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5 Fun Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Sandwiched between Halloween costumes and Christmas trees, Thanksgiving Day can get lost in the bustle of the holiday season.

Kids especially tend to neglect it because without the lure of sweet treats or pretty presents, Thanksgiving can be hard to find exciting.

So how do you get kids involved in Thanksgiving? Let them in on the action by planning activities with a hands-on approach. They will feel special and learn about the importance of the day in the process.


Volunteer in the Community

It is important to teach kids that Thanksgiving is about more than eating turkey, watching a parade and cheering on favorite teams. It is about showing appreciation for the people and things around them.

Volunteering is a great way to do this and give back to your community. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, collect can goods to donate to a local shelter. Then, on the big day, take kids to serve lunch at a soup kitchen. They will be able to share about the experience while eating their own Thanksgiving dinner.


Thanksgiving Crafts

An easy way to get kids involved in Thanksgiving preparation is to let them do an art project that teaches about the holiday.

As an added bonus, have the finished pieces play a starring role in Thanksgiving Day activities. Here are some ideas:

Homemade Thanksgiving cards expressing thankfulness to share with visiting relatives

Simple table centerpieces made from paper turkeys or painted pumpkins

Special costumes (pilgrims, Indians, even food) made especially for Thanksgiving Day.


Express Thanks

Have kids write a gratitude journal in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. This will allow them to think about the meaning of the holiday and what they are fortunate to have.

Encourage children to identify people and things they are thankful for in their own special way. Done sincerely, the result creates a sweet memory at the family dinner table, one that you can repeat year after year.


Perform a Thanksgiving Skit

Whether they perform as a group in the classroom or in a smaller entourage at home, have the kids reenact a Thanksgiving skit.

A few weeks before, go over the story of the first Thanksgiving, help kids come up a short skit to perform and give them plenty of time to practice for the big debut.


Help Prepare the Thanksgiving Feast

As you go about preparing your Thanksgiving feast, let kids assist you in the kitchen.

The dishes may take a bit longer to prepare and may turn out less than perfect, but think about how proud your children will be to see others enjoying food they took part in making.

Choose a traditional dish--or find a new one--that is simple and kid-friendly. Kids can also help in these ways:

Wash vegetables for salads or potatoes for sweet potato pie.

Stir in premeasured ingredients for casseroles and soups.

Decorate cakes, cookies and other baked goods.

Find more party planning inspirations for Thanksgiving

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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