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10 Ways Your Kids Can Help With Thanksgiving

Kids are often more invested in events when they have a role to play or a task that makes them feel important. Make Thanksgiving extra special for your kids by getting them involved in helping with the big day, whether that’s by giving them one important task, or letting them take ownership of multiple projects. Here are some ways your kids can help with Thanksgiving:  

1. Help Plan the Menu

While you probably have an idea of what your meal will be, let your child pick a side dish or dessert, and have them come up with a creative name for it. They’ll feel proud to show off their contribution!

2. Make a Grocery List 

Making a grocery list is a great lesson for children to learn about organization, measurements, and budgeting. Give them all the recipes and have them write down the ingredients grouped by item type to make shopping more efficient — like list vegetables together, baking supplies, etc — then have them add the needed quantities of items to cover the full list of recipes. Take them shopping with you and have them help gather the items and compare prices between different brands. This is also a good time to explain how sometimes cheaper isn’t better, depending on ingredients, quality, and personal preference. 

3. Help with the Cooking 

When it comes to a meal like Thanksgiving dinner, there are kitchen tasks for kids of any age! Younger children can read the recipes out loud while another child measures ingredients, roll dough, watch timers, use the cookie cutter, wash lettuce, mix, and mash! Older children can learn important cutting skills, baste the turkey, and make some dishes themselves from start to finish. Need more ideas on how to get your kids excited about cooking? Here’s an article on how to get kids involved in meal prep

4. Set the Table 

Take advantage of the special occasion to teach your children about formal table settings and dining etiquette (and what you don’t know, you can find with a quick internet search). Let them set the table, and if they are creative, have them create place cards for each guest. These can either be simple cards with just names, or personalized with original artwork. 

5. Decorate 

Let the kids decorate the table and the area where everyone will gather before and after dinner. They can collect pretty leaves and twigs from outside, make the classic handprint turkeys from construction paper, or design felt coasters for use at dinner. 

6. Curate a Playlist

Put older kids in charge of curating a playlist to create ambiance before, after, and during dinner. Have them pick a genre, or a medley of everyone’s favorite songs, or songs that make them think of each dinner attendee! If the tunes should inspire an after-dinner dance party, that’s a great way to help with digestion and keep everyone from falling into the dreaded food coma. 

7. Play Host 

If you are having guests, ask your kids to play host! Have them answer the door, welcome guests, take their coats and bags, and offer appetizers and beverages. This is a great way for kids to work on their social skills in a comfortable and supportive setting. 

8. Create a Gratitude Jar

Let your kids decorate a box or mason jar and hand out scraps of paper and pens for everyone to write down what they are grateful for this year. After dinner, they can read them out loud and try to guess who wrote what! It’s also fun to transcribe the notes in a journal to review during future Thanksgiving gatherings to see how what’s changed — it’s sweet to see how your children’s thoughts grow and mature through the years!

9. Pick a Charitable Activity

Have everyone write down something the family can do to help others, such as volunteering, donating canned goods, sponsoring a family, donating toys or clothing, or running errands for an elderly neighbor. Let the children decide what the activity will be and do it together as a family. While volunteering in-person his year may be more challenging due to the pandemic, here are 5 places in San Diego where kids and teens can make a difference by volunteering. 

10. Plan the Entertainment 

While spending quality time and sharing a special meal is the point of the day, let your kids play cruise director and plan what else you’ll do besides eat. Maybe they’ll write and perform a play, or gather everyone for a game of touch football, or pick a film to have a family movie night while everyone unwinds after dinner. Whatever they choose, it’s sure to help make the holiday memorable!

For more parenting tips, check out our resources on

CATEGORIES: Healthy LifestylesParenting


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