You will soon be welcoming friends and family to your home to share your Thanksgiving feast. Putting together a turkey dinner with all the trimmings is ten times as much work as your regular weeknight dinners and loads more people walking in and out of the kitchen eating, drinking and chatting. With all the kitchen chaos, keeping an eye on the kids and making sure they’re happy is tough as you juggle all the elements for the perfect holiday dinner. Here are 5 ideas to keep kids busy on Thanksgiving.
Reindeer Games Have a few games and puzzles pulled out for the kids to play. Don’t give them too many options — three or four games you know they like (not one you have to teach) is plenty to keep them distracted from their rumbling tummies as you put the finishing touches on the meal. If there are kids coming that your kids don’t know well, games are a good ice breaker and will get everyone interacting with each other. If you’re lucky, they’ll enjoy the games enough that they’ll return to them after dinner.
Duty Calls Give each child a job to do. For the younger children, assign them simple tasks like folding napkins or making sure the spoons are shiny. For older kids, give them the big duties that require critical thinking — put them in charge of the checklist of all the things that need to be done and have them make sure everyone is staying on task. For children of ages in between, have them set the table, greet friends and family at the door and take their coats. Giving kids a hand in the event makes them feel part of the production while giving them something to focus on rather than watching TV while you work.
Letters to Santa Thanksgiving is the perfect time for the kids to write their letters to Santa. Set aside plenty of paper and pens and catalogs (for inspiration) so they can put together their wish lists. For young guests, it will get them excited and distract them from the idea of being in an unfamiliar home. For the kids who no longer write letters to Santa, have them help the younger kids craft the perfect letter to old St. Nick.
Clever Crafts If there are a lot of kids coming over to share your holiday, set up a craft table with Thanksgiving themed projects to work on while the adults socialize and get the turkey on the dinner table. Have the older kids help the younger kids to make it a family activity. A craft table might seem like too much to take on, but giving kids something to pay attention to and work on will save you the headache of coming to the rescue when they get bored.
Last Resort The TV can be tricky when there are a lot of kids with different personalities — you don’t want any clashing over what to watch. Let them turn on the TV, but only give them a few, non-negotiable options for watching TV. Limit the programming to holiday movies or specials. If you have to turn it on, it should be something for everyone to enjoy.
Planning activities or crafts for kids during Thanksgiving is a big task to add to your Thanksgiving plate, but reducing the risk of boredom and tears makes the overtime worth it. If it’s not doable, pass the job off to one of your guests a few days in advance. Anyone who’s hosted a big Thanksgiving will jump at the chance to help out.
Happy Thanksgiving planning!