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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

The turkey's perfectly golden, the pies are beautiful, the table is set, the children are...hanging from the chandelier?!? It is a lot to expect from little ones - sitting still and quiet, eating food they may not like, being hugged and kissed by relatives they do not know, missing naps, eating sugar - it is a recipe for tantrums and foolishness. Thankfully, I am blessed with a wonderfully understanding mother (she has worked in childcare for 25 years!) who hosts our Thanksgiving Dinner and we work together to make it "kid-friendly" a.k.a. fun! Here are some ways we do that, some may work for your situation - some may not, but I encourage you to plan ahead and think about ways that you can make it enjoyable for all ages! 

  • We set a table (or part of the main table) specifically for the children. No fancy table cloths or napkins - we have found this table cloth they could color at Wal-Mart. Using place-cards is a great way to help children stay where they are supposed to be, and it will make them feel special to have their own seat :) 

  • Ease up on your expectations on this day - don't expect them to eat every bite of food or be perfectly quiet :) 

  • The day before our Thanksgiving dinner, I make homemade playdough and we make these cute Turkeys for each child. It is amazing how long you can occupy little hands with some playdough they can manipulate and coloring pages they can get creative with. 

Playdough Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
Mix and knead together

  • I have my kiddos help me make Turkey no-bake cookies to put on their plates at the dinner. It is a fun way to include them in the preparations and a great opportunity to talk about the expectations for the day. 

  • We found these fun Thanksgiving placemats at Target's dollar spot - four placemats for $1.00! Last year was unseasonably warm, and we had our dinner outside. I planned a scavenger hunt for the kids, and I have made a free printable scavenger hunt for you!

  • In years past, we have made a thanks chain which is just another fun way to include the children...

  • We also do a Gratitude Tree (just some branches and a mason jar). Each person writes what they are thankful for on a leaf and then ties it onto the tree. We will go around and have each person share what they are thankful for during the meal. 

  • Probably my children's favorite part comes AFTER the meal, but it works as a wonderful incentive for them to make good choices. My mom organizes this in our family - but you could bring yours along if you are having Thanksgiving at someone elses home - or wait until you have returned home. My mom buys each of the children (and the adults!) a pair of new Christmas pajamas. They dress their dog Lucy up as Santa and have her pull the gifts (jammies) into the room as the children excitedly wait. They always love getting their new pajamas, putting them on and watching a Christmas movie. It is the perfect way to wind down and usher in the Christmas season. 

Happy Thanksgiving! 
How do you make your Thanksgiving Dinner "kid-friendly"?


  1. I love the PJ and Christmas movie idea. I think we will implement that this year.

    1. That is definitely our favorite part! :)

  2. Love the kid's table ideas! They look like fun!

    1. Thanks, Tonia :) Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Thank you for sharing such an awesome Thanksgiving printable. I loved it so much that I shared it on my blog during the Five Freebie Friday link-up on something2offer.com. Please stop by and link-up more awesome things to share if you’d like. Trying to create another resource for parents to find great stuff for their children!


I really appreciate your comment! I read every one and try to reply in a timely fashion. Have a blessed day :)

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