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Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar Activity Ideas for Families

If you’re looking for ideas to help you celebrate and appreciate Thanksgiving this year, I’ve rounded up a bunch for you. These Thanksgiving countdown calendar activity ideas range from simple to more complex. Just pick the ones that work best for your family.

The Thanksgiving countdown calendar was one of the first projects I ever shared on this blog. Recently I was going through my old content and realized that both the tutorial and the activities for the countdown calendar could use a refresh. Today I’m excited to share with you the updated and refreshed countdown list.

A few years ago I made a Thanksgiving countdown calendar. If you’d like to make one for yourself you can find a free pattern to make it here. If you’d like to buy one already made you can find a cute one here.

After I made the calendar I realized that I needed ideas for activities to fill the pockets on the countdown calendar.

I’ve come up with 10 different activity ideas for your Thanksgiving countdown. I’d love to hear if you have ideas as well, leave them in the comments below.

(This post has been updated from a previously published version).

10+ Gratitude and Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar Activity Ideas:

Idea One: Make 12 Quilted Shapes:

I made a Turkey and a Pumpkin with some leftover charm pieces. You will have PLENTY to make 12 things to fit in all the pockets if you want!  

It would be easy to think of 12 little “things” to make for your pockets.. you could make, leaves, pumpkins, pilgrim hats, turkeys,  boats. The list goes on- look for online coloring pages for shapes to use.

Link to the Turkey Applique Pattern can be found here

Idea Two: Fill the pockets with 12 facts about Thanksgiving

Just go to Wikipedia, you’ll find out more than you ever thought you’d want to know about Thanksgiving!

Idea Three: A “Quote a Day” about Gratitude

12 Gratitude Quotes:

1. God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say “thank you?”  ~William A. War

2. The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.  ~H.U. Westermayer

3. Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.  ~G.B. Stern

4. There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed.  If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.  ~Robert Braul

5. For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
6. If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.  ~Frank A. Clark
7. He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus
8. Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.  ~W.T. Purkiser
9. Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.  ~William Faulkner

10. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

11. We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.  ~Cynthia Ozick
12. Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.  ~Author Unknown

Idea Four: A Thanksgiving Craft A Day: 

Your kids will love pulling it out of the pocket to see what they get to do that day! You could use a combo of “pre-made” bought crafts (like fun foam stuff) and some homemade ones. Here are some links to some fun ones to try.

12 Thanksgiving Crafts to Do with your Kids:

Make  a Turkey Votive Holder

Turkey Centerpiece made from a Pumpkin and Fruit Kabobs

Make place cards for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Color a Picture to hang on our wall- you can find Free Thanksgiving coloring pages to print here.

Make “crackers” to have at Thanksgiving Dinner.

Don’t be fooled!  Turn an Oreo into a Turkey!

Make Bingo cards to keep our guests entertained on Thanksgiving day.

Turn a pine cone into a Turkey! 

Go on a nature hike and gather fall leaves!

Read a story about Thanksgiving 

Build your own Mayflower!

Idea Five: 12 silly “jokes” about Thanksgiving

Fill your Thanksgiving countdown calendar with a joke a day! Just hit “print friendly” at the bottom of this post and print out the jokes. Cut them into strips and tuck them into the pockets of your countdown calendar.

Q: Why did the farmer run a steamroller over his potato field on Thanksgiving Day? A: He wanted to raise mashed potatoes.

Q: Why did the turkey cross the road? A: It was Thanksgiving Day, and he wanted people to think he was a chicken!

Q: What is a turkey’s favorite dessert? A: Peach gobbler!

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store for Thanksgiving Day, but couldn’t find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?” “No, ma’am. They’re dead.”

Q: What did the turkey say to the computer? A:  “Google, google, google.”

Q: What kind of music did the Pilgrims listen to at the first Thanksgiving feast A: Plymouth Rock!

Q: What do you call a turkey on the day after Thanksgiving? A: Lucky.

Q: Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building? A: Yes, of course! A building can’t jump at all.

Q: What’s the best song to sing when preparing your turkey? A: “All About That Baste.”

My family told me to stop telling Thanksgiving jokes …… but I told them I couldn’t quit “cold turkey.”

Q: Knock Knock. A: Who’s there? Norma Lee. Q: Norma Lee who? Norma Lee I don’t eat this much!

Q: Who is not hungry at Thanksgiving? A: The turkey because he’s already stuffed!

Idea Six: A gratitude “project” a day for your family

1- Today write a letter letting your teachers know how much you appreciate them.

2- Don’t take things for granted, find something today that you can give to someone who needs it more than you.

3-Today, find a way to serve your neighbor.

4-Do something nice, and totally unexpected for another member of your family

5-Write a sincere letter to someone who has had a profound influence on your life.

6- Say “thank you” at least 10 times today.

7- Write 5 Thank You notes today, and MAIL THEM (email does NOT count!)

8- Bake a special treat for someone in your life who you truly appreciate.

9- For one week, in your prayers, only thank God for the blessings in your life, don’t ask for anything.

10- Give someone a HUG!

11- Do a chore today without being asked.

12- Call your parents and tell them how grateful you are for everything they have ever done for you.

Idea Seven: Try a new Autumn Recipe each day

This would be a fun one to do if you do not have small children at home. For recipe suggestions try these popular recipes at Lil Luna.

Idea Eight: Conversation Starters for Thanksgiving Dinner

You can download for free, this printable with over 48 Dinner conversation starters at Living Locurto.

Idea Nine: A RAK each day

Decide each day on one Random Act of Kindness to complete. Put the RAK’s on small pieces of paper and slip them into the pockets. On that day pull out the paper and complete the act of kindness.

Ideas for Random Act’s of Kindness

  1. Pay for the food of the person behind you in the drive-through line.
  2. Take in your neighbor’s garbage cans.
  3. Put away your sibling’s shoes/laundry/bags.
  4. Deliver comfort kits to those in need in your community.
  5. Let someone cut ahead of you in line at the store.
  6. Pick up litter.
  7. Give a stranger a compliment
  8. Leave a stack of quarters at the laundromat.
  9. Double your normal tip at a restaurant.
  10. Drop off cookies to a neighbor.
  11. Bring treats in to work to share with your coworkers.
  12. Smile at everyone you meet that day.

Idea Ten: Candy

If all else fails and you run out of time, just fill it with candy! Hey, we’re all human right? We can only do so much.

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  1. Oh, this is ingenious!!! I absolutely love the calendar and all of your ideas. The turkey is too stinkin’ cute. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this. Now I have to make one. Oooo, just think…a Halloween one or even a birthday one. LOL!

  2. question for you, which is totally random, but do you mind sharing what paint you used in your craft room and your daughters bedroom?
    thanks a bunch!

  3. LOVE this idea! Thanks for sharing. I’m linking this post to my blog so I can have all of your great ideas for what to do each day. Thanks.

  4. Ok I just love these ideas, especially the gratitude ones as well as the crafts, what is Thansgiving, what thankful for. I guess i just love them all. I would love for yopu to post your pattern for the pumpkin and turkey. THANK YOU for all you do

  5. This is awesome and much better than trying to fill all 30 days! I love the colors and your little quilited turkey. So cute and all your ideas should be enough to fill that calendar up with something different each year just based on what stage your children are in. I just love it.

  6. I just started cutting out squares for mine today – perfect timing. Thanks for all the ideas.

  7. I love it! You are so talented to be able to make this up. The colors, turkey, and ways to use the pockets are perfect.

    I love all your ideas and projects. You really are so talented (and a hard worker too, because talent often takes years of practice!)

    Wishing I could have gone to St. James with you. I LOVE that place and I was one of the crazy ones last year and brought the girls (in a stroller). Thank heavens they were so good!

    Miss you!

  8. This is a fantastic post. I don’t think I have ever seen a thanksgiving advent calendar. The number of ideas you have listed and the gratitude quotes are just wonderful. Thank you!

  9. Pingback: New Project: Thanksgiving Advent Calendar for the Classroom « TreeHouseTeaching
  10. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  11. Pingback: Thanksgiving Pins That Are Genius! | RENO FAMILY ON THE GO!

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