If your kids are anything like mine, the minute you head for the kitchen, they are right behind you saying, ‘Can I help?’ Those words make my heart happy and at the same time, I bristle thinking about the messes that will inevitably be made. It is much easier for me to cook a meal alone. Including the kids takes more planning, time, and much more patience. The last thing I want to happen when planning a large gathering, like Thanksgiving, is to get derailed by a small army of children nipping at my heels with requests to ‘help’. Thanksgiving preparation goes beyond the kitchen too. Here are some tips on how to involve your kids in Thanksgiving festivities with things like cooking, decorating, or even entertainment.
If your kids would like to help in the kitchen I suggest picking one kid-friendly dish. Maybe even consult with your kiddo. Give them a few options and let them choose what they would like to create.
Most recipes can be adjusted so that even the youngest helpers can have a job. They may not be ready to chop potatoes, but they can help wash and mash them! Tasks like stirring and dumping are within the ability level of most kids. (Although each of those can end up a bit messy!) Kids are also good at watching the timer. Make sure the oven light is turned on so they can keep an eye on their creations.
Dessert is always fun for children. Maybe the main dessert will be a ‘mommy job’ but the kids can help with a special version of an old faithful, like rice Krispy treats or brownies. Just decorate the treats with candy corn and it becomes a Thanksgiving specialty. Finally, snacks like a veggie tray or crackers and cheese are perfect for little helpers. Have them create a pattern with the carrots and celery, or simply create a pretty plate of their own design.
Maybe your kids would like to help decorate for Thanksgiving. Here’s an opportunity for your creative kiddos to shine. Streamers, pumpkin décor, handprint turkeys, the options are endless. They could decorate napkin rings, or make place cards, which is especially fun for early writers and can be kept as a keepsake for years to come.
If you are hosting Thanksgiving, it is an excellent time to teach kids about being a welcoming host. Greeting guests at the door, showing them where to put their coats, and offering a beverage or snack are all tasks that children might enjoy. If your child is more outgoing he might want to facilitate a thankful conversation around the dinner table. If you have lots of kids at your holiday gathering, they might want to act out a Thanksgiving play or perform a few Thanksgiving-themed songs.
Planning a Thanksgiving feast can be stressful and overwhelming. Take a few minutes to think of ways to incorporate your kids. Allowing them to help, and experience Thanksgiving in that way might allow you to enjoy it more. Instead of trying to keep your kids out of the way, give them a job.
Children love to be involved and when their attention span runs out….there’s always A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on DVD.