How to Keep the Kids Busy While You Cook Thanksgiving Dinner

We’ve written about how to keep adults out of your kitchen while you’re putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving feast, but what about all those short people you live with with small feet, sticky hands, and loud voices that rarely stop. run away? grabbing and screaming? If you are hosting, it is difficult enough to sync the turkey and all parties to go out at the same time (ish) without the added stress of keeping the child (or multiple children) busy. Here’s how you can keep them busy and make your day smoother.

Let them decorate the cookies

It could be a Thanksgiving-themed treat or just a fun way to pass the time while you water the bird. Set up a cookie decorating station with pre-cooked sugar cookies, squeezable frosting tubes in different colors (or make your own and place them in these reusable bottles ), sprinkles and dips. (You can put in a plastic tablecloth first to roll up the mess easily.) Or: Get a couple of gingerbread houses and have them head into town while you prepare the pie filling.

Give them jobs outside the kitchen (or low-stakes kitchen jobs)

Depending on their age, children will be willing and really happy to do a variety of chores to help you get ready. Setting the table, rolling napkins into napkin rings, and writing people’s names on cards are all viable ideas. If they are older and capable of doing harder jobs, assign them additional cleaning duties such as dusting, vacuuming, or cleaning the bathroom (perhaps adding a couple of extra dollars to their allowance as an incentive).

Children can also help with a few things in the kitchen that won’t require your constant supervision or will not threaten the quality of the entire dish (again, depending on the age). Things like peeling or chopping vegetables, peeling or mashed potatoes, picking and stirring salad, or slicing cranberry sauce jelly along the ridges (using a kid- safe knife ). They could also dry plastic dishes, load the dishwasher, or transport canned drinks to the nearest refrigerator.

DIY Thanksgiving

If there is one thing a young child loves more than a craft, it is the knowledge that this craft will soon be on display for everyone to praise and fill them with pride. Ask them to create a napkin or Thanksgiving themed picture. (A 6-year-old drawing of the Mayflower being attacked by the Kraken, anyone?) Color the wooden napkin rings , make an apple turkey with toothpicks and marmalades, a paper bag turkey , or ask them to start a small charity project. cards on which guests can write what they are grateful for so that they can be read aloud later. (Cards created, cut, dealt, and collected by the designated child.)

Send them hunting and gathering

Young children will be thrilled to run outside on a “secret mission” to hunt and collect as many natural items as possible to decorate the table – as described here at Boston Mamas . (The only “secret” part is that you won’t see what they collected or how they collected it until it’s complete.) Collect them and send them with baskets to collect beautiful leaves, pine cones, acorns. , pebbles and small twigs to collect in a vase. They will love to surprise you with their nature-inspired creations.

Create your own entertainment

Older children who generally get along well (and will not quarrel throughout the exercise, which makes it less useful) can enjoy staging their own performance. This can be decoration first, then creating a short scene with paper bag dolls, playing Thanksgiving bingo, or participating in an extended Mad Libs round. Their own talent show could have consisted of making “tickets” and “selling” them to guests, introducing each other as real hosts, and then offering a compendium of free gymnastics, karate, and dance “skills” for your viewing pleasure (and comic relief). ).

Put on a parade (or movie)

Add variety to the usual cavalcade of their favorite Macy’s Thanksgiving parade shows. The world’s largest parade, which has been gaining momentum since 1924, will feature Ada Twist, the scientist; Grogu; while Pikachu and Eevee are 95 years old, some of them as tall as a four-story building. The performers include Andy Grammer, Kelly Rowland, Rob Thomas and – did we see it right? – Foreigner. In addition to floats and performers, there will be marching bands, balloons, clowns and more. Watch this holiday tradition on NBC from 9:00 am to noon in all time zones.

Also? It was too early until Thanksgiving, but now it isn’t: when all else fails, launch How the Grinch Stole Christmas , Home Alone , A Christmas Story, or The Elf for a truly quiet time.

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