Fun Things To Do Thanksgiving Week + Our Fave Traditions and Kid-Friendly Recipes

Activities at HomeFall

Turkey Day is on its way! This marks the beginning of my favorite season because there are so many opportunities to spend time with family and friends, enjoying the traditions we wait for all year long. My husband and I typically host a very large group for Thanksgiving dinner so I spend much of the day preparing . . . which is no easy feat with two toddlers running around! But no matter how chaotic it is, I always feel so joyful on this day because it’s the start of all things festive. Keep reading for fun events going on the week of Thanksgiving, as well as a few Kidlist team traditions and kid-friendly recipes from my own kitchen!

Two Easy, Kid-Friendly Dessert Recipes for Thanksgiving

Grandma’s Famous Toffee Bars

My grandma used to make these for my mom when she was growing up, and in turn, she always made them for us. They are easy, require just a few ingredients, and are always a crowd-pleaser!


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 drops maple extract (this is the “toffee” flavor)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 full-size Hershey bars

Mix all ingredients together (except the chocolate) and pat into a lightly greased 13×9 pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Place unwrapped Hershey bars on top and melt in the oven for two minutes. Spread chocolate with a knife, cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

Madison’s “Famous Apple Pie”

Nicole’s daughter Madison came up with her own recipe for apple pie a few years ago and wrote it down. It is now a cherished item that Nicole will keep forever. They have since “perfected” the recipe with exact measurements, giving everyone the opportunity to try it at home. It’s super easy and kid-approved!

  • 1 store bought pie crust (to keep it simple!)
  • 2/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. all spice
  • 6 cups of thinly sliced/peeled apples

Toss all ingredients together and add to your favorite pie crust p. Madison loves to lattice the top of the pie crust to make it look fancy. Cover edges with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes.

Local Things to Do the Week of Thanksgiving 2021

Gobble Gobble Fun (Naperville)
November 19, 2021 | 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Register in advance.

It’s Thanksgiving, Downers Grove (Downers Grove)
November 20, 2021 | 9:15 – 10:30am, 11:00am – 12:15pm, 1:00 – 2:15pm
Register in advance.

Talkin’ Turkey (Wheaton)
November 22, 2021 | 10:00am – 11:00am
Register in advance.

Day Off Fun (Addison)
November 22-24, 2021 | 7:00am – 6:00pm
Register early.

School’s Out! (Bloomingdale)
November 22-24, 2021 | 8:30am – 12:00pm or 8:30am – 3:30pm
Register in advance.

Camp Coyote Turkey Break (Geneva)
November 22-24, 2021 | 9:00am – 12:00pm
Register in advance.

Turkey Camp (Warrenville)
November 22-24, 2021 | 9:00am – 4:00pm
Register in advance.

Passport To Adventure (Oak Park)
November 24, 2021 | 8:00am – 3:00pm
Register in advance.

Bookworms (Cosley Zoo, Wheaton)
November 24, 2021 | 9:30am – 10:00am
Register in advance.

Turkey Trot & Food Drive (Glen Ellyn)
November 25, 2021| 8:00am

Holiday Homecoming (St. Charles)
November 26,-28 2021 | Exact time TBD.

Tree Lighting Ceremony (Downers Grove)
November 26, 2021 | 4:30pm

Nature Story Trail: “Giving Thanks” (Trailside Museum of Natural History, River Forest)
November 26-28, 2021| 9:00am – 4:00pm

Happy Barksgiving One-Day Camp (Naperville Area Humane Society)
November 27, 2021 | 9:00am – 12:00pm

Small Business Saturday!
November 27, 2021 | all day

Celebration of Lights Festival (Batavia Riverwalk)
November 28, 2021 | 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Ideas for Thanksgiving Traditions

Rachel’s Family Thanksgiving Traditions

“We like to go run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning! The day after Thanksgiving, we put up our Christmas decorations while drinking hot cocoa and listening to carols.”

Kaitlyn’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“One that’s most special to me is sharing a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows with my Mom while we watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade. She usually makes chocolate croissants and never forgets to serve the hot chocolate in our holiday mugs. We have been doing this since I was little and even though I have my own house now, I still drive to hers on Thanksgiving morning – it’s actually my favorite part of the day because it’s usually the calm before the storm (and yes, we always put up our trees mid-November in this Family!)”

Jill B’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“I also love Thanksgiving. A few years ago, we started a “Today, I am thankful for….” chalkboard that sits right on my kitchen counter. For the month of November, we take turns writing what we are thankful for, whether it is something big or little. And usually something funny from my husband pops up there from time to time.”

Click here to buy a framed chalkboard on Amazon.

Nicole’s Family Thanksgiving Traditions

“Each year, we stamp the kids’ handprints on Thanksgiving table cloths and draw in legs, a beak, and gobbler to make them into turkeys with the year under it. We gave one to each grandparent the first thanksgiving and collect them back each year to add this year’s handprint turkey. As more of our siblings have kids, we pass around the table cloth each November for the kids to add their handprints to. On Thanksgiving, we place it on the dinner table and we see how much the kids have grown and our family has expanded.

Our second tradition is similar to every else’s. We add something we are thankful for to a scroll of butcher paper. I roll it up each day to hide how long it’s getting. During Thanksgiving breakfast, we unroll the butcher paper across the table and read our huge scroll as we eat breakfast!”

Annie’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“Each of us writes a list of the things they are and were thankful for over the last year. We have been making our lists and discussing them during our Thanksgiving feast every year! We actually have a binder of all the lists from past years to be able to look back at all our blessings. And now it’s even more exciting to write the thankful lists with my kids… sometimes they come up with the most hilarious things to be thankful for, small things that I would never even think of, immensely profound things, and sometimes they say things that I’m so glad I have written down and will warm my heart forever.”

Charlotte’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“This year, we are trying a project I saw on the Instagram account @busytoddler. We are making a thankful turkey. I made a brown paper turkey body. Every day (or whenever we remember) we write one thing we are grateful for on a construction paper feather and add it to make the turkey’s tail. By Thanksgiving, it will have a full tail and we will have reminders of big and little things that make us grateful.”

Katie’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“After we eat, we all sit together and watch the same Thanksgiving episode of an old 90’s sitcom (anyone remember “Mad About You”?)”

Jamie’s Family Thanksgiving Tradition

“We always have steak AND turkey, and pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are required for dessert. 😊  Maybe this year I will give the kids freedom to decorate the dining room – anything goes! That could be festive.”

More Family Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas

The following ideas were shared from past members of the Kidlist team. We love them (and their ideas)!

Write things you are thankful for on paper leaves and attach them to a tree in the center of your table. – Claudia

Print out a favorite photo from that year for each person that will sit at your table and place each photo under their plate. Everyone goes around and shares the photo and it turns into a great way to remember special times together that year! – Meghan

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Simply click or tap on the image below and a printable version will load.

Favorite Thanksgiving Books

Head over to your local library to find these books, check with your locally owned bookstore, or order on Amazon by clicking on the titles below.

Thanksgiving Picture Books

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes
At Thanksgiving time, children express their gratitude for the people and things in their lives.

Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinelli
When calamity stalks every step of the preparations for the Tappletons’ Thanksgiving dinner, they realize that there is more to Thanksgiving than turkey and trimmings.

Thanksgiving Day Thanks by Laura Malone Elliott
Sam has trouble deciding what he is grateful for during a Thanksgiving-themed classroom assignment.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Mr. and Mrs. Moose try to invite a turkey to their Thanksgiving feast.

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules
When Tuyet finds out that her Vietnamese family is having duck rather than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, she is upset until she finds out that other children in her class did not eat turkey either.

Beginning Readers and Early Chapter Books

Katie Saves Thanksgiving by Fran Manushkin
When a snowstorm causes the power to go out, Katie and her parents think their Thanksgiving dinner with JoJo and Pedro is ruined, but by being a good neighbor, Katie saves the day.

Trucksgiving by Jon Scieszka
The trucks of Trucktown create their own annual day of giving thanks.

Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey by Herman Parish
When Amelia Bedelia volunteers to fill in as director of a third-grade Thanksgiving play, she misunderstands everything from one girl’s desire to play a big role to an opening night wish that she “break a leg,” but all is well in the end.

Picture Books about Being Thankful

We Are Grateful: Ostaliheliga by Traci Sorell
Cherokee poet Traci Sorell celebrates traditions of gratitude in this beautifully illustrated book.

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
Bear thanks his friends for bringing food dishes to his dinner party and finds a way of sharing something of his own.

Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes
Thankfulness shines through these poems with beautiful illustrations.

Splat Says Thank You by Rob Scotton
Splat the Cat figures out how to let Seymour know that he’s thankful for their friendship.

The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
Easy-to-read text encourages the reader to find something every day for which to be thankful, from underwear that is just the right size to birthday cakes and the wishes they bring.

The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
While learning the secret to a good life, a child says thank you for the natural world and for being loved, because a grateful heart is always happy.

Thank You, World by Alice McGinty
Eight children from eight different countries express their thanks for many special things including the sun that colors the sky, breezes that lift kites, clouds that paint cotton pictures and send rain, and sparkling stars that “shine like Mommy’s eyes.”

This article contains Amazon affiliate links, which means the cost is the same to you but Kidlist receives a small fee from Amazon. Your support is appreciated!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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