I’ve hosted Thanksgiving at my house for the past 5 years or so, and I’ve loved it each time. This may or may not be because I’m a bit of a control freak and I can assign certain dishes to the cook who won’t screw it up; I can arrange flowers exactly how I want them arranged; and no one can tell me cloth napkins aren’t really necessary. They are, and I’m in charge. Having a mess of kids in the house while prepping for Thanksgiving dinner can be tricky, but not a disaster. Take my word for it, along with these suggestions:– Make a list of people coming for dinner and have your child write what they are most thankful for about each guest. For younger children, they can draw a picture and tell you what to write. Display at each guest’s chair – it’ll get some tears rolling, believe me. Print yours here.
– Hand turkeys are a staple at any Thanksgiving table. Set up a craft table in a nearby room with construction paper, kid-friendly scissors, glue sticks, and crayons (no markers, that can go south very quickly). Show kids how to trace their hands and let them glue on feathers, sequins, or buttons for decoration.
– Many children love to help make a space beautiful, and flower arranging is a perfect activity for little hands. The day before the holiday, pre-cut flower stems, strip extra leaves and place them in water. On Thanksgiving day, set out glass containers (mason jars or drinking glasses work), scissors (for older children) and pebbles and show them how to arrange a beautiful vase – pebbles first, flowers next, and maybe some greens.
– Have kids help with dessert – no, not pies. Assign that to your Aunt Tracy (or whoever your delicious-pie-making aunt may be). Kids can make adorable turkeys out of mini peanut butter cups, candy corn, Oreo cookies, Whoppers and frosting. It takes a bit of time for little hands to complete a candy turkey, so this will give you at least an hour uninterrupted.*
– If you have a kids’ table at your Thanksgiving dinner, roll some butcher paper over it and let the kids decorate it. Get kids started with some direction such as: “Draw a picture of the first Thanksgiving” or “How many turkeys can you fit on this table?”
– Dress up leftovers. Since there’s only so much room in the fridge and guests love Thanksgiving leftovers, have kids make some cute packaging to wrap them up at the festivities’ end. Great packaging makes that midnight snack attack just that much better. Craft stores sell brown paper craft bags that are perfect for kids to decorate. Plain white boxes placed inside are a great blank canvas for kids’ artwork. Adding glitter, feathers and lots of colorful touches keeps kids occupied for longer than you might think.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your little turkeys.
* Note: The candy turkey contest isn’t just for kids. Adults love it, too. Zombie turkeys rarely win, in case you’re wondering.