Traveling with kids for Thanksgiving? Every parent has a few tricks up her sleeve to survive these long car rides, from snacks to special toys to electronic devices and more. It’s tempting to let the kids watch movies or zone out in front of an iPad for the whole drive, but driving time can also be a time for play and a time to connect as a family.
You may have played some of the classic car games before, but here are a few you may not have tried with a Thanksgiving theme to get the whole family in the spirit.
Please Pass the Story
This one is as much a chance to use creativity and imagination as it is a game. The “rules” are simple. One person starts telling a story. He can tell however much or little of the story he wants. When he stops his part, the next person picks up telling the same story where he left off until someone gets to the end.
Have older kids that would appreciate an extra challenge? Bring along a deck of flash cards with random words or pictures on them (you can often find these at dollar stores), and have each participant draw a card. On their turn they must incorporate whatever card they drew into the story.
To make this story-telling game especially appropriate for Thanksgiving, use one of these story prompts to get started:
1. Tom Turkey trotted along the fence, looking for a way to escape the farm. Thanksgiving was coming, and he didn’t want to become dinner! If only he could find that secret map Peter Pig had told him about—the one that would lead him to a place where turkeys ran free and ate all the acorns, berries, and grasshoppers their hearts desired.
2. Mindy Mouse scampered underneath the dining room table, dodging feet that might step on her. It was a dangerous game, but hopefully someone would drop a few crumbs, and she could bring her own Thanksgiving feast back to her mouse family. She had to be quick before Chester the cat came out to play…
3. Jacob sat at the kids’ table in the kitchen, wishing he could be with the grown-ups. They were all talking and laughing in the dining room. Instead he was stuck with his little sister and their cousin, who was eating more boogers than turkey as far as he could tell. Suddenly Jacob noticed through the kitchen window a bright light coming down from the sky. It looked like a shooting star that got bigger and bigger and bigger, until finally something landed in his backyard.
This card game involves a bit of prep work, which can be done before the trip or in the car by an older child or adult. You’ll need to create a deck of cards out of index cards or scraps of paper. Each card should have a category of things on it (i.e. something you use to cook). To play the game, choose a letter. Have one person draw the card and read the category. The first person who can name an item that starts with the appropriate letter and fits the category wins a point. Whoever scores the most points when you end the game wins!
You can write any categories you want on your cards, but here are a few Thanksgiving-themed ideas to incorporate into your deck:
- A person you’re thankful for
- An activity you’re thankful for
- A possession you’re thankful for
- Someone in your family
- Something you use to cook
- A flavor of pie
- Something on the Thanksgiving table
- Some place you’ve traveled in the last year
- A movie you’ve seen in the last year
- Something about the weather
- NFL football teams or cities
Can You Keep a Straight Face?
Looking for a silly game to get the giggles out in the car? In this game one person is chosen to be “it.” Her job is to keep a straight face while everyone asks her questions. The catch is, she has to answer every question with the same answer. Choose what the answer is going to be before you start. It could be something generic, like “my shoes” or “peanut butter,” or it can have a Thanksgiving theme, like “mashed potatoes and gravy” to “a turkey’s wattle.” Players take turns asking any questions they want:
- What do you brush your teeth with?
- What do you wear when it’s cold out?
- What’s your favorite toy?
- What’s your favorite thing to get in the mail?
Whoever gets the person who is “it” to laugh scores a point and becomes the next “it.”
Looking for more ideas for the car?
Our Mystery Stuff Game is another fun, portable activity for the car. And don’t forget to check out our Thanksgiving Stuffing Game before you leave town. For more tips to pass the time without losing your sanity, see: 5 Ways Experienced Parents Survive Road Trips with Kids.