Thanksgiving Dinner with Kids: Children’s Table Fun

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together, enjoy each other’s company, relax and eat to much good food. It can also be a time of noise and bedlam depending on the ages of younger guests. Kids get bored when expected to sit for more than a few minutes with nothing to engage their hands or minds. Below I’ve rounded up a few games and activities to help keep them entertained on Thanksgiving Day. For younger children that will undoubtedly make noise no matter what you try, give them games that encourage a certain amount of noise and activity. This works as a good compromise between expecting perfect behavior and having a horde of children run screaming through the room while the adults attempt to eat and hold a civilized conversation.


Ever notice how most kids want to play with their food? They pick it up and wave it around, poke the table with it, bounce check it on their plate, and even finer paint if they think they can get away with it. Save yourself some of the clean up this year and limit the amount of gooey, messy, staining foods that are put on their table. Consider sticking with just the turkey, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls from the adults table and adding more kid friendly foods for the rest. Carrot sticks, celery sticks, and apple slices are generally a good bet with kids. Jello Jigglers provide giggles and fun, and though they can be messy, it’s been my experience that they disappear into mouths much to fast to be played with.


A quick easy game to put together for elementary ages that are able to read requires a 3-D turkey center piece, pencils and a few sheets of construction paper. Cut the paper into additional tail feather pieces that will be added to the center piece. Each new tail feather should have a simple question printed on it. With the youngest child going first and play continuing clockwise around the table each child will pull a feather and attempt to answer the question on it. If they are unable to answer, the feather is placed in a discard pile face down. Play is then passed to the next child. Game continues until each tail feather has been plucked and either answered and kept in front of the child or placed in the discard pile. The player with the most correctly answered feathers is declared the winner.

Guess the number is a fun game for all ages, even adults. By placing several containers full of different items such as buttons, beads, candy, pennies, small shells, etc. on the table and handing each person several strips of paper and a pencil you will have your young guests occupied for quite some time guessing how many are in each container. Have them write their name, their guess and the container they are guessing. Using attractive different size containers will also provide a unique center piece

For younger children (preschool ages) you will need colored paper, a deck of match game cards, crayons or markers and glue sticks. Lay out a pile of colored paper strips that will be woven into place mats. You will also want to cut some squares or rectangles that can be attached to the place mats as pockets. The pocket pieces should be cut slightly larger than the match cards. Once each child has completed their place mat, have them lay out the deck of match cards, as the game progresses, the children will put their matches in the pockets of their place mats.


One of my favorites is to simply encourage children’s own creative streak. Set up a small table as a crafts center and set out paper, scissors, pencils, glue and an assortment of the following; crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, puff balls, glitter shakers, small lengths of ribbon, squiggly eyes, and foam shapes.

All parents have found that a scrap of paper and a pen from mom’s purse can be a lifesaver when they need their children to sit still. Slip a stack of coloring pages and a few boxes of crayons onto the children’s table when you see that some are done eating.

Coloring pages and word search puzzles can be downloaded at various sites on the web, a few of my favorite places are Primarygames, the Kidzpage, and Amazingmoms. You’ll also find some more game idea’s on these sites!.

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