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How to Make the Kids’ Table at Thanksgiving Actually Kid-Friendly

Help your antsy kids or picky eaters stay occupied during Thanksgiving dinner with these genius ideas.

4 min read

Thanksgiving with kids can be a tough holiday. Exposure to foods they aren’t used to, sectioned off at a table with other children they might not know, and expectations of very good behavior for an extended period of time can all contribute to a stressful environment. Here are a few tips for making the kids’ table the best seat in the house (and turning you into the holiday hero won’t hurt, either).

Thanksgiving with kids

Busy Hands Are Happy Hands

If your children are anything like mine, meals are usually anything but relaxing. More often, they go like this: take a bite, run around the house three times, poke a sibling in the face, repeat. On Thanksgiving Day, why not set out a few activities to make sure there’s less poking, and more fun? A quick internet search brings up hundreds of free Thanksgiving coloring pages—just find a printer, a handful of crayons, and you’re set. Or how about a Thankful tree? Stick a few kid-sized tree branches in a vase and have the children write what they’re thankful for on a little paper leaf. Hang the leaves from the tree and your kids table centerpiece is all ready to go.

Another fun idea is a paper tablecloth, so they can doodle on the table during the meal. It’s all about those hand turkeys! As a bonus, it makes for super easy cleanup.

Tiny pumpkins are also a perfect blank slate for a sweet Thanksgiving craft. My favorite is decorating them with stickers—no markers, no carving, no mess. Busy little hands are happy little hands and will let you focus on other things.

Deconstruct the Meal

Children often like their meals distilled down to their simplest parts, and not even the magic of Thanksgiving changes that. For example: instead of feeding them a bite of turkey dipped in mashed potatoes and topped off with cranberry sauce and gravy, your child might prefer each part of the meal separated into its own space. A Divided Plate is perfect for portioning out the feast for picky little eaters. (Eventually they’ll realize the wonders of pouring gravy on every Thanksgiving food in sight.)

Tantrum-Proof, Spill-Proof

The OXO Tot Stick & Stay Suction Bowl and Plate are specifically designed to keep your lovingly crafted food on the table and off the floor. No tipping or tossing here, which means no mid-meal cleaning for you. Not even the prospect of overturned drinks will stop you this Thanksgiving—the Soft Spout Training Cup Set keeps a lid on spills until the child is old enough to drink from the open cup.

For those who have successfully survived Thanksgiving with a kids’ table full of little ones, what’s worked for you? Any tips or tricks that helped you keep holiday spirit alive (and helped you keep your sanity, too)?Need more Thanksgiving help? Check out this guide to Thanksgiving cooking tools, plus how to fit everything in your oven!

Happy feasting!


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