Thanksgiving Chore Tree

Big get-togethers like Thanksgiving mean big messes, and lots of work for the host and hostess. Why not make the clean up easier this year by getting the whole family involved? Using your holiday chore tree, let each guest pull one leaf from the tree. Each leaf has an assigned task, so not only will your table and kitchen be back to normal in record time, but everyone will get a chance to participate, mingle, and help!

Age
School-age, Tween, Teen, Adult, Senior
Number of Players
5 to 10, 10 to 20, 20+, As many as you can handle!
Prep Time
20 minutes or more
Activity Length
30 - 60 minutes
Difficulty
Easy peasy (fun and simple)
Indoor/Outdoor
Either
Space Needed
Small (a clearable open space the size of a 1-car garage), Medium (a clearable open space the size of a 2-car garage), Large (gym, outdoor field, reception hall)
Noise Level
Semi-rambunctious
Mess Factor
Clean and tidy
Supplies
  • One chore chart tree
  • Large piece of cardboard or poster board
  • Paint, crayons, or markers
  • Construction paper
  • Leaves (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Glue dots, tape, or self-sticking Velcro tabs
  • List of chores
Setup

1. Make your tree ahead of time. I suggest upwards of a week ahead of time so that you can continue to add "chores" as you think of them.
2. Sit down with the family and come up with a list of chores that will need to be done (see "Variations" for suggested chores). Divide the chores into age appropriate categories (i.e., don't ask the 10 and unders to wash the fine china!).
3. On your large piece of poster board, draw or paint a tree trunk with many branches. Leave the branches bare.
4. For the leaves, either cut out leaves from construction paper (see our template for simple leaves) or make our fabulous leaf rubbings. Assign a color to each age group (e.g., chores for ages 6 to 10 are red, chores for 11 to 16 are orange, chores for 16 and up are yellow, chores for elderly folks are green).
5. On the back of one of the appropriately-colored leaves, write one item from your chore chart. Continue to do this until all the chores have been assigned to a leaf.
6. Attach your leaves to the tree base with either tape, glue dots, or double-sided, sticky Velcro tabs.
7. Display your tree for all to see.

How to Play

1. When dinner is winding down, but before anyone has been excused, present the chore tree to your guests.
2. Explain that everyone gets to choose an age-appropriate leaf, that each leaf will have a chore written on the back, and that whatever leaf they choose is the chore that they are assigned that evening.
3. Explain that some chores will need to follow other chores; that is, you'll want to sweep up after all the dishes have been done. But everyone is still responsible for their one chore.
4. It's up to you if you allow guests to trade leaves, but no one should do more than one leaf chore. The idea is to spread out the chores and have everyone participate.

Variations

1. If you are worried about certain tasks (such as putting dishes away) you can feel free to assign certain tasks to certain people by simply writing that person's name on the front of their leaf.
2. Suggestions for age-appropriate tasks:6 to 10: collect and take out all recycling, clear the table of any linen napkins, gather garbage, walk any pets11 to 16: babysit any younger children (you may want more than one on this) during chore time, clear table of plates/utensils/platters/and glassware, take out the garbage, sweep up dining area, sweep up kitchen area16 and up: wash dishes, dry dishes, put dishes away, store all leftovers (or if you are making "doggy bags," divide up leftovers), wipe down counters

Tips

1. You may want to assign one person to oversee all the tasks, and help make sure that guests aren't in one another's way. That person should have a list of the tasks and check them off one by one in the order they need to be done. That person can then guide the others by telling them when it's time to do their chore.