Thanksgiving with children can be an opportunity for fun and festivity. We checked in with Lodi moms, dads, cooks and caretakers for their tips on how to make the holiday meal special and stress free. A pro tip: the elementary school set make great taste-testers!
1. Make lists
Children generally have no idea what goes into creating a memorable family meal. Spell it out together by writing up lists for groceries, guests and the menu.
2. Sack lunch
No Thanksgiving meal ever starts at a normal time. Stave off hunger with a simple brown bag lunch ahead of the main course.
3. Cook and store
Lots of dishes, like pumpkin pie and stuffing, can be made the day before, leaving you with less time in the kitchen on the holiday itself. Stick the pre-made dished in the fridge and reheat them just before dinnertime.
In the kitchen
4. Space it out
Set aside a few tasks kids can do, like mashing potatoes or assembling the green bean casserole, in another room. That gives them room to work and keeps them away from the hot oven and stove.
5. Delegate the work
Older kids can be in charge of a single recipe. Have a pre-teen make the pumpkin pie filling or prepare the cranberry sauce. They’ll be proud to watch their family dish up the food they made.
6. Always learning
When you measure, have your child count it out. Tell them how butter is made, or where potatoes come from. Create learning moments to keep your child engaged in the task.
Craft a simple script for children to use as they greet guests, take coats and offer up drinks as visitors arrive.
Your table could use a bit of natural decor. Send young ones on a nature walk, and make a centerpiece of leaves, pinecones, pebbles and twigs.
9. Clean up time
Even if you couldn’t persuade your children to help prepare the meal, they can clear the table. Spur them on by promising dessert afterwards.
At the kids’ table
10. Set the table
Skip the fine china, but make the table special. Matching salad-size plates (for small bellies), water glasses and festive napkins add to the holiday feel.
11. Fancy drinks
Adults are imbibing on their favorite wines. Include the kids in the occasion by serving glasses of sparkling cider.
12. Cozy mugs
Instead of coffee with pie for dessert, set up a hot chocolate bar with marshmallows, sprinkles and fresh whipped cream.
Keep them busy
13. Paper tablecloth
Avoid ruining grandma’s linens by covering the kid’s dinner table in butcher paper. Add a small box of crayons at each table setting and let kids create.
14. Craft time
Make a grateful turkey by cutting out tailfeathers, writing what the kids are thankful for on them, and gluing them to a pinecone to build a turkey. Add googly eyes for extra cute points.
15. Go outside
Weather permitting, send everyone to the park with a basketball or football for a few hours. The children get fresh air and burn off some energy while the adults have some quiet time in the house.