As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving and Kids

Right now, I am all about Thanksgiving. I am thinking about table settings and place cards and food and guests and music and I love it all! Today, I thought that I'd repost our ideas about making Thanksgiving fun and meaningful for children. (Originally posted in 2011.)

Thinking about the Thanksgiving mice has me thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving with children. 

I find it rather easy to please the adults.  Serve a bounty of food, keep the coffee hot and the desserts aplenty, and we're good to go, eating and chatting for hours on end.  

Kids, on the other hand, can eat what they want from the Thanksgiving feast in about five minutes, and they don't seem to want to listen to the rest of us chat for hours on end.  So we try to find ways to make the day meaningful and fun for them too.  Here are some of the things we have tried.

L-Rson Ryan (8), nephew Andrew (5), niece Amy (7), daughter Kristin (10)

Dress up.
The photo above is from the archives.  Thanksgiving 1990.  Our two oldest children and my niece and nephew dressed as pilgrim and Indians to respresent those at the first Thanksgiving.   

We have never had such deluxe costumes since then, but my mom found some really cute Pilgrim lady hats and Pilgrim man collars made of cardstock a few years ago.  (Unfortunately, I must have been too busy preparing the meal to take any pictures.) 

Arrange seating to include the children.
At one time, the four in the above picture were content to sit at a "children's table," but that changed as they grew older.  We puzzled over how to include them when there were only so many seats in the dining room, until one year when someone had the idea to move both tables into our large-ish farmhouse kitchen.  Then we were all in the same room, no one felt left out, and we mixed up the seating from year to year.  Sometimes, we would have everyone draw numbers to see where he or she would sit.  Sometimes I designed the seating plan, and we made placecards to mark each person's spot at the table. 

The big kink in this plan:  Someone(s) has to move all the furniture.  (And move it back.)  This fact has threatened to nix the plan on several occasions, but so far, we have always had folks who wanted it this way badly enough to do the grunt work.

Ron and Kati doing the grunt work

Yes, we are a family who goes to extremes.

You don't have to rearrange entire rooms.  But do try to find a way to make the children feel included at your Thanksgiving dinner.

By the way, this year, although we will have both tables in the kitchen again, the children want to sit together, so I'm planning a special kids' table.  Fun!

Plan some activities for the kiddos. 
Our dining room becomes a sitting room/playroom, but you could devote a corner of your family room or living room to some kid play. 
  • We bring in the basket of Duplos. 
  • When we had a Little Tykes kitchen, the kids cooked a pretend Thanksgiving dinner, complete with Kleenex mashed potatoes. 
  • We set a small table with crayons, coloring pages (like ~these~), stickers, Thanksgiving stencils, and lots of paper.   
    "What do I do first?"

  • Sometimes, we'll plan a Thanksgiving craft.  Check out your local library for a book of simple seasonal ideas.
  • I display posters of the Mayflower and Plimouth Plantation.

  • I set up "Pin the Tail on the Turkey" for the kids (and adults sometimes!) to play.  I bought mine at Target's dollar section a few years ago.  (You can buy one ~here~.  Or draw your turkey and a few hats, if you're a bit artistic.)
  • Speaking of drawing, you may want to try to draw a turkey using my friend Kim's instructions.  Click ~here~.  I think I can do this! 
  • Of course, the Thanksgiving mice are around. 

Playing with the Pilgrim mice

Getting a check-up before dinner

Everyone, kids included, will join their voices in singing a Thanksgiving hymn (Bekah will accompany us), and we'll all record a blessing on a leaf (or two or many) for the Thankful Tree(Picture of our Thankful Tree ~here~.)

It all adds up to a kid-friendly Thanksgiving Day!


  1. Can I come to your house for Thanksgiving? :)

    We have two tables too. They are pretty close to each no moving tables. Our young people love sitting all together....I often wish I were sitting with them...they are laughing so hard.
    Your plans sound very inviting with ideas for all.
    Have a Blessed Thanksgiving....Balisha

  2. We have a few young enough we can sit them at our coffee table with ease! Now that we have benches we can fit 14 at our table. The rooms being open no one misses out!

    I love the activity ideas!


  3. Wow! You are inspiring!!
    What are kleenex mashed potatoes..BTW?
    I'm thinking fluffy?

  4. Lucy, they take a few white tissues and ball them up and put them in a toy bowl. They really do look like mashed potatoes at a glance! :)

  5. A lot of good ideas here. We started rearranging the dining room and living room to have more space and extend the table and eventually made the switch permanent so now we have a large dining room and a cozy little living room. I like the idea of kids dressing up. As a child I so loved anything to do with the pilgrim story.

  6. I'll have to bookmark this post. Right now in my life our Thanksgivings are all in the adult category but who knows what the future may hold in the world of grand children. I'm starting to think plan a early Thanksgiving since our son from Eastern Washington won't have Thanksgiving off but will travel here with his girlfriend on the 22nd. We will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal that day so I better get busy!!

  7. Karen Andreola (on Dean's computer)November 14, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    Oh, "pin the tail feathers on the turkey" sounds fun. My grandsons will like this. I'll draw a large turkey and cut out some paper feathers (that they can color for me first.)

    I read that early American homes had furniture that was often moved or transformed to fit the social function. Shaker chairs were stored along the top of the wall on pegs, round-backed benches could fold to make a small table, long drop leaf tables could seat 8 more people, etc. Your house transformation is following suit - in early American style.

  8. Some really great ideas. I love that you all rearrange furniture to seat everyone in the same room. We frequently have large groups over for dinner and have been trying to figure out how to get everyone in the same have got me thinking :-) Have a great weekend


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