Thanksgiving, that sacred day of food and family, friends and football. A day to show off your vegan stuffing, your chocolate-imbibed pecan pie, your great grandmother's finest crystal from the second World War. And then there are the kids. Lots of them. You have four nieces, six nephews, a couple cousin's kids, and the neighbors crew, all coming to play in your Thanksgiving-ed house with your children. Wouldn't it be lovely if said children didn't destroy your house? Yes, we think that'd be a fine goal to shoot for.
To help set us up for child-Thanksgiving success, we've drummed up nine easy activities to choose from to keep the wee ones happy and not hanging from the vintage, Civil War-era chandelier.
1. Decorate Your Own Tablecloth. All you need is a roll of butcher block or brown paper (check any big box or diy store) and a selection of markers or crayons. (Sharpies in a variety of colors work the best, but make sure to keep them out of the hands of the youngest tots. Eep!). Stretch the paper across any and all tables, then let the guests, big and small, decorate their own place at the table. You could even pre-draw tic-tac-toe or hang man games, to spark a little pre-dinner fun!
2. Turkey Handprint. Before we leave the crafting corner, don't forget about the age-old activity of tracing a little hand and then coloring it to look like a turkey, fingers to make the feathers and a thumb for the turkey's head. Little ones especially will get a giggle out of seeing their hand come to life, and you could challenge older kids or even adults to a turkey-hand decorating contest!
3. Leaf Garlands. Send the kiddies outside for leaves, if you live in a climate with fallen leaves. (If not, print out a leaf pattern and have older kids cut the shapes.) Then, with a small pile of leaves in front of them and an adult or older kid to help, each child can string together leaves with a needle and thread. Every age kid can contribute, and once the garland is finished, hang it over the window for a Thanksgiving Day embellishment!
4 Pie Face. If you haven't witnessed the trendy game, Pie Face is a hoot. An official game-in-a-box, Pie Face is a plastic hand you fill with whipped cream and then sit in front of. Only the luck of the click keeps you from a face full of whip!
5. Write Your Gratitude. Pass out small slips of pre-cut paper and pens, then ask the kids to write down or draw a picture of something they're grateful for. Use colored pens for fun, and have everyone sign theirs, if they're comfortable with it. Read aloud during dinner, or collect in a jar for next year. Obviously a great idea for the adults to lead out on, too!
6. Jump in the Leaves. Never underestimate a good ol' romp in a leaf pile! Rake a bunch of piles the day before, then when the kids start to get restless, send them out to play. Bring them in for hot cider afterward, along with the next activity. . . .
7. Two Gratitudes and a Complaint. A fun riff on writing your gratitude, this activity is exactly what it sounds like. Everyone shares two things they're grateful for and then a complaint they have. Sure, be grateful, but let's keep it real here!
8. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen. Maybe you're really aiming to hit home the idea of gratitude with your kids or your family's kids this year. Call an area soup kitchen and volunteer before or after dinner. Volunteers are always welcome, and especially around the holidays. This is an activity that will certainly offer your kids a renewed perspective on their lives, as well as brighten the faces of those in need.
9. Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Last but not least, round out the day by putting on this timeless classic. Watching Snoopy serve up dinner is sure to make everyone's Thanksgiving!
Here's to an enjoyable, relaxing, fun-filled Thanksgiving WITH the kids in tow!!