Last Updated on March 21, 2024

Wondering how to keep your kids 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!

Things to do while waiting on Thanksgiving dinner

1. Craft “I’m thankful for you!” cards. Have an example ready.

2. 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.

    3. Act as assistant to elderly relatives.

    4. Toss a football—even in flag football, supervised by a willing family member.

    5. Have children interview family members, then create a paper chain of all the things your family is thankful for!

    6. Create placemats or place cards for the feast.

    7. Color a Happy Thanksgiving banner for display, allowing every family member to write what they’re thankful for this year.

    8. 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.

    9. Complete printed, easy Thanksgiving activity books, sweetening the deal with a small reward for completed activity books.

    10. 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.

    11. Put together their own Thanksgiving skit or play.

    12. Construct, with the help of a few examples and sample patterns, construction paper Pilgrim/Native American hats.

    13. Indulge a bit with the pre-recorded parade, or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

    14. Engage in a friendly tournament of board games.

    15. Create a table of kid-friendly nibbles.

    16. 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.

    17. Enjoy low-mess activities, like watercolor or playdough.

    18. Read Thanksgiving books borrowed from the library or your own collection.

    19. Author and illustrate books from stapled sheets of paper on the Thanksgiving story.

    20. Look up Bible verses from a written list of references on gratitude, choosing their favorite to read at the meal.

    As the anticipation for Thanksgiving dinner builds, keep these 20 ideas in mind to make the waiting time as enjoyable and memorable as the feast itself. Whether its crafting festive decorations, playing outdoor games, or engaging in heartwarming traditions, there’s no shortage of ways to make the wait for dinner an exciting part of the holiday celebration.

    So gather your little ones, spark their creativity, and savor every moment leading up to the main event. After all, Thanksgiving isn’t just about the meal—it’s about the cherished moments we share, both big and small!

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