Thanksgiving is a day of thanks. We're thankful for the roof over our heads, the friends and family in our lives, and for our good health. It's a time to be surrounded by loved ones and a whole lot of traditional Thanksgiving food.
For families hosting Thanksgiving, there is typically a lot that goes into planning. From the menu to decorations to table settings — everyone's holiday deserves to be special and it's the host's job to create that. With so much to do, it's helpful when the entire family can pitch in. This can be a challenge if a family has younger kids, however, because cooking and meal-preparing can sometimes be intensive or dangerous. And since Thanksgiving night revolves around eating, what else can kids do to contribute?
Keep scrolling to learn 10 ways your kids can feel special this Thanksgiving by helping out.
10 COLLECT CANNED GOODS TO GIVE BACK TO THOSE IN NEED
As a way to implement the meaning of Thanksgiving, parents can really drive home the theme of Thanksgiving by giving back. Have your kids go through all their clothes and toys and make a pile of everything they'd like to donate to those less fortunate.
If toys and clothes aren't an option, you can always find a local can drive. Go through those cupboards and donate anything you haven't used or ask your kids to go shopping with you to grab food for donations. This is a hands-on way of showing what giving back is all about.
9 HELP CREATE A MEMORABLE TABLE
You can check out any Instagram and Pinterest page to note how many people love creating an aesthetically pleasing Thanksgiving table. While the food is typically beautiful enough, adding candles, colored napkins, and different fall-themed decorations can really set the tone. But since mom and dad have too much on their plate to focus on table settings, ask your little one to decorate the table.
Have them draw up a vision and show them ways to make that vision come to life. Whether that's making their own decorations (see below) or making it simple, this can make a child feel proud and useful.
8 MAKE FALL ART FOR DECORATIONS
Creating DIY fall crafts is such a fun and easy thing to do. There are thousands of blogs out there showing how easy it is to turn a pumpkin into a turkey or even a handprint into a turkey.
What's even more festive is going outside and telling your little one to find beautiful colored leaves. You can press the leaves in a book overnight so that they're flat enough to spread out on the table or your kids can trace the leaves on to paper, creating their own leaf decor.
7 LET THEM HELP CREATE THE MENU
The beautiful thing about Thanksgiving is how unique it is for every family. While most families' dinners revolve around a turkey, there are different side dishes that really make the dinner special.
While mom and dad may already know what they want on their Thanksgiving Day menu, ask your kids what they would like to have and have them contribute that way. Ask them what they'd like to see more of on the table and what they like most about the family menu.
6 AND THEN GO SHOPPING FOR INGREDIENTS TOGETHER
While the Thanksgiving grocery bill is typically a pricey one, it can be made into a fun experience with your kids. Give each kid a list and go through every aisle until everyone grabbed each item on their list. This can even be made into a competitive game if your kids are old enough.
For most kids, seeing all their ingredients in the cart can show independence and an understanding of what goes into this special day of thanks.
5 LET THEM HAVE THEIR OWN CUSTOM DISH!
This idea is perfect for a child of any age over three or four. Help them go through a list of recipes (pictures really help them since not many kids know what oregano or the like is) and have them choose the one they want most.
Give the recipe a new name, like "Lily's Famous Pumpkin Pie" or "Ben's Mighty Mac and Cheese" and help them create it. This can become an adorable tradition where each dish has a new name and inspiration after someone in the family. It can also make a child feel special knowing they have a dish with their own name attached to it.
4 HOSTING THE PARTY
Hosting a Thanksgiving party is hard work. Not only are the hosts supposed to be the ones cooking everything (most relatives and friends bring side dishes, of course), but they also have to entertain! It can be hard to stay in the kitchen while also making sure everyone is having a good time.
Train your kids to do the hosting while you're preparing the food. Tell them they're in charge of greeting, putting away the guests' coats, taking care of the music, and showing them where the drinks and snacks are. While some kids may complain or not take this job seriously, other kids are happy to help.
3 WISHBONE WISHES
Finding the wishbone in a turkey is a fun tradition many families do. Traditionally, after finding the wishbone, you wait a day or two until it's dried out. Then, two people link their pinkies around the bone while making wishes.
Both people pull at the wishbone and the person with the biggest bone has their wish come true. While this can still be done at any Thanksgiving table, another good idea is whoever finds the wishbone gets to have dessert first, pick the next vacation destination, etc... They
2 AN INGREDIENT SCAVENGER HUNT FOR OLDER KIDS
After you grocery shop for Thanksgiving, it can be hard to find a place in the cabinets or fridge for it all! Not to mention, getting everything back out when you're ready to cook or bake again.
Instead of digging through everything to find it all, have your kids help. Read the recipe aloud and have them go on a scavenger hunt throughout the kitchen to find each ingredient. This can be a tricky kind of fun when it comes to spices! If you have more than one child, this can turn into a fun competition!
1 MAKE CLEAN-UP FUN
Thankfully, most guests will offer to help clean up after Thanksgiving or at least load the dishwasher (thank God for dishwashers!). Another way to have your kids contribute is by cleaning up.
Give them restaurant-like orders and ask them to grab each thing in order. "Grab every plate you see on that table," or "If there's any food left out, please grab it and put it away in Tupperware." This can be, of course, turned into a game to make it fun but it's just a great way to have everyone chip in and help after a long day.