Things to Do During Thanksgiving Week, Ideas for Family Traditions, Easy Prepared Food, and More

Do your kids have the week off school for Thanksgiving? Our kids will be home for the entire week and I’m trying to brainstorm ideas for what we are going to do. So (no joke) I look through Kidlist! I would like to take a walk through the forest preserve with everyone because we haven’t done that in a while and there are tons of ideas in the list below that I’m excited about.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s something about getting together when the air is crisp to talk about what we are thankful for over the past year and eat a wonderful meal together that warms my heart. We put together some fun ideas for traditions your family can try, along with great books about being thankful, how to explain the meaning of Thanksgiving to your kids, and where you can find easy prepared foods locally to take the stress out of the meal. This one is jam packed!

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Click on the image below for the full version and print it out to fill out the gratitude scavenger hunt with your kids! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @kidlist #mykidlist to share your adventures and photos. We love to see what our Kidlist friends are up to!

Local Things to Do the Week of Thanksgiving 2019

Calls from Santa (Tinley Park)
November 25, 2019

Photos with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 25, 2019

Photos With Santa (Lombard)
November 25, 2019

Santa’s Wonderland (Bolingbrook)
November 25, 2019

Frozen 2 Camp at BIG Gymnastics (Burr Ridge)
November 25, 2019, 9:00am – 12:00pm

Art Games (Oak Park)
November 25, 2019, 10:30am – 4:30pm

Shadow Puppet Story-Times (Oak Park)
November 25, 2019, 11:00am – 11:30am

Festival of Lights Light Show (Bolingbrook)
November 25, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Pet Pictures with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 25, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art Illinois Resident Free Day (Chicago)
November 26, 2019

Calls from Santa (Tinley Park)
November 26, 2019

Brookfield Zoo Free Admission Day (Brookfield)
November 26, 2019

Photos with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 26, 2019

Photos With Santa (Lombard)
November 26, 2019

Santa’s Wonderland (Bolingbrook)
November 26, 2019

Frozen 2 Camp at BIG Gymnastics (Burr Ridge)
November 26, 2019, 9:00am – 12:00pm

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 50 (Naperville)
November 26, 2019, 10:30am – 11:15am

Chicago History Museum Illinois Resident Free Day (Chicago)
November 26, 2019, 12:30pm – 9:00pm

Illumination: Tree Lights (Lisle)
November 26, 2019, 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Festival of Lights Light Show (Bolingbrook)
November 26, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Pet Pictures with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 26, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Turkey Bingo (Brookfield)
November 26, 2019, 6:30pm – 7:15pm

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Photos with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 27, 2019

Photos With Santa (Lombard)
November 27, 2019

Santa’s Wonderland (Bolingbrook)
November 27, 2019

Friendsgiving Party (Bolingbrook)
November 27, 2019, 9:30am – 12:30pm

Makerspace Days (Batavia)
November 27, 2019, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Drop-in Thanksgiving Craft (Downers Grove)
November 27, 2019, 10:00am – 4:00pm

LEGO My Eggo (Darien)
November 27, 2019, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Storytime and Activities (various locations)
November 27, 2019, 10:30am

Arbor Reading Adventures (Lisle)
November 27, 2019, 11:00am – 11:45am

Storytime at Anderson’s (Naperville)
November 27, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Storytime at Anderson’s (Downers Grove)
November 27, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Storytime at Anderson’s (La Grange)
November 27, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Mindfulness and More (Oak Park)
November 27, 2019, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Illumination: Tree Lights (Lisle)
November 27, 2019, 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Festival of Lights Light Show (Bolingbrook)
November 27, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Pet Pictures with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 27, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Middle School Movie Night (Bloomingdale)
November 27, 2019, 6:00pm – 8:45pm

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Illinois Resident Donation Day (Chicago)
November 28, 2019

Brookfield Zoo Free Admission Day (Brookfield)
November 28, 2019

Photos With Santa (Lombard)
November 28, 2019

Santa’s Wonderland (Bolingbrook)
November 28, 2019

Turkey Trot (Glen Ellyn)
November 28, 2019, 8:00am – 10:30am

Turkey Trot 5 Mile Predicto Race (Glen Ellyn)
November 28, 2019, 8:00am

Bonfield Express 5K (Downers Grove)
November 28, 2019, 8:30am – 9:30am

Textiles and Fabrics (Oak Park)
November 28, 2019, 10:30am – 4:30pm

SciTech Storytime (Aurora)
November 28, 2019, 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Sewing Workshops (Oak Park)
November 28, 2019, 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Grade School Guided STEM Time (Downers Grove)
November 28, 2019, 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Festival of Lights Light Show (Bolingbrook)
November 28, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Pet Pictures with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 28, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Writing Club for Kids (Homewood)
November 28, 2019, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Festival of Lights and Tree Sales (Wheaton)
November 29, 2019, 9:00am – 9:00pm

Friday, November 29, 2019

One Day Camps (Naperville)
November 29, 2019, 9:00am – 12:00pm

Kiddo Concerts with Sarah Jayne Lane (Wheaton)
November 29, 2019, 9:30am

Archery: Families (Warrenville)
November 29, 2019, 10:00am – 11:30am

Family Movie Night (Downers Grove)
November 29, 2019, 10:00am – 11:30am

Nature and Science and Art (Oak Park)
November 29, 2019, 10:30am – 4:30pm

Black Friday Family Hike (Lisle)
November 29, 2019, 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Storytime with the Gingerbread Librarians (Downers Grove)
November 29, 2019, 3:45pm – 4:15pm

Illumination: Tree Lights (Lisle)
November 29, 2019, 4:30pm – 8:30pm

ZooLights (Chicago)
November 29, 2019, 4:30pm – 9:00pm

Tree Lighting Ceremony (Downers Grove)
November 29, 2019, 4:30pm

Festival of Lights Light Show (Bolingbrook)
November 29, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Holiday Lights (Mooseheart)
November 29, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Pet Pictures with Santa at Village Green (Oak Brook)
November 29, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Festival of Lights (Aurora)
November 29, 2019, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Reindeer Run (Brookfield)
November 29, 2019, 5:30pm – 9:30pm

Village Tree Lighting Ceremony (Willowbrook)
November 29, 2019, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Holiday Walk (Glen Ellyn)
November 29, 2019, 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Caroling at Cloud Gate (Chicago)
November 29, 2019, 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Ginger-neering Workshop (Aurora)
November 29, 2019, 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Living Wheaton Christmas Parade (Wheaton)
November 29, 2019, 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Little Friends Holiday Parade of Lights (Naperville)
November 29, 2019, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Ideas for Thanksgiving Traditions

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. On 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”?)”

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

Spend the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving at a downtown hotel with family so you can wake up, have a fabulous breakfast, and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade before traveling back to the suburbs. – 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

Meet at a local grade school and play a Turkey Bowl with your extended family. It’s a great way to get outside before the big meal. – Meghan

Family Thanksgiving traditions can bring so much joy to your family celebration. We hope that these have inspired you to adopt some traditions of your own! Do you do something special or memorable each year? We would love to hear about it! Comment below or email me at and I would love to add it to our list!

How to Explain “How Thanksgiving Began” to Your Kids

I’m not a history buff and never really was, so when my kids asked me how Thanksgiving began I really didn’t know what to tell them. I vaguely knew the story but you know how kids love to ask questions about everything and I didn’t feel prepared! I ended up finding a couple videos and a link that I thought were pretty good; I thought you might find yourself in the same situation and would think these were useful.

The first is a great factual video about how Thanksgiving started. It’s fairly straightforward and to the point which I appreciated.

And here’s a link with a short list of fun thanksgiving facts for kids:

PS. I know that hand turkeys are super common projects for kids around Thanksgiving, but I recently saw in a craft book to use your child’s feet as the turkey’s body and the hands as the feathers. I thought that was pretty clever because then the sizes of the turkeys are determined by the size of your children!

Favorite Thanksgiving Books

Head over to your local library to find these books or order them 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.

Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman
Young Percy Isaac Gifford provides a list of ten rules for getting the most out of Thanksgiving Day, especially how best to enjoy the buffet.

The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing
Tells the story of one family’s Thanksgiving Day celebration.

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.

Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osborne
Jack and Annie travel in their magic tree house to the year 1621, where they celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in the New Plymouth Colony. Also check out
Pilgrims: A Nonfiction Companion to Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne.

Nonfiction Picture Books

The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross
From the dangerous voyage across the Atlantic to the first harsh winter to the delicious Thanksgiving feast, all the excitement and wonder of the Pilgrims’ first year in America is captured in this retelling that is perfect for the youngest historians.

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet
Award-winning artist Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America–the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Sarah Gives Thanks by Mike Allegra
The story of the writer and magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who pushed the idea of establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Thanksgiving is… by Gail Gibbons
An introduction to the history and customs of Thanksgiving.

Picture Books about Being Thankful

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.

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.”

Easy Prepared Food for Thanksgiving

The holidays can be a stressful time, especially for parents that don’t have enough time to cook, don’t enjoy it or just feel overwhelmed by the thought. Thankfully there are a lot of options for prepared food for Thanksgiving! Click on the store name to be taken to the Thanksgiving menu or in some cases the main website for more information.

Whole Foods Market (various locations)
Everything from the classic Thanksgiving dinner and supper options, vegetarian, vegan, unexpected food choices and a small gathering menu. Click on each category to see the choices along with photographs.

Casey’s Meat Market (Western Springs)
You can find everything from different types of turkeys to various side dishes. The order deadline is Friday November 22, 2019.

Mike’s Meat Market (Villa Park)
You can find everything from different types of turkeys to various side dishes. The order deadline is Friday November 22, 2019.

Standard Market (Westmont)
They feature fresh, never frozen, turkeys from Plainville Farms that are all-natural, antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed, and humanely raised. The Market also has chef-made side dishes, delicious appetizer and party trays, made-from-scratch baked goods and desserts.

The Dinner Club (La Grange)
There are nine sides available on their holiday menu, along with additional sides and desserts on their seasonal menu. Their pre-assembled sides are available ala carte after November 16, 2019.

Trader Joes (various locations)
No pre-order meals are available, however they have several prepared sides that you can pick up. Check your local store for options.

Heard of other easy main, side, or dessert options for Thanksgiving? Comment below! We would love to add other suggestions.

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!

About the Author

Annie Tandy
Annie loves making great memories with her kids and started Kidlist in 2011 so she can help others do the same! Besides finding fun and exciting things to do, Annie, her husband, and their kids enjoy caring for their chickens and hanging out with them in the backyard. Click here to read about Annie's chickens and see pictures! She also finds joy in gardening, home improvement projects, knitting, soap making, and painting along with being active in her community, church, and as a board member of the Western Springs Business Association. Click here to follow Annie on Instagram.

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