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How To Make Thanksgiving Special and Fun for Kids

You've got to admit, Thanksgiving isn't one of those holidays that ranks "up there" with kids. There are no gifts or big baskets filled to the brim with sugary treats. There are no fun decorations to hang or scary costumes to don.

But that doesn't mean the holiday has to be a total bust for children.

Over the years, I've come up with a few ways to get my girls into the spirit of Thanksgiving so that the holiday is both fun and meaningful for them.

1. Make a keepsake craft

Each year, we make a special craft, usually a hand print craft since it's easily adaptable to a turkey. We've done hand prints on paper, and we've also made molds that can be turned into hanging ornaments. You can find hand print molds online and in craft stores. Be sure to buy a mold that you can paint. Make the fingers the feathers of the turkey and the thumb the turkey's head. It's fun and creative and can be enjoyed for years.

2. Make a special treat

Since there's no going door to door for treats, we make our own. There are plenty of easy and kid-friendly cupcakes and cookies that you can make that are festive and don't involve a big mess. This turkey cupcake is super cute and easy. Little ones can practice their math skills by counting and sorting the candy corn pieces. Photo credit:

3. Make Thanksgiving dinner fun!

Children are often overwhelmed at a table filled with fancy plates and stemware. They fear they'll knock something over and break a glass or worse yet, spill food and drinks all over the table.

Place the kids at one section of the table or at a table all their own. Rather than place a tablecloth on the kids' section, place art paper on the table and give each child a box of crayons or markers and let them create away while they wait for dinner to be served or after they have finished.

Use paper, plastic or acrylic plates and stemware to eliminate the fear of breaking something. Let's face it, when there are kids, there are spills. It happens. Don't make cleaning up broken china and crystal part of the chore.

4. Gather the family on the sofa and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade

I started this tradition with my oldest daughter when she was 2. Now, 9 years later, this is one of our most cherished times at Thanksgiving. We snuggle up on the sofa with our comfy blankets and we sip hot apple cider as we watch all the colorful floats and talented performers. It's so much fun to share which float is our favorite.

And once we see Santa in the parade, it immediately puts us in the mood for the holiday season!

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Comment by Sheila Hill on December 2, 2013 at 6:17pm

Thank you! Thanksgiving was wonderful. Nice and relaxing. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too! 

Comment by Hackensack Meridian Health on December 2, 2013 at 5:18pm

Great post Sheila!  Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!


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