20 Ideas for Kids Waiting on Thanksgiving Dinner

Wondering how to keep them occupied while you’re whipping up Aunt Marge’s sweet potato casserole? Set up a small table in an adjacent room, grab a few minimal-mess supplies, and try out a few of these timely strategies. Have them …

  • Craft “I’m thankful for you!” cards. Have an example ready.
  • Collect the most colorful leaves they can find outside, wipe their feet, then string them into a garland with a pre-tied needle and thread.
  • Act as assistant to elderly relatives.
  • Toss a football—even in flag football, supervised by a willing family member.
  • Have children interview family members, then create a paper chain of all the things your family is thankful for!
  • Create placemats or place cards for the feast.
  • Color a Happy Thanksgiving banner for display, allowing every family member to write what they’re thankful for this year.
  • Act as honorary sous-chefs for a pre-written list of activities: arranging crudités, stirring gravy, spreading whipped cream, loading mashed potatoes into a bowl.
  • Complete printed, easy Thanksgiving activity books, sweetening the deal with a small reward for completed activity books.
  • Get creative at a small, plastic-covered cookie-decorating table (think icing with decorating tips or in small bowls, with a few sprinkles). Ask a kind teenager or young adult—or an unoccupied aunt—to supervise.
  • Put together their own Thanksgiving skit or play.
  • Construct, with the help of a few examples and sample patterns, construction paper Pilgrim/Native American hats.
  • Indulge a bit with the pre-recorded parade, or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
  • Engage in a friendly tournament of board games.
  • Create a table of kid-friendly nibbles.
  • Serve as waiters: folding napkins, wiping down surfaces, putting together a centerpiece of pomegranates and red grapes, or mini-gourds and “Indian” corn; setting the table; taking drink orders.
  • Enjoy low-mess activities, like watercolor or playdough.
  • Read Thanksgiving books borrowed from the library or your own collection.
  • Author and illustrate books from stapled sheets of paper on the Thanksgiving story.
  • Look up Bible verses from a written list of references on gratitude, choosing their favorite to read at the meal.

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