Whether you're celebrating with family and friends, or keeping it small this year - we've got Thanksgiving ideas for the whole family! We know how challenging it can be to keep our little ones busy and entertained, out from under our feet, and away from the bustling kitchen and hot oven during the holiday festivities. That's why we've compiled our Top 5 favorite activities here where you can find them all in one place during your Thanksgiving day celebration!
1) Family Stories
Did you know that November is Family Stories Month? What better time than Thanksgiving to learn great stories about your own family history! Take a closer look at your family tree by asking family members about where they came from, childhood traditions, favorite Thanksgiving memories, and more!
This is our opportunity for little ones to get to know their family better while keeping them entertained before or after the meal. Help your little ones think about questions and conversation starters to ask their grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and/or cousins. Some great ones to start with are: How did your grandparents meet? What was your mom’s favorite game to play as a child? Little ones and grown ups will get to learn new information about their family members and get a better sense of their own family history.
NOTE: This is a great time to bring out the old picture albums!
2) 10 Things I'm Thankful For
Thanksgiving is all about being with those we love and expressing our thankfulness. This Thanksgiving, take the time to teach little ones the importance of giving back and appreciating the good things in life with a special card to remember the occasion. These homemade Thanksgiving cards are extra personal because our little ones trace their own hand, and write what they are thankful for on each of their fingers! Then, when the card is opened, it’ll look like the hands are making a heart in the middle! Have your little one do this before the meal, so after the meal, they can give it to a family member. Your family will treasure this special gift and expression of your little one’s love for years to come!
NOTE: Depending on the age of the little ones, they may need some help from an adult when writing and using scissors.
3) Placemat Coloring
We've all been there. That moment when we've just drizzled our plate with gravy and we’re finally about to dig in and that’s when the little ones reach a unanimous decision: Dinner is over. Avoid this all too common scenario by providing coloring place mats for the little ones in your life. We might not have a leisurely meal, but this activity for little ones—designed to be done at the table—should, at the very least, give grown-up guests a chance to clean their plates.
NOTE: Instead of a tablecloth this year, try using butcher paper! This way the little ones can color right on the tablecloth.
4) Gratitude Pick-Up Sticks
After that big Thanksgiving meal, a fun and active game is the perfect way to keep little ones (and grown ups) from falling into a turkey coma. Get your little ones off the couch with a game of Gratitude Pick-Up Sticks!
Just like the classic Pick-up sticks rules, you hold all of the sticks in your hand and drop them to the ground. Then each player takes a turn pulling a stick from the pile. The Thanksgiving twist is that for every stick picked up, we have to name something we’re grateful for. It’s a playful way to get little ones (and grown ups) to express their gratitude and appreciation this holiday season. Just like the normal game, players cannot make any other stick move or they lose their turn and do not get to keep the stick. The player with the most sticks at the end wins (and has expressed the most thanks)! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this game turns friendly competition into a way to spread love, appreciation, and thankfulness with the whole family!
5) Fall Leaves Wreath
This is a craft that we will love just as much as the little ones! Perfect activity to include in an after Thanksgiving meal walk: explore the outdoors and collect beautiful fall leaves to create a custom Fall wreath that you can hang on your door. Once the leaves are collected, just glue them on! It's a great way to spend some quality time together getting ready for the holiday. And it will make the perfect festive addition to your front door or as an decoration on your table.
NOTE: Keep little ones busy longer by having them search for specific leaf colors and shapes!
So, when your little one(s) get fussy, whiny or bored this Thanksgiving, take a beat and remember all of the joy they add to our lives all year long. Here's to a Happy Thanksgiving, with minimal meltdowns!