Kids just want to have fun at Thanksgiving too. And if you have to make room by putting them at a separate table, make the kids’ table special.
Some kids love to have their own table at Thanksgiving, and sometimes, it makes them feel left out. You can make any child who comes to your Thanksgiving celebration feel extra special with a few touches that make the kids’ table a fun time and great memory. Our ideas also can make the long Thanksgiving meal a little more relaxing for all of the adult guests.
Make place settings special. Either go ahead and give kids the same royal treatment as the adults, or decorate with child-friendly tableware to make their table bright and fun. You can’t go overboard with theme when it comes to younger kids. Purchase themed paper plates, cups and napkins and make or buy a fun centerpiece.
Give them a name. Adults may prefer to choose their own seats, but kids often like place cards, especially if they can make their own or take them home as keepsakes. Ideas? Turkey legs made from paper bags and card stock, painted stones with glued-on pasta letters, small painted clay pots turned upside down to look like a pilgrim hat. Or turn a disposable cup upside down and create a “brim” out of black paper to set around the bottom. The cup also will have the child’s name on it to avoid drink confusion throughout the day or evening.
Give each kid a treat. A party favor Thanksgiving style is all kids need to feel welcome. You can make a cornucopia out of a waffle cone by placing the pointed end in warm water for about 20 seconds. Then place it the microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds and as soon as you take it out, wrap the end of the cone around a pen or pencil until it begins to harden. Fill it with plenty of nuts, candy corns, stickers or coins.
Make it to scale. Try to use a table and chairs that fits kids better so they can reach all of the food.
Give the kids something to do. Instead of a tablecloth, line the kid’s table with butcher paper and let them go to work making their own Thanksgiving decorations and memories. Supply crayons or colored pencils in Thanksgiving-themed mason jars or plastic cups made to look like pilgrims’ hats. For older kids, make up cards for each child to print what they’re thankful for on one side. Each child has to guess the writer’s name after cards are mixed up.
Use a kid-fun dessert as décor. Why not make a cupcake tower of frosted pumpkin cupcakes? Use orange frosting on your favorite cupcake and the end of a pretzel in top as a stick. The kids can dive in once they’re done eating. Or make healthy food more fun. Shape cut-up vegetables to look like a turkey, using radishes, pickles, olives, carrots and celery. Cut small pieces for eyes or a nose.
Bring the outside in. Let the kids get outside to play before eating and they’re more likely to calm down when they hit the table. Have them gather leaves to use as decorations, or twigs to make a natural centerpiece. Have each child gather pine cones that they’ll decorate to turn into a turkey. All you need are a few googly eyes, some glue, paper or felt for a beak, and strips of autumn colored card stock the kids can cut to make feathers. They can write what they’re thankful for, along with their name, on the feathers.
Get your own kids involved. Have your kids, or young guests from out of town, help decorate the table and create the centerpiece. Let the kids make one that’s just for them, or start a new tradition with a strip of plain burlap and some tempera paint. Each child present this year dips his or her hands in paint and makes a handprint on the runner, and one of them writes the year. Next year, you do the same, and soon your runner is full of color and memories!
Listen In for More ideas for the Kids’ Table: