UPDATED November 14th, 2017
My children like to be included in activities around the house, and Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to put them to work! Kids get revved up about Thanksgiving, as it ushers in the holiday season, and finding ways for them to help gives them a sense of belonging and responsibility. So use this time of year to your advantage, and get quality family time and a little extra help with your Thanksgiving planning and preparations!
Here are four fun ways to get the kids involved in Thanksgiving prep:
CREATE YOUR MENU TOGETHER
Ask the kids what they prefer to eat for the holiday. Most children have a favorite food, and even if it’s not a traditional Thanksgiving dish—making it will help to ensure that they eat, and put that picky eater to rest during the meal. If your kids write, let them make the menu. If they’re not yet writing, have them draw pictures of the items you’ll prepare.
Once you complete the menu you can include them in the trip to the grocery store to purchase ingredients. My kids love to see where the items come from and they feel important when they are able to carry find them and bring them to me, or even push the cart. You can also incorporate the concept of math when purchasing the items—the use of money and counting. In fact, you can get an entire math lesson out of choosing ingredients and purchasing them for your Thanksgiving meal.
MAKE DINNER TOGETHER
Kids can chop vegetables, fill pie crusts, measure and mix ingredients for you—all using their math skills. This hands-on experience is proof of how much work goes into preparing this special dinner, and will help them appreciate how family comes together to create the meal. It’s also a great way to encourage them to pitch in at other mealtimes, not just at Thanksgiving.
DECORATE THE TABLE
Look, your Thanksgiving dinner setting does not need to look like it came right off the pages of Southern Living. Let the kids plan the place settings and decorations for the table. A week or a few days ahead of time, supply them with construction paper, safety scissors, glue and washable markers, and let them make a custom place card for every guest, as well as fun place mats or centerpieces.
Few of us look at a cluttered post-Thanksgiving table full of dirty plates and silverware, and find ourselves anxious to start cleaning up. But you can encourage your children to help by incorporating a discussion of future plans for the next Thanksgiving. What was their favorite side dish? What dish will they make next year? Who should we invite? This post-dinner clean-up and conversation can become a yearly tradition, and the dishes will be done before you know it.
We always let our boys say grace before our Thanksgiving meal, and share what they are most thankful for. What better ways to build memories, start new traditions and enjoy the day as a family? And, if in the process, you get a little help with all that Thanksgiving prep, then you’ve really got something to be thankful for!