Fun and Frugal Thanksgiving Ideas for Kids of All Ages

Thanksgiving will be here in a mere two weeks. There’s something about the start of the holiday season that inspires me to get together with my kids to come up with fun and frugal ideas and activities to do together. This may not sound like much, but I assure you that I am not normally a crafty person, so this is big.

Last week we just finished our Thanksgiving unit study, and we had so much fun that I’ve decided to share with you some of our favorite activities and books. What better way to prepare for a holiday season that’s going to pop up before you know it, anyway? 

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books

Our Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be complete without this heartwarming tale illustrating that sometimes looks can be deceiving.


What Thanksgiving lesson would be complete without learning about Squanto?


This book is a wonderful read for anyone who wants to know more than the basics about the Thansgiving tradition.


This Level 3 reader is perfect for children who are just beginning to gain some independence in their reading.


This book is chock full of beautiful illustrations and has just the right amount of text for new readers.


Generally, I use chapter books for our family read-alouds; however, since I knew we were only spending two weeks on Thanksgiving I chose this instead. I’m so glad I did. This book brings characters that we all know from history books, like Captain Miles Standish, William Bradford, and Massasoit to life in a way that only a true living book can.


Fun and Frugal Thanksgiving Activities

Make clove apples and pomanders.

These are such a simple gift to make for others or are perfect to use as a seasonal air freshener. They’re as simple as 1-2-3!

  1. Purchase some apples, oranges, and whole cloves.
  2. Using a toothpick, make tiny holes in your apple or orange to insert the clove into. (You can just push the cloves in without making a hole first, but this may be hard on little fingers.) You can make a design with the cloves or simply place them all over the piece of fruit. Remember that the more cloves you add, the longer the fruit will stay fresh!
  3. Attach a string or ribbon to the top of the fruit, and hang it somewhere where everyone will enjoy the spicy fragrance!


Make name place cards for Thanksgiving dinner.

My kids loved making these last year, and they were a great way for them to practice their cursive. 🙂 Another simple, yet enjoyable craft!

  1. Buy some plain index cards or some card stock to cut into smaller pieces, some pretty gel pens, and some Thanksgiving stickers from the dollar store.
  2. Have your child write each person’s name in the center and decorate the border with the stickers. (Optional- write a favorite verse or a simple greeting on the other side of the card.)


Let your little ones make hand turkeys!

What Thanksgiving would be complete without some hand turkeys?


Paint or make a chalk pastel picture of the first Thanksgiving.

What kids don’t love to pull out the chalk pastels and paint?


Watch some Charlie Brown videos!

My kids absolutely loved watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Mayflower specials. Who would’ve thought that a cartoon that didn’t employ computer graphics would be able to hold a child’s attention? Go figure.


Paint some tulip fields.

One thing I learned this year is that the separatists didn’t go straight to America. First, they spent quite a bit of time in Holland. Going over this with my kids sparked a discussion of the iconic tulip fields of the Netherlands and prompted them to paint some of their own tulip fields.


Do some baking!

There are so many recipes out there for this holiday, and they’re all available at the click of a mouse. Try baking some pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin bread, apple crisp, or any other Thanksgiving dessert you fancy! Kids love to help…and lick the bowl. 🙂


Make a Tree of Thanks.

This is another fun and frugal craft to do together.

  1. Get a roll of butcher paper at the dollar store.
  2. Roll out a large piece and paint a tree without leaves on it.
  3. Hang it on a door or the wall.
  4. Have your children trace their hands on autumn colored paper and cut them out.
  5. Ask them to write one thing they’re thankful for on each hand.
  6. Glue them to the branches of the tree as the “leaves.”


I hope these ideas have inspired you in some way to have fun with your kids and get some creative juices flowing. What are some fun ways you celebrate this time of year?


Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

43 thoughts on “Fun and Frugal Thanksgiving Ideas for Kids of All Ages”

  1. These are all great ideas. We often do a tree of thanks but this year I printed out a 30 Day Thankful Challenge and I’m having my kids use it to write what they are thankful for. It’s been a lot of fun and got us away from the usual responses.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love these. Was looking for some fun Thanksgiving things to do with my grandkids – ages 8 & 2 1/2. The 2 1/2 year old LOVES stickers, so I think I’ll do the place cards with her. Maybe the pomanders with my 8 year old. Thanks for the great ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are all such great ideas! I actually know someone who does the Thanksgiving in a more literal way – she has a branch, and lets people hang little leaf-shaped papers on it. Basically everybody who enters her house has to hang up a paper, I kind of want to do that one as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awe, love all of your suggestions. We have made the hand print tree where we write down all of the things we a re thankful for before. I need to pick up some of your book suggestions and plan some baking in the coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These are all such wonderful ideas and I love that you compiled them into a master list. Great idea! Thanks for the excellent post. I’m glad I found you on the Productive Week Link Up and I’ll be sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Saturday Salutes

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