Between waiting for the food to waiting for the check, a typical evening at a restaurant requires parents to perform a circus routine to keep the kids busy.
Now think about Thanksgiving. It's the stress of a restaurant meal times 1,000.
The once-a-year meal takes longer to make and to eat. There are more people involved. And children are out of arm's reach at the kids table.
Oh, the kids table. Why is it important and why do you need to take extra steps to occupy the younger of your holiday guests?
Well, because if you don't, Thanksgiving could become:
We've got your back, Thanksgiving hosts everywhere. We've found five easy ideas that require minimal effort to pull off while ensuring kids are satisfactorily occupied while the adults try to enjoy some turkey and fixings.
1. No-mess table crafts
You have plenty to do, if you're the hostess with the mostest. So run on down to Michael's and pick up a few low-cost items that require nothing more than the eager hands of children.
The Turkey Build-a-Scene Foam Kit By Creatology, which sells for $3 each, stands 8-inches tall and is put together with adhesive. The crafts store also sells Creatology assorted wooden fall-themed ornaments like scarecrows and pumpkins with markers and wooden fall-themed masks that can be painted. Both are $1.50. All items are only sold in the store.
2. Keep 'em laughing
The clever idea of keeping family, cousins and kids chaos free at the kids table comes to us from a blogger known as Bren Did.
She created this printable kids activity called the Thanksgiving Joke Teller. You don't even need to come up with the jokes. She's taken care of that. You just need a printer, your hands to fold the squares with colorful turkeys and jokes on them into the shape of what you may know as cootie catchers or fortune tellers and you're set.
"The joke tellers provide just enough of a distraction for me to breath, relax, and remind myself how blessed I am to have the whole rowdy bunch in my life," she writes.
Don't we all want that?
Find the printable and instructions here.
3. Dough'nt discount the power of squishy
Edible pumpkin dough can easily be shaped into cute pumpkins and be waiting at the table when young guests arrive and played with throughout the meal. (And in this instance they can play with their food, because this DIY recipe, courtesy of Kelly Dixon at Smart School House, is entirely edible.)
- 1 cup of pre-made frosting (vanilla or white)
- 2 ¾ cups of powdered sugar
- Orange food coloring
- Small craft stick for the stem
- Various pumpkin accessories like green cupcake liners or whatever you have in your home
- Various play dough toys or utensils from your kitchen
- Add the powdered sugar to the frosting in slow increments using the mixing paddle attachment on your mixer, continually scraping the sides of the bowl. If you don’t have this type of mixer, just mix in a large bowl.
- Before you add all of the powdered sugar, touch the play dough and, if it feels at all sticky, add the rest of the powered sugar.
- Add the orange food coloring until you reach your desired shade of orange.
- Considering that it is kind of hard to measure exactly one cup of frosting, you might have to eyeball the last quarter cup of powdered sugar that is necessary for this play dough.
- It WILL take a lot more powdered sugar than it looks like though (just continue to test the stickiness and say no to sticky play dough).
- Roll it into one big ball and make sure it is not crumbly or sticky. If, by chance, you added a little too much powdered sugar, don’t worry! We aren’t perfect! Simply sprinkle a little olive oil onto the play dough and BOOM! Problem solved!
- Shape into pumpkins and add the stem.
Check out the full blog post here.
4. Give them candy to play with
Plates of steaming food are on the table, the turkey is carved and your child is...where? Disappeared from the kids table. If you have this adorable apple turkey craft ready to go 15 minutes before all the dishes hit the table, your child will still be in their seat. This is the perfect craft to keep small hands busy so the adults can finish up last-minute preparations in the kitchen before and during the time the food is being prepped for the grown-up table.
Rachel, a blogger at IHeartCraftyThings.com learned to make these gobbly goodies from her mother during Thanksgiving and now she's sharing them with us.
- Spice drops
- Candy corn
- Red fruit snack or red gummy candy, cut in half
- Poke three spice drops onto several toothpicks to make the turkey feathers. Insert the ends of the toothpicks along the back of the apple. If your apple starts to teeter one way you have to counter balance it with more feathers on the other side.
- Poke a large marshmallow into another toothpick and poke it into the front of your apple. Fill in your apple turkey’s face by poking in raisins for eyes, a candy corn beak and half of a red fruit snack for the waddle. I used a whole fruit snack for my waddle and then we decided it was too big so we cut the others in half. You decide what you like best.
- Poke one spice drop onto the ends of two toothpicks and then insert them into the front of the turkey for the turkey legs and feet.
MORE IDEAS: 9 fun Thanksgiving crafts for kids
5. Make them work for dessert by decorating cookies
Kids finish first. They always do. While everyone else is grabbing seconds, the kids declare the meal over. If you're not ready to release them from the table — and hence have to worry about what they might be up to in other parts of the house — bring out the Thanksgiving-themed cookies for them to decorate.
Decorate sugar cookies or the cookie of your choice with seasonal shapes like leaves or turkeys. Then bring out frosting and sprinkles for the kids to decorate.
Enjoy the rest of your meal while the children get a head start on dessert. More pie for you!