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15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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Posted: Friday, November 22, 2013 7:20 am

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!

Planning ahead

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

15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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.

15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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.

Kid-friendly jobs

7. Greetings

Craft a simple script for children to use as they greet guests, take coats and offer up drinks as visitors arrive.

15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

8. Scavenging

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.

15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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.

15 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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 tips and tricks to enjoy Thanksgiving with young children in the house

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.

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