A big part of Thanksgiving is sharing the day with family. And a wonderful lesson for the younger members of the family is that being part of the preparations makes sharing the feast together all the more fun and memorable. But with our hurried lives, allowing the children to “help” in the kitchen or with other preparations sometimes seems more bother than it’s worth.
Please, if possible, try to remember the value of these times for your children. It can take a few extra moments, but they will feel proud and engaged in the day, and what better life lesson can you give to your young family on Thanksgiving?
How about putting the children in charge of the table decorations? Of course, you may not end up with the elegant styles featured in magazines, but in your children’s eyes the dining table and chairs will become works of art. And, I would like to imagine that all of your guests will appreciate their efforts, no matter how primitive the results.
One day a week or so before Thanksgiving Day, set up a craft station on the coffee table in the family room, or at the kitchen table. This is a great time to turn off the television and play station, put away the computer games and interact as a family.
How about letting them make “turkeys” with construction paper? I am sure you remember them from your own youth. Start by tracing small hands onto the paper and coloring, and cutting out the shapes. Make a stand out of more construction paper and glue together with glue sticks. Have them write each guest’s name (or help if they are too young!) on the turkeys, and use at each place setting. You can let the kids glue on beads, glitter, or feathers, or other craft items you find if you would like even “fancier” turkeys. Pasta is another great and inexpensive craft item for kids. They can make place cards with macaroni and ziti borders.
A family excursion outdoors can yield fall leaves and branches. Use these for a center piece arrangement that you and your children create together.
When it comes to the actual meal, there are plenty of small, easy tasks that the kids can also engage in. Have them spread cream cheese into washed and trimmed celery stalks, and decorate with olives, almonds, or other small food items. If these side dishes are less than perfect in appearance, the adults will understand and appreciate that the kids pitched in, and the kids themselves will feel so proud of their “cooking” part of the meal. Kids can do little things like put rolls into pans for warming, add butter to peas or carrots, etc. And of course, have them help set the table, using their precious decorations and making each place setting special.