Between juggling cooking times, last-minute tidying and family arrivals, a day intended for giving thanks can turn into a truly stressful occasion that detracts from the real reason for celebrating. However, Thanksgiving isn't just an emotional strain on adults-kids can easily start to feel overwhelmed on Turkey Day, too. Try these fun and festive tricks for family bonding while hosting a feast to remember.
Involving your kids in preparation for the day not only makes them feel they've played a big part in the festivities, it also teaches them helpful skills they can apply for the rest of their lives. Let your little cooks cut out fall shapes to prep these Cheesy Crescent Roll Leaves for your bread basket, or assign more advanced chefs-in-training to a simple yet delicious dessert under your supervision.
Tablescape crafts, like this grateful little pumpkin project, are another great way to let little ones shine, and they add a personal touch to your family table. Help them make this thankful tree craft by creating the tree base and cutting out leaf shapes they can write on and attach to the branches for a truly unique and inspiring centerpiece or hallway accent to welcome guests to the celebration.
Set up a kids' craft table in an out-of-the-way spot to help break the ice among cousins who don't see each other often. Stock it with colored construction paper, themed printables, markers, stickers, kid-safe scissors, stencils and glue sticks (be sure all supplies are age-appropriate).
This would be a great place to introduce kids to Thanksgiving Bingo, allowing them to pick up their card to play for the remainder of the night.
One Charming Party
It's no secret that waiting is seldom a kid's favorite pastime, and prolonging dinnertime is no one's idea of a good time. While you're putting the finishing touches on dinner, curb children's cravings with light and festive snacks like this popcorn-stuffed paper bag turkey or a turkey-shaped cheese tray to keep tummies from grumbling before dinner begins.
Every gathering needs a greeter-is your little one up to the task? "By the time they're about 6 or 7, kids should be able to shake hands and look someone in the eye they haven't met before," says Cindy Post Senning, great-granddaughter of Emily Post.
Starting kids out early with a book on etiquette basics is always a good idea, but you can simplify table manners for Thanksgiving by telling kids that if something would make someone else say "Ew," don't do it. (This Pass the Pig game is a fun way to teach manners during weeknight meals.) Dazzle everyone in attendance further by coaching your firstborn to hold grandma's chair when the gang's sitting down for dinner.
Extra credit: For older, tech-dependent kids, consider sending smartphones to jail to encourage full attention at the table.
Get Creative Juice
Customize the kids' table with fun and easy DIYs! A budget-friendly kraft paper table runner makes cleanup simple and further personalizes their place settings.
For after dinner, set up a cozy reading corner with mom-approved, holiday-themed books. Older kids can show off their reading skills to the little ones as they snuggle in close to listen. Here are some of our favorite titles:
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings by Stan Berenstain
The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful by Colleen Coble
We know, we know: The temptation to settle in for a snooze after dinner is strong. But keep little bodies moving and energized with post-meal activities that will keep the entire family entertained. For a simple game, hide colorful "turkey" feathers around the house for kids to hunt, Easter egg-style. Use the found feathers for a Turkey Baster Relay. For more ideas, check out these active and imaginative games.
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