Thanksgiving Fun for Kids: Kids Table and Beyond

Thanksgiving Day is a long day for children. Cooking and baking begins early in the morning. Adults like to dawdle over their food and football games. They also love to just talk and talk and talk to each other. While adults are capable of making their own fun, it is frequently more difficult for the children to do the same. Keep a kids table available with plenty of activities to keep the children occupied.
Create the kids table.
Set up the children’s table in an area that is separate yet accessible from the adult table. The kids should feel independent yet secure in the sense of supervision.
Instead of a card table with folding chairs, Wendy Waxman on the Food Network recommends using a low table with cushions and pillows on which to sit. Children are quite comfortable on the floor. Use a coffee table or create your own using bricks and boards.
If it is nice outside, you can also consider setting up a picnic table on the porch.
Let the kids decorate.
Cover the kids table with a disposable tablecloth. White paper ones are much more versatile. Be sure to have a couple available, as different activities throughout the day could cause the first one to become messy.
Leave crayons, markers, and/or colored pencils on the table so children can freely draw and write out games to play on the tablecloth.
Let the children make crafts to put on the kids table. You can buy a cornucopia basket at your local arts and crafts store. If it is large enough, have the children fill it with real fruits and vegetables. If not, purchase small plastic ones. Share the importance of the cornucopia, also known as the “horn of plenty”, and let the children have fun with it.
Save a few toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut them into rings. The kids can design napkin rings. When they are complete, the children can roll napkins for all the guests and help set the tables. Don’t worry about using the fancy dishes with the kids. You will all be less-stressed about potential breakage, and clean-up is a snap for the kids to do independently.
Kids can also create place cards for the guests. Have a guest list already written out so that the children can copy the names. Let them decorate index cards with stickers or drawings.
For those who like to dress-up, allow them to create Indian headbands by making feathers out of paper or gluing on fake ones from a craft store. Or, make Pilgrim hats. Templates are available from a variety of websites.
Kids can also decorate fun placemats. Purchase long construction paper for the children to decorate with drawings or stickers. Find beautiful leaves outside. Print off coloring pages, crossword puzzles, word searches, and other fun games from a variety of websites (see the resource section at the end of the article). Cut them down to size and glue to a placemat or place at the table. To protect the creations, cover them with clear Contact paper.
Purchase larger bouquets of festive flowers. Let the children cut the flowers down and make their own smaller arrangements for the tables.
Let the kids cook and play with food.
Young children are quite capable of helping to cook. They can stir dishes, scoop into bowls, stuff the turkey.
Allow older children to be in charge of serving food and drinks.
Create a new Thanksgiving tradition by baking sugar cookies in fun Thanksgiving shapes. Let the kids decorate the sugar cookies any way they want. For a fun spicy twist, mix pumpkin pie spice with the sugar before you sprinkle it over the cookies. They can do this while waiting for dinner to be ready, then eat their creations after dinner.
Kids can play with food by making turkeys out of apples. Use toothpicks to attach different kinds of fruit to the apple. Use a large marshmallow for a head. Raisins or dried cranberries make eyes. Strips of carrots can be the feathers or the wings. Or string small marshmallows on toothpicks for feathers. Nuts can make the beak. Pretzel sticks make the feet. Peanut butter is also a good adhesive. (Always be aware of food allergies!)
FamilyFun.com has a similar activity, in which a potato is used as the body. They recommend using bell peppers, carrots, summer squash, red onion, apples, raisins, dried cranberries, and nuts.
Give the children their own serving bowls at the table. Allow them design their own creations with food. But set the ground rules that all food must be eaten and there will be no food fights. Thick mashed potatoes are great for sculpting. Bits of turkey and veggies or mac ‘n’ cheese make great decorations.
After Eating
After eating, children will be restless. Let them burn off that energy by running around outside. Create an area where they can play games like musical chairs or Duck Duck Goose (or Pilgrim Pilgrim Turkey).
If you watched the Thanksgiving parade in the morning, allow the kids to create their own costumes and floats for their own parade.
For calmer activities, have a variety of board games available for tournaments.
Let them watch a Thanksgiving movie, such as A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. (You will probably have to find a separate tv, as the main tv will be occupied by football fanatics.)

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