests will take forever trying to get it right.

    The Set Up: Have your guests sit in a circle in a large open area and select a random player to start.

    The Rules: The first player will say, “ At the greatest Thanksgiving feast they served __________” filling in the blank with whatever Thanksgiving food they choose. It can be realistic like “cranberry sauce” or outrageous like “Beluga caviar”. For purposes of example the first person said ” cranberry sauce”. The person to the left of the starter(clockwise) goes next. They will say, ” At the greatest Thanksgiving feast they served cranberry sauce and __________” filling in the blank with whatever they choose. The third person would say the entire phrase including both of the previous answers(in order) and add a third.

    This continues moving left around the circle with each person repeating what the previous person said and adding an additional Thanksgiving food until someone forgets a previous food, messes up the order or in some way makes a mistake. That person is out and leaves the circle. The person to the left of the person that is now out starts the game over again from scratch. Continue playing and eliminating players until only one person remains. That person is a very deserving winner.

    If the Game is Taking Too Long: Sometimes this game can bog down with guests taking long turns. If your game starts to slow down or even from the very beginning you can add a five second rule. So if any player on their turn goes for more than 5 seconds without adding to the list they are eliminated.


    Materials Needed

  • a big pile of leaves
  • Rake up a lot of leaves into a big pile, the bigger the better. Hide wrapped candies, small Thanksgiving themed toys, a few dollars bills, or anything else that kids will want in the pile of leaves. Invite the kids outside and have them stand in a circle around the leaves. Tell them about the goodies hidden in the pile and then give a Ready, Set, Go and make sure you are out of the way.

    There is no single winner for this game but all of the kids get to keep what they find.

    Who is Thankful for What?

    Materials Needed

  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Pass out pieces of paper to all of your party guests and ask them to write down the one thing they are most thankful for on this Thanksgiving, taking care not to let anyone else see their answer. Make sure to tell them not to use names or anything that would make it easy to know that they wrote it. For example, “I am thankful for the health of my wife and children” works great for the game but, “I am thankful for the health of my wife Nancy and my two boys Nicky and Mason” does not work. After everyone has finished, collect up the answers and give everyone a new sheet of paper.

    Put all of the answers in a bowl and mix them up. Draw one answer from the bowl, label it number one and read it to the your party guests. Yours guests have to guess who wrote the first answer, labeling it as number one on their paper. Repeat the process until all of the answers have been read aloud.

    Go back to the first answer and reread it to your party guests. The person who wrote it should identify themselves and explain why they chose their answer. Everyone who correctly guessed the author of the first answer gets a point. Continue the process until compete and whichever guest has the most points is declared the winner.