If you’re wanting to host Thanksgiving this year but don’t know what to do beyond the usual feast, there are plenty of activities for kids (and even adults!) to keep them busy. Every Thanksgiving is obviously centered around gratitude, but can occasionally get lost in all the cooking, cleaning, and prep work that goes into hosting and having family and friends over. 

Keep It Simple

Yes, you may want to host and feel obligated or even want to go all out in order to celebrate with friends and family. But at the end of the day, it’s about spending time with those you love and getting the chance to catch up on what’s going on with everyone. If you’re too busy cooking and prepping a ten-course meal, you’re going to lose out on a lot of interactions and conversations. If your main goal is to connect (and in some cases, reconnect), then make sure you’re planning a meal that won’t end up taking you away from the family and festivities. 

When you can, have your children help you prep and cook before and during Thanksgiving to give yourself a break and to spend more time with them! No matter their age, there is always something they can do, whether it’s mashing potatoes, washing dishes, setting the table, or chopping up vegetables if they are older, they can definitely make lighter work of the meal prep!

Incorporating Gratitude

Another key way to invite gratitude into your gathering is right before the feast commences. Either while you’re carving the turkey or right after, have everyone around the table say one thing they are grateful for this year. And don’t forget to ask the same thing at the children’s table! To add a different twist, you can also ask everyone what they are most grateful in looking forward to, such as an opportunity to travel more, save more, or simply be at home more. 

And to keep your children entertained, you can make gratitude hands or turkeys. Most people remember outlining their hands to represent turkeys, and you can teach the same to your children! Use a variety of markers and other items to let your children make their turkeys unique. You can also make more realistic or cartoonish turkeys out of constructions paper ahead of time, and have your children help. You can make bubble feathers and attach them to the back of the turkey body. Then, each child can write what they are grateful for on each feather (or finger, if they made a hand turkey). 

You can also have a Gratitude Pumpkin by the door. Simply buy a large pumpkin and place it chest level on a table near your home’s entrance, along with a few markers. As guests enter your home, they can also write on the pumpkin what they are grateful for this year and watch as it gets filled with words! 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Katie Kyzivat