Thanksgiving is almost here, which means a day filled with family, food, and fun is just around the corner! If you’re hosting dinner, knowing the day is near might make you feel excited, nervous, or a combination of the two — especially if you have children.
While it might be tempting to kick everyone out of the kitchen so you can prepare a nice meal in peace, getting your children involved lets them bond with you and learn more about the holiday and your family’s traditions. Here are five ways you can include your kids on Thanksgiving:
1. Preparing for the Meal
Along with planning your Thanksgiving Day menu, you may have to account for picky eaters. So let the kids know about the veggies you’ll be eating on Thanksgiving, especially the ones they don’t like. When you set the expectation early on that this is what everyone will be eating and that’s that, you can reduce the risk of a picky-eater meltdown at dinner.
Once you’ve told your children about the Thanksgiving menu, make the preparation more fun by letting them choose their own potatoes, pumpkins, green beans, and other produce you need from the store. You can also talk about traditional Thanksgiving foods on the way to the grocery store, which will help your kids better understand why we eat certain things on the holiday.
2. Giving to Others
Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for our loved ones and for the necessities we have, like fresh food and warm clothing. It’s also a great opportunity to support others who might be struggling this Thanksgiving and to offer them a reason to be thankful.
No matter how old your children are, teaching them to be generous and put others first is a wonderful thing. Have them go through old toys and clothes to see what they could donate to people in need. Or, your kids could help you donate canned food by going through the cupboard or grocery shopping with you.
3. Decorating & Table-Setting
Let the kids get creative with decorating for dinner! One way to do this is to go outside with them the day before to find colorful leaves. Press the leaves in a book overnight so they’ll lay flat on the table for decorations. Or, your children can trace the leaves on brown, orange, red, and yellow paper, then cut them out (with your help) for the table.
Once the decorations are ready, water glasses are filled, and napkins are folded, your kids can also set the table with plates, utensils, and placemats. They can make these cute coloring placemats by writing “I am thankful for…” at the top of a piece of paper. Your children (and guests) can fill in the blank with pens or crayons, then share what they’re thankful for during dinner. Drawing or doodling on the placemats is encouraged, too!
4. Greeting Guests
Running back and forth from the kitchen to the living room to greet your guests can be exhausting — and it’s a recipe for water boiling over when you’re not watching it! So why not let your kids play host and give yourself time to finish up the meal?
Your children can say hello to family and friends as they arrive, take their coats, and show them where the drinks and snacks are. Your guests will love this (because it’s adorable and polite!), and it will let your kiddos work on their manners and social skills.
5. Prepping & Cooking Food
If your kids aren’t greeting guests or setting the table, have them help you in the kitchen! Younger children can hand you ingredients, wash lettuce, or scrub potatoes, while older ones can help you with cutting, mixing, and cooking. They could also arrange fruit or vegetable slices into a turkey — a cute alternative to a regular fruit salad or veggie plate.
Another way to get kids excited about preparing the meal? Let them have their own Thanksgiving dish! You can teach them about the ingredients in a recipe, then help them prepare and cook it. Then, you can name the recipe after your child, like “Michael’s Mac and Cheese” or “Penny’s Pumpkin Pie.” Your kids will love having a special dish named after them and served just for Thanksgiving!
When you include your kids on Thanksgiving by following these tips, your family will create wonderful memories and maybe even new traditions!
Want more healthy and delicious recipe ideas?
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