In the hustle and bustle of preparation that marks so many holidays, it's sometimes difficult to keep the whole family involved in what is intended to be a family celebration. When Thanksgiving rolls around this year, a little forethought and planning can help each family member have Thanksgiving fun.
1. Start the day right
Have your kids write out thank you notes to each of their siblings the night before and leave them at each person's table-setting for breakfast. Include your own thank you notes to each child.
2. Involve everyone in the Thanksgiving meal preparation
Young children love being part of the preparation, so let them help. Older kids may be more enthusiastic about participating if they can help with the actual planning of the Thanksgiving menu.
3. Make Thanksgiving table decorations
Choose a simple table decoration that everyone can help make. Even the youngest children can add to the Thanksgiving decorations by making a gaggle of table turkeys.
Double-Stuff Oreo cookies
• Take the top off a cookie. The side with the icing will be your turkey base. Eat the other side or save it for baking a cookie pie-crust later.
• Take a second cookie and stand it up near the back of the first cookie, pressing it into the icing so that it stands upright.
• Push a chocolate-covered raisin (the turkey's head) into the icing just in front of the standing cookie.
• Press candy-coated licorice into the icing at the top of the standing cookie to create the turkey's plumage.
4. Encourage kids to play games and activities
If you're busy with dinner preparations, arrange for an older child to organize and run the activities for younger children. Hide a stuffed animal that looks like a turkey and have a "Turkey Search." The Internet is a great source of word searches, colouring pages and activities with a Thanksgiving theme.
5. Set the stage
Do you have a young, aspiring screenwriter in the family? Ask your little one to write a skit about the meaning of Thanksgiving (or about the first Thanksgiving); have her cast the rest of the children to star in it. Be sure someone brings a camera or video recorder to capture the event.
6. Create some quiet time
Time to settle down a rowdy crowd? Try a good family movie, like "A Walton's Thanksgiving Reunion" (1993) or "The Thanksgiving Promise" (1986). Or have an older child read a favourite Thanksgiving or harvest story aloud. Our personal family favourites include Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit (Scholastic, 2002), by Norman Bridwell and Thanksgiving Day in Canada by Krys Val Lewicki, (Napoleon Publishing/Rendezvous Press, 1993).
7. Share the Thanksgiving spirit
For a different spin on this traditional holiday, consider volunteering family time at a shelter or inviting another neighbourhood family to dinner.