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The Best Thing to Do After Thanksgiving Dinner

Vintage Thanksgiving Dinner

Do you have any funny holiday traditions? My aunt Rosie has a trick that always lightens the mood…

Pictionary! “It’s good to play when the kids start getting on your nerves,” she told me. “Once they start drawing, you kind of fall back in love with them.”

Every year, when the kids bring out the game, there’s an unanimous “nope” from the adults. But, every year, the kids start playing without them — and once the game starts rolling, without fail, every family member ends up joining in and LOVING it.

Suddenly, five-year-olds are pitted against 80-year-old grandmas, and dads are chanting out answers like, “Levitating babysitter,” so seriously you would have thought the world was ending. The entire house explodes with shrieks — even from the uncle who had dozed off on the couch only minutes before. It’s dorky, hilarious and possibly the only tactic that has ever worked on my uniting my family.

For those who have never played Pictionary, here’s how it works: A teammate chooses a card with a specific word or phrase and then draws the image while fellow teammates guess what it is. For us, the game is most successful if we play on an easel, so everyone can see. And for really little kids, we make sure the words on the cards aren’t too complicated before it’s their turn.

“It’s also funny to look back at the stressed-out drawings left in the box from previous games,” Rosie told me. “You’re like, ‘What the hell is that? Why is there a clock with only eight hours on it?'”

So, if your Thanksgiving needs a laugh, try playing a game to chill everyone out. Straight-up charades is always fun, too, or Heads Up! (which you can play with your phones) and, of course, classic ol’ Catch Phrase.

What are your post-dinner rituals on Thanksgiving? A movie? Football? A cozy nap on the sofa?

P.S. Three funny Thanksgiving rules, and conversation starters that work every time.

  1. Colleen says...

    We play charades! It is Hysterical and good for all ages. Nothing better than settling in the living room around the fire and laughing hysterically with everyone.

  2. Cindy says...

    We had the children in my family put on a talent show after dinner this last Thanksgiving. It was so fun! an unforgettable Thanksgiving!

  3. Fiona says...

    Our hands-down favorite is one called Telestrations (telephone but with illustrations – one person writes the clue, the next person has to draw it, the third person tries to guess the drawing, the fourth person draws their guess etc.). Particularly hilarious when littles have difficulty with spelling, and someone has to guess :) Our favorite this year started with Mascara and ended up with Edward Scissorhands – although the one that made it all the way round accurately depicted was inevitably “POOP”!

    • Kelly Maloney says...

      This is hands-down our favorite too! We always called it pictionary-telephone but I love telestrations!

    • Kate says...

      Love that game! There is a fun version for adults – Telestrations After Dark – that’s super fun to play after having a few cocktails.

  4. Jamie says...

    We’re playing a game called Quiplash on Jackbox.tv – so fun! And you can write your own questions to involve the whole family!

  5. This sounds like so much fun! We used to all play together a few years back, but it would be so fun to resurrect the game. My mom still hangs a hilarious drawing that lost them the game: Vandermoort (Voldemort’s Dutch cousin)

  6. Taylor says...

    Have you peeked in on my family Thanksgiving! We played Pictionary every year and on an easel. Though, we usually separate into guys vs gals and it can get pretty competitive, especially on the ‘all play’ with who shouted the answer first if it’s an ‘easy’ one. Another tip: we draw an ear for ‘sounds like’; so you could do an ear : then draw a beer or pear if you’re trying to get them to guess something difficult like ‘dare’. Love this post as it brings back so many memories!

  7. Laura Petersen says...

    Except the one year my grandma and cousins cheated! Now we just talk and watch football maybe even play cards ♥️

  8. Sara says...

    We used to play Scrabble! When I was little my aunt would be my partner and we’d put down as many “potty words” as we could! God bless her. As I got older my sister and I got really good and my uncle stopped the tradition because he was tired of losing. Lame. ;)

  9. Georgia says...

    We played catch phrase together last Christmas and it was SO fun! We had grown children and our parents acting out the MOST ridiculous scenarios when we did the charades card. Using the feature that films the crazy things everyone is doing makes it extra fun and hilarious :))

  10. Eliza says...

    I also love Pictionary and Telestrations! Immediately after a holiday dinner is done we play the card game “99” and whoever loses a round starts the dishes. Then we keep playing and the next person to lose trades back in with the last person, and so forth – and the dishes eventually get done. It’s fun and no one feels too bad doing the dishes because usually it doesn’t last too long per round, and almost everyone has to take a turn – it’s a good way to rope in someone who’s always trying to sneak out of helping. Kids too young to do quick math can be on a team with a grown up to play and help with the dishes (grown ups with bad quick-math skills like myself just rely on other grown ups to do the addition or subtraction! haha)

  11. Catherine says...

    Golf ball hunting! We walk a local golf course and search for the golf balls that people have left behind. We’ve done it in snow and we’ve done it in 70 degree weather (and dodged the golfers). When my husband told me about his family tradition I thought it was crazy. But, it’s a great way to get out of the house, get fresh air, and get moving. And, just about anyone can do it. You would be amazed how many golf balls you can find. One year we found 600!

  12. Hilde says...

    I love a good game of pictionary, but have you tried telestrations? It’s amazing, like a mix between pictionary and chinese whispers. One person draws a word, the next guesses, the third draws, the next guesses and so on and so forth until it comes back to the first person. It’s a hit every time we play it, and the worse the artists the better!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we just got it and are going to play tonight!!! can’t wait :)

  13. Paige says...

    Scavenger Hunt for us. I split our family into two teams and send them out for an hour while I prepare dessert. I like the quiet and crafting the list. They run around like mad people and make room for pie.

  14. Alyssa says...

    “While You Were Sleeping” is a movie we always watch Thanksgiving weekend. I love how hard my mom laughs at certain parts even though we have watched this movie so many times! #joefuscojr

  15. Stephanie says...

    Our family goes to a local bowling alley after Thanksgiving. It’s fun for the kids…and all ages really! We started the tradition about five years ago and my son who is four can’t wait every year. My husband’s grandma has a gentleman friend who is 92 and he’s a great bowler and beats everyone. Last year the owner of the bowling alley gave my son a bowling pin and we all signed it. It’s good to get up and get moving after a big meal and make memories.

  16. Sierra says...

    I never had a family to play Pictionary with, or to celebrate anything with at all. But I found my husband and he’s taught me how fulfilling a family of two can be. He also taught me how to deep fry a turkey, which is also sort of fulfilling?

    • Sonja says...

      This is so sweet. What a beautiful display of gratitude. And yes to deep fried turkey.

    • Laura C. says...

      Of course sister, you two are a great family! Happy Thanksgiving!

  17. Karin says...

    Thank you for reminding me to get out Pictionary before Thanksgiving! My extended family has had hilarious times playing this. My Dad and I still recall the time years ago when he very carefully drew one curved line and I screamed “BANANA” and it was right! Everyone from 8 to 88 really can play this game together. Even my sullen teenage niece and nephew light up when we play it.

  18. Laura says...

    That little girl in the top photo is cracking me up!

  19. Stacy says...

    I love pictionary and charades and taboo and always wondered why we didn’t play them with my family growing up. Only a few years ago as an adult–while trying to get my dad to play with my brother and our significant others–did it occur to me why: my father is an immigrant and doesn’t know most of the cultural references and ease with the English language that most of these games depend on! He just couldn’t keep up or participate meaningfully.
    Our Thanksgiving crowd is going to include quite a few immigrants, too. Maybe there will be a critical mass so that the entire game will only require shared cultural and linguistic knowledge–or, because the crowd is *so* diverse, maybe we can all laugh at and appreciate how very different our contexts and cultural backgrounds are.

    • Rummikub is a good game that doesn’t rely on language. It sounds boring if I try to explain it (if you aren’t familiar with it) but it is lots of fun!

    • Alyssa says...

      Signs is a great party game for people of any language because you don’t need any words! Just hand motions! We recently visited friends in Brazil, and played this game at their big family reunion. We don’t speak Portuguese, and only a few spoke English, but we played this game for hours each night. How sweet is the universal “language” of hysterical laughter? http://www.group-games.com/stationary-games/signs-game.html

    • Anon says...

      Dobble and Dixit are both great games which can be played bilingually!

    • Kate says...

      Try Uno instead! No cultural references or language skills required. I’ve also found apples to apples is good for the immigrant crowd

  20. jeannie says...

    Pictionary is one of my favorite games, but I haven’t played it for decades!!! What a great reminder to start playing it again!

  21. LT says...

    Have you ever played ‘You Don’t Say’? My boyfriend’s family always plays it at Holidays and I got my entire family on to it. It’s very hard to find in stores and online, but I would highly recommend for all ages! If you ever see it on your travels it’s definitely worth picking up!
    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/186011/you-dont-say

  22. Ha! Pictionary after supper was one of our favourite holiday traditions as well… One of my favourite memories of my now passed Grandmother was when she was guessing one of our drawings. “A Cow? A Dog? A horse? A striped horse?” It was a Zebra, and she never got the answer, Striped Horse was the best she could do. We teased her for years about it.
    I love that that game unites all ages. I only wish that the great grandkids could have played dictionary with their great Grandmother.

    • KylieO says...

      I laughed out loud at this! What a great, funny memory!

  23. C says...

    Yes, Scattergories and Pictionary! I have big extended family and we would play on teams when I was a child. People got very competitive and cheating was rampant. My oldest uncle would the “judge” and would award half points and quarter points for answers he liked. It was so much fun–a great way for the generations to enjoy themselves together!

  24. Sasha says...

    Our family loves Catch Phrase, it gets so silly and fun. Thanks for the reminder! We probably need new batteries for it.

    • Leanne says...

      My first introduction to Catch Phrase was being stuck in a maternity waiting room while we waited for our niece and nephew to be born. Another family had packed an elaborate picnic with great snacks and Catch Phrase to pass the time. By the end of the afternoon they had half the waiting room playing with them. Those strangers are serious #familygoals.

  25. In my family we have a bunch of old-school parlor games that we’d always play. Whenever we had a newcomer, it would be a sort of initiation ritual for them to see if they could figure out the tricks of the games. Loads of fun (though probably mostly inside jokes!)

    Wow. I haven’t thought about those for awhile as I haven’t been with my entire family on Thanksgiving for years! This being my first year abroad, I’m flying solo so getting nostalgic reading posts like these :)

  26. Bean's Mom says...

    There’s also Pictionary Jr. with separate cards for kids and adults for when you all play together!

  27. nas says...

    WE DO THIS! hahaha. So cool. We play pictionary with a card deck from the 80s, which makes it SO funny, especially when you’ve got a teenager against someone in their 50s. My extended family is a decent size, and to be very honest, they are not my favorite type of human beings (in and out of jail for bad stuff…we have to lock our purses away…, neglectful parents, jealous, spiteful… list goes on), so I really don’t enjoy spending the holidays with them. But Pictionary makes it bearable. Takes us away from all of the drama and issues for a little while and gives us the opportunity to laugh together and work as a team.

  28. Kimmy S says...

    Yes, I second this! My husband and I are hooked on Pictionary and we love playing it with extended family! Our families are so different (one from liberal Chicago and one from the conservative South) but everybody loves Pictionary. We have a huge whiteboard and an arsenal of markers dedicated to Pictionary tournaments.

  29. Kelly says...

    We’ve started a tradition of watching old family videos

  30. t says...

    Oh my gosh one year after the little kids went to bed the adults played cards against humanity. We nearly died of laughter. My father made a declaration that he failed as a parent because my sister knew every urban dictionary term but asked what ‘serfdom’ meant and I ended up having to explain bukaki to my grandmother (if you don’t know you are better off)!

  31. Liza says...

    After Christmas we always play Cards Against Humanity. It’s hilarious watching the teenagers hold back because they’re around their parents and grandparents until the octogenarians start winning with their inappropriate and hysterical answers which ups the ante. There are always hilarious discussions about what some of the cards mean like when my aunt asked what a golden shower is. “It’s when it is raining but the sun is shining, right?” No, Aunt Lucy, no.

    • Ang says...

      Same!! Or we get into crazy competitive poker/scat games where we talk more smack than would ever be appropriate.

  32. Diana Tisdale says...

    We often play “the bowl game” everyone writes out 4 names of well known people or characters on slips of paper. The papers all go in a big bowl. There are three rounds. The first round you can say anything but the name on the slip, second round is acting out the name, and the third round is only one word. There are two teams and you alternate between sides. It’s fun to see what people choose to write on the slip and what’s common or not common knowledge between generations. Just like charades people are rolling with laughter and screaming nonsense phrases.

    • This is my ex’s family’s signature game. They called it Fish Bowl, and you could write down anything: phrases, objects, inside jokes. Was always SO much fun (especially when his poor grandmother would inevitably say the word on the card out loud!)

    • Willow says...

      We call it the skiing game-always play with a big mixed group in a chalet on a ski holiday! The game is hilarious-and as the rounds go on, it becomes part memory test too. Also, always love hearing what other people call the game!

    • Alice says...

      Hahaha we call this Celebrity Salad. Last Christmas, when we were all on a massive My Dad Wrote A Porno kick, there ended up being six Belinda Blumenthal’s in there… which was far too funny for words!

    • B says...

      Hahaha we call it ‘Taboo Taboo Charades’ ? LOVE that game! (Also we sometimes do a fourth round where you have to act out the phrase with finger puppets – it’s so so hilarious!)

  33. Gaby says...

    We usually play Loteria, which is like bingo and popular in Latinx cultures. This year I’m going to try to get everyone to watch our new hockey team’s game on tv though :)

  34. Nicole S says...

    For our family it’s Taboo! So fun after a few glasses of wine and especially endearing when people use personal stories and inside jokes as clues.

  35. Liz says...

    Last year we discovered a game called Snake Oil. The basic idea of the game is that you get a set of cards with random words that you choose two from to make your “product.” So, for example, if I chose penguin and fork, I would have to come up with a sales pitch for a penguin fork. Then each person at the table has to try to “sell” their product to another player who chose a “career” card. So I might have to sell my penguin fork to the president. The goal is to get the most people to “buy” your product. I know I’m not doing a great job explaining it, but it’s such a funny game, and just about any age can play.

    • sara says...

      sounds like fun!

  36. Heather says...

    Last year after Thanksgiving, my sister whipped out her phone and we played Ellen’s “Head’s Up” game. All ages had fun and could participate!!

  37. We love to go on a walk, play games, cuddle and watch movies, and just hang around chatting. One year I brought a bunch of coloring pages and markers and all the women sat around the kitchen and colored and chatted and it was the most refreshing afternoon.

  38. MaryMargaret says...

    We make paper crowns and place Table Topics on every table (with a starter card by every plate or water glass) along with a few opened bottles of wine/bubbly/fancy water per table. Having a simple to-do for each guest (easy and fun even if you hate crafting), drinks at the ready, a conversation starter, and then some really cool or awful headgear to wear for the duration puts everyone in a festive mood, gets the party started, and helps keep it going. Plus, I’m convinced that paper crowns are the key to awesome family photos!

  39. Scattergories! It’s just as good and great in teams, too.

  40. We either as a family sign up for the local Turkey Trot (we are doing this year) or play a game of flag football on the alternating years. After Thanskgiving we play board games, last year was Pie Face, and then we take a stroll around the dirt roads looking for moose, bear and fairies! After our stroll its dessert time!

  41. Denise says...

    Our family usually does a big (cold, rainy) hike before dinner and so the meal is even more delicious and feels earned. Plus it helps keep things simple for the food prep which always is a bonus for the kitchen helpers. After dinner we usually play Scrabble and Mom usually wins.

  42. Katie says...

    Catch Phrase is my family’s perennial favorite. But watch out if you’re bringing a new girlfriend or boyfriend — they will be judged based on their catch phrase skills.

  43. Vicki says...

    Aunt Rosie is a genius :)

    By the way, I hope that people are naming their kids Rosie, so that in a few generations there will still be Aunt Rosies hanging around. Aunt Madison doesn’t quite have the same jingle, does it?

    • Kathleen says...

      I have a 4 month old daughter and her name is Rosie. ?

  44. Paige Scalisi says...

    What a wonderful idea! We have played reverse charades too- its so much fun to play and it takes the pressure off from feeling like you need to “perform”.

  45. Summer says...

    Apples to Apples is really fun also!

  46. Erin W says...

    We usually have thanksgiving “dinner” at lunch time, and then at dinnertime we have a turkey sandwich making competition (which I happen to be the reigning champ of :)

    • Adrienne says...

      That is awesome! Love this idea…..may have to try it. We are a big sandwich eating family! Even if we do it the next day.

  47. We play a game similar to Pictionary called “Telestrations,” it’s like a combination of Pictionary and the game telephone. We always end up spending the next few hours laughing hysterically at the things we end up drawing, it’s a lot of fun!

    • Clairellyn says...

      We too play Telestrations-or as we like to call it “Foldy Foldy Draw Draw”

    • Libbie says...

      I love Telestrations, Kristen! We have the “After Dark” version, so I’m not sure if I’ll be bringing to Thanksgiving. :)

    • katieanne says...

      Yes! We call it Telephone Pictionary, and it is a family favorite! Always tons of laughter, all you need is paper and pencils, and great for all ages! (Do I sound like a commercial?!)

    • Diana says...

      We played Telestrations After Dark at our early family Thanksgiving this year while the kids watched a movie. It was hilarious for all involved.

  48. Mandy says...

    Giant Jenga has been a hit recently for my family. You can also get away with having a drink (or two) before hand with dinner. If you knock the tower over it’s just part of the game! ;-)

  49. Krista says...

    When growing up we would go over to my maternal grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving. After the turkey, the board game Risk would come out and uncles, cousins, and aunts would be play well into the night. There’s nothing like a good game of world domination after stuffing yourself full of turkey and pie.

  50. Courtney says...

    We usually go for a walk!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      same! i love when everyone bundles up and we all walk around slowly and lazily.

    • Katie says...

      Last time we went for a walk we all (10 of us) got a little bit lost in this big wooded area in the middle of my family’s neighborhood! We knew if we kept walking we’d be out soon enough, but it turned into a huge dramatic hilarious afternoon of “I see a house!! We’re saved!!” “Only a few more steps….you can make it!” and “You go without me! Save yourself!” We made it out just a couple of blocks from where we meant to be, laughing and ready for leftovers. It’s one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha that is so cute, katie!