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How To Involve Kids In Thanksgiving Prep

November 6, 2018
How To Involve Kids In Thanksgiving Prep

Hosting Thanksgiving involves several days of cooking, cleaning, and organizing to pull off that casual “it was no trouble at all” appearance. But why should you be the only one checking off that multipage to-do list? Get the kids involved! There are numerous Thanksgiving activities for toddlers and kids to lighten your load. After all, Thanksgiving is a holiday about family.

Thanksgiving Decorations, With A Twist

Looking for a Thanksgiving activity for kids that keeps them busy? Let their creativity flow by giving them the task to make unique place cards to match each guest’s personality. Or send them outside to gather a variety of branches, acorns, pine cones and colorful leaves for a “forest-to-table” centerpiece. At home, let your children create an abstract work of art for your table.

Thanksgiving activities for toddlers are a bit more tricky, but not impossible. A handmade “tablecloth” will keep your toddler busy and serve as a great conversation starter. Roll out enough butcher board paper to cover the length of your table, hand your toddler a box of crayons or washable markers, and put them to work while you cook.

Everybody Brings A Dish, Including Your Kids

Hosting a potluck Thanksgiving? Your kids can join in! There are many easy Thanksgiving recipes, and what you choose all depends on age. A great Thanksgiving project for toddlers is to put them on “mashing” duty. There are regular or sweet potatoes, apples for applesauce, and even cranberries if you prefer a smoother consistency. But first, designate your largest bowl as the official “mashing bowl” and only mash half at a time – the kids aren’t helping if you have to clean the walls!

For older kids, encourage them to select an easy Thanksgiving recipe and add their own flair to a dish. For example, they could include their favorite fruit in a cranberry sauce, serve their mashed potatoes with their favorite cheeses as toppings, or build their very own hors d’oeuvre platter.

Create A Memory Book

If you’d like to create a Thanksgiving activity for the family, consider starting a new tradition. Instead of saying what you’re thankful for during the meal, create a memory book. Set aside time before Thursday for your family to create the pages – you’ll need a package of construction paper, several scissors, glue, and some markers. Each family member should decorate several pages for the book, guaranteeing there will be enough for every person at the table, plus extra to write memorable stories and paste pictures from the day.

As guests arrive, ask them to write down what they are thankful for on a pre-decorated piece of paper. Once complete, collect the pages and either staple them together or punch several holes down the side and tie with a ribbon. After the meal, a family member should write down any memorable moments. Later, print pictures from the day and add them to the empty pages at the end.

Make The Perfect Thanksgiving Desserts For Kids

Little hands were made for turkey-shaped decorations, including cookies. They’re a fun addition to the traditional apple, pumpkin, or pecan pie. Plus, this easy Thanksgiving recipe is a great activity for toddlers and kids.


  • Sugar cookie dough (homemade or store-bought)
  • Royal icing (homemade or store-bought)
  • Brown, black, and red food coloring
  • Small, colorful candies, sprinkles, or edible glitter
  • Cardstock paper

Trace your kids’ hands onto pieces of cardstock and cut them out. Roll out your cookie dough and use the cut-out hands as a guide. Place the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake according to directions.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, cover each one with brown icing, then decorate! The thumb will serve as the turkey’s head. Place a dot of black icing for the nose and a small sliver of red icing for the wattle. Sprinkle candies, sprinkles, or glitter across the other fingers for multicolored feathers. At the bottom of the palm, draw the legs and feet with black icing. To personalize them, write each guest’s name or initials in the center.

Clean Up

Need some help with the dishes, too? Place your pots and pans in the tub, add your kids and a couple of sponges. Then, let your personal dishwashers get to work while you snooze off that turkey — you deserve it!

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