Thanksgiving is a time when many families get together and celebrate. This means lots of children in one place at one time. Here are some ideas to help get those children to play together a bit better so families can relax after the meal is over and the kitchen is cleaned up. Keep in mind these ideas work best with kids that start around age 3, where they can do a bit more for themselves. It also helps to have a few older children around who like to help the younger ones. Whatever the case, these are worth a try!
Coloring. After you have cleaned the dining room table, cover it with big white pieces of butcher paper. Set out crayons, and let the children design on the big paper. Coloring becomes a lot more interesting when you add a new detail, such as the big paper on the table. Have extra paper handy in case the kids use up the first piece.
Dress-up. Provide the kids with a bunch of new dress-up clothes and a basket, and let them have fun. Don’t set out the new clothes until after Thanksgiving dinner, so the items will be brand new and interesting. You don’t have to spend a fortune on dress-up clothes. Hit your local Goodwill or Salvation Army and check out what they have on the racks. Don’t forget to look for small size scrubs so the kids could play doctor, etc.
Bug Catcher. If you live in an area that has nice weather on Thanksgiving and you have a safe yard for the children to be outside alone in, provide them with containers to catch bugs and have the kids see who can catch the most bugs, or who can catch a certain kind of bug, etc. Or, just give them the bug catchers and see what they come up with.
Games & Puzzles. If there will be older kids at the house, provide them with a variety of games they can play themselves. If you don’t happen to have a bunch of games or puzzles, have every family bring a game along. If the adults want to play to, they could. Otherwise, make the games child specific and let the kids play while the adults relax. Think of games like Candy Land for younger children (ages 4, 5, etc.) and UpWords for older children (ages 11, 12, etc.)
Boxes. If you have some old boxes, don’t throw them away. Save them for Thanksgiving and let the kids play and create with the boxes. If you have a larger area (such as a basement or playroom) set the boxes down there with a few pieces of fake kitchen food or utensils so the children can play house if they would like.
Crafting. If the kids are old enough to glue, cut, etc. by themselves, set up the dining room table with boxes of crafting supplies and let the kids make things while the adults relax. You don’t have to have tons of fancy crafting items to do this with. Just give the kids some old string, buttons, any beads you might have from broken necklaces, etc. Think about old socks or paper bags so the kids can stuff them and make a turkey. A child can create just about anything from what adults consider junk. Be creative, and they will too.
Music. Depending on how tolerant the adults are at Thanksgiving and how much space the house has that the party will be at, you could set the kids up with a radio and fun music and let them dance. Or, give them some musical instruments (think of paper plates stapled together filled with beans for a shaker, and old Pringles carton for a drum, etc.) and let the create their own music. Again, this idea isn’t for every family, but it works for me and it might for you too.
Movie. When all else fails, if you have an extra television in the house, pick out a movie and let the kids watch it. Just make sure the movie is something every kid would like. Don’t pick out a princess movie if the majority of the children will be boys!
I hope you can find at least one suggestion to help make your Thanksgiving holiday with the kids more relaxing and enjoyable. Happy Holidays!