Planning on taking a Thanksgiving camping trip to observe this special holiday? Beyond the meal, these unique Thanksgiving camping ideas will create a grateful atmosphere at your holiday celebration in the great outdoors with fun activities and festive campsite decorations.
In This Post:
Fun Ideas For Your Thanksgiving Camping Weekend
There are so many ways to turn a regular camping trip into a festive holiday event.
Thanksgiving Table Settings
One way to bring the holiday feel to your entire weekend is through your table settings for every one of your camping meals, not just for the big Thanksgiving meal. The easiest way to do this is with a fall color scheme and disposable tablecloths, plates, bowls, cups and utensils. Here are a few ideas:
Decorative Settings For Picnic Tables
You can buy an entire set for your table settings including the tablecloth, cups, plates and napkins!
Did you know you can get biodegradable forks, knives and spoons? Their natural color works well with Thanksgiving-themed decorations. Placing your silverware in holders adds a fun decorative look to your table.
Thanksgiving Decorations For Your Campsite
You don’t want to bring a moving van to your campsite to decorate for the holiday! The easiest way to add a Thanksgiving feel to your campsite is by tweaking your normal gear with simple touches. Here are a few ideas:
Lights are an easy way to add a warm holiday glow to your campsite after dark. If you want to use solar lights, make sure you have enough hours of sunlight to power them. Remember the days are shorter and sunlight is scarcer in November!
Door Covers Make A Big Impact
If you are camping in an RV, placing a decorative cover over your door will add a big splash of holiday cheer in just a few seconds! You can get inexpensive party accessories, or, use door covers that are available in higher quality fabric reusable styles.
Balloons & Flags
Balloons and flags are the perfect Thanksgiving campsite decorations because they are small and lightweight for transporting. Balloons create a big statement after you blow them up at the campsite! They can be hung from trees, awnings, tents and RVs. Camping flags and banner flags are a great way to mark your campsite with a bit of personality. Get some that reflect the spirit of the holiday.
Many of your Thanksgiving decorations can be made right at your campsite with these easy arts and crafts projects that are fun activities for kids and adults.
Our family has camped several times over this special holiday and enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Our typical camping Thanksgiving recipes include:
- Main dish: A small RV oven can’t handle a whole turkey so why bother trying? My whole turkey breast cooks in a slightly modified Smokey Joe charcoal grill. If you’re car camping without much room for cold food storage, you may want to consider roasting a boneless turkey breast.
- Gravy that is made on a propane camp stove or in a cast iron skillet over a campfire.
- Sausage Dressing that is made in a cast iron camp Dutch oven.
- Cranberry Sauce that is prepared using a propane camp stove.
- Spiced Sweet Potatoes that are cooked in tin foil packets over a campfire. This is a great alternative to a sweet potato casserole.
- Spinach Salad that is mostly no-cook (although we do toast the almonds in a skillet.)
- Upper Crust Apple Pie that is baked in a cast iron camp Dutch oven. At home our Thanksgiving dessert usually includes pumpkin pie, but, I really like this easy recipe for Thanksgiving day in the great outdoors.
- Apple Cider that is heated over a cooking fire on a campfire grate or using a propane camp stove. And, of course, don’t forget the hot chocolate for your family members who can’t get enough chocolate during this time of year.
Each recipe has a different cook time so it can be a little tricky preparing a Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the trimmings in the great outdoors. Whatever you do, DON’T let the big meal stress you out! I actually think it is easier to prepare the feast while camp cooking outdoors because there are so many options for cooking.
It is like having a huge commercial kitchen when you can have over-fire cooking, Dutch ovens baking, camp stoves simmering, camp grills charring, campfire foil packets steaming and propane fryers frying … ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
We’ve got tips to manage cooking times so your side dishes are done at the same time as your turkey!
Cute holiday-themed food is not only yummy to eat but it also “decorates for the holiday” too!
Decorated sugar cookies are the cutest food items you can add to your table!
- You can bake sugar cookies at home and decorate them at the campsite.
- Who doesn’t love Oreo cookies? Especially when they are covered in chocolate and adorned with a cute turkey!
- Purchase already-decorated holiday sugar cookies.
Roasted Almond Paste is made into fruit-shaped candies for a delicious sweet holiday treat.
Cupcake Wrappers & Toppers
You can do so much with cupcakes! Decorate them with Thanksgiving-themed wrappers or top with with cute picks. Adorable cupcake toppers also make great picks for finger food like fruit and cheese trays.
Create Unique Experiences When Camping During Thanksgiving
It can get chilly so make sure you have enough wood to keep your fire going in cold weather. Check out our tips to help you answer the question: How much firewood do I need for camping?
Participating in thought-provoking activities, creative crafts and competitive games bring a celebratory feel to a holiday camp trip. Here are a few ideas:
Playing games that ask questions that help you reflect on the season are fun and inspirational. Campers can ponder on thoughts about their favorite family gatherings, best holiday memories, favorite Thanksgiving foods and even making a new tradition or two with a personalized game. Or, if you are feeling really creative, you can add your own questions to a dry erase spinner wheel.
Photo Booths & Traditional Games
Thanksgiving Photo Booth Props KitBig Dot of Happiness Happy ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving Bingo Cards and MarkersBig Dot of Happiness Happy Thanksgiving – Bingo Cards and Markers – Fall Harvest Party Bingo Game – Set of 18
Photo booths are a fun way to capture memories of your camping holiday. There are tons of fun camping games you can play on your holiday trip. Also, traditional party games with a holiday theme are perfect for camping over Thanksgiving!
Games To Get You Moving
If you are feeling like you need to work off a bit of your meal, play a few active camp games that get you out of the chair!
Best Places To Camp For Thanksgiving
Determining where you will be camping on Thanksgiving is a very personal choice. Whether you are RV or tent camping, there is a place that is a perfect fit for you.
- If you don’t feel like cooking, many National Parks have restaurants that serve Thanksgiving dinner.
- Some RV parks and campgrounds offer pot-luck dinner events. This is an ideal way to feed a lot of people, and, it’s a good idea when you have limited space in your refrigerator, on your camper’s counter space and on your RV stove and in its oven.
- If you’re staying at an RV park that doesn’t have something like this and you don’t want to prepare an entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself, a great option is to make reservations at one of the local restaurants offering a traditional turkey dinner during the Thanksgiving week.
- Lots of State Parks have events centered on the holiday.
Personally, our family likes to be quite a distance from other campers as a courtesy to them … our self-imposed nickname is “The Loud Family” and you will definitely know it when we get into a competitive game of cornhole! For that reason, we usually prefer camping in National Forests.
Before you ever leave home, you’ll want to do a little extra planning for this special camping holiday. Each helpful tip on our list will help you design the perfect trip … with the help of a few FREE printable checklists!
FREE Printable Trip Planner
Make your next trip stress-free with a little pre-planning. Get your copy of our FREE printable camping trip planner template!
Get More Recipe Ideas
In addition to your big holiday meal, make easy and awesome food for the rest of your trip,