As you spend hours in the kitchen basting the turkey and mashing potatoes, keep the kids busy with some Thanksgiving-themed activities, that will give them special ownership of the day. Use the down time in between cooking, preparing and watching the parades and football to give your child some tangible gratitude opportunities.
Set out a stack of holiday cards, stickers and pens. Talk with kids about community members, family members and others who serve them selflessly. This may include military service members, firefighters, policemen, teachers and others. Use specific examples, such as the stitches your child received, to help him feel grateful for specific people, such as the doctors and nurses. Help the kids write thank you notes. Place a stamp on each one and stack them up to send the next day. For a more personal touch, have everyone choose a name of someone coming to dinner. Have them write a card outlining specific things they like about them and are thankful for about them. Tuck each note inside an envelope and use the envelopes as place cards at dinner.
Help in the Kitchen
If you kids love to help, you may find it easier to give them a specific chore, rather than simply to shoo them from the kitchen. While you are planning your meal preparations, make room for the kids in the process. Have them crumble bread crumbs or mix salads if they are still younger. Older kids may able to pour pumpkin pie into the crusts or even chop vegetables. Instead of trying to come up with ideas at the last second, work their participation into your process. You might want them there in the beginning to do some preparation. Then ask them to leave and find something else to do. If you and they know ahead of time what you need their help with, they will feel like invaluable members of the family and you won’t feel stressed trying to find them a job amid the chaos.
While moms are busy working on the meal, dads are watching football and relatives are catching up, kids can start planning a little skit or show for the family. Provide the kids with a trunk full of dress-up options. They may choose to give an historical presentation about what they have learned in school or a skit about their gratitude. They might put together a song and dance about everything they are thankful for.