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 11, 2011

Thanksgiving: Making It Fun For the Kids

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. Creativity is a must as these families grow! We too do major room rearranging to keep us together.

    We've done dress up (not quite as elaborate as yours) and for years the girls dressed up the American Girl dolls and set them an elaborate feast at their own table. Now we have 2 littles again and they worry about the safety of their most precious doll dishes and furniture.

    Now, my oldest daughter brings the craft and helps the youngers to design them for the table.

    I LOVE Thanksgiving!

    ~~Debbie ('')

  2. Cheryl, you have done it again! What wonderful ideas for making Thanksgiving special for children, including children with the adults is the best idea, we incorporate adults and children too, they always feel special when they are included. I like the idea of them dressing up as pilgrims, our two younger granddaughters love to play hostesses at Christmas, we dress them real fancy, and let them play hostess, the family loves it and so do they. They also read the Christmas story and lead in prayer. I will miss this special time this year, as they will not be here for Christmas.
    I have been so blessed over the past few weeks getting to know you better, and what a joy to find someone who has such great family values, so inspiring to me.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Yes , we have been so busy, what I like about GTC is, Leah left it up to us to post at will, no pressure to do a daily post, though I wanted to.

    Read your post on the Thanksgiving Mice, and enjoyed it so much, they are adorable, hope you find one.

    I apologize for writing such a long letter.

  3. Those are all great suggestions Cheryl! I'm having Thanksgiving at my house this year so your ideas will come in handy!! Love your Thanksgiving mice ~ so cute!!

  4. Great thoughts about how to include the kids!

    We are able to all sit at one table at this point (our table seats twelve!) though we have used a table in the living room when we had a family of twelve over for a meal! Luckily, our kitchen and living room are all open and we were all together.


  5. This is awesome - thanks for the idea! I am stopping over from the Homeschool Blog Awards – saw your nominations and wanted to check out some new blogs =-) If you have an Christmas baking coming up I’d love for you to link it up to my Holiday Baking Linky – – I am your newest follower. I’d love for you to follow me back, if you want to!


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