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Kids Get Involved in Thanksgiving: How to Make Turkey Day Fun for Children

Published by Jeff Rowray

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Thanksgiving is the ultimate family holiday. From the yummiest foods, to watching the Macy’s parade and football games on TV, to the last slice of pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving is a time of fun and togetherness for the whole family.

Get the children involved in your Thanksgiving celebration. Let your kids and the children of your guests help prepare the meal and take charge of setting the table and arranging appetizers on serving trays. Before and after the big meal there is lots of time for some fun activities.

Let them help with dinner

Sweet potato casseroles and stuffing recipes require lots of stirring that kids will love to volunteer for. Let them add mini marshmallows to the top of the sweet potatoes in whatever designs they wish.

With a food processor and some teen supervision, children can make cranberry relish. Try this easy and delicious recipe.

Cranberry Relish

  • 1 package (12 ounces or 1 pound) fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple, unpeeled, cut up, with stems and seeds removed
  • 1 navel orange, unpeeled, cut up with stem ends removed
  • ½ cup sugar

In a food processor, chop cranberries, apple and orange separately. Mix all the fruit together with the sugar. Store in the refrigerator for a few hours until serving time.

Put them in charge of decorating

Get out all of your autumn decorations and let the kids decorate for the day. If the weather cooperates, the children can go outdoors and gather pretty fall leaves and string them together for an autumn banner for your buffet table.

Buy a cornucopia basket and let the children pick fruit, nuts and other items to put inside it for a beautiful, seasonal centerpiece. Or challenge them to fill the basket with symbols of things they’re thankful for.

Let them be in charge of the table

Your Thanksgiving table is the center of attention on Turkey Day. Let the kids decide who is sitting where and let them set the table, centerpiece and all. They’ll enjoy their new responsibilities and it’s one less thing for the cook and hostess to worry about.

Even if it’s just your own family at your Thanksgiving table, place cards make a meal more special.

To make teepee place card holders, give the children cardstock paper and markers and let them decorate the paper with Native American designs. Roll the paper into a cone shape and tape it, leaving a small hole at the top and partially open at the bottom, so it resembles a teepee. Trim the bottom so it’s flat when placed on the table. Cut a slit in the top and slide in a place card.

Add some Thanksgiving activities

Start a new family tradition. Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to put together a game of touch football, street hockey or badminton. Most golf courses are open on Thanksgiving, but may not be very busy. Thanksgiving morning might be the perfect time for a just-for-fun golf scramble, in which even youngsters can participate.

Most movie theaters are open for the Thanksgiving holiday. Find a good family movie that’s playing and load up the cars and treat everyone to a movie after dinner.

Come up with an interactive craft

If you have guests coming for Thanksgiving, offer a craft that children and adults can participate in. Decorate picture frames and send them home with a group photo you’ve taken and printed on a photo printer.

For a cute turkey “basket” to hold rolls or napkins on your Thanksgiving table, cut out feather shapes from poster board and let each of your guests decorate a feather, using old wallpaper samples, wrapping paper, sequins, feathers, buttons, beads, glitter and markers. For the turkey’s body, cover a shoebox with brown paper or grocery bags. Staple to the front the turkey’s head, made from a paper plate that’s been folded into an “A” shape and the tip folded down and forward. You can draw on a beak and eyes and attach a red balloon for the “gobbler.” Have each guest attach his feather to the back (stapling works best).

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