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Make a Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Family Dinner

Since my family spends Thanksgiving Day scurrying to and from different places eating brunch, lunch and late lunch, we often find ourselves too tired and too stuffed for yet another meal when dinnertime comes around.

We partake in so many yummy foods and holiday favorites in a short time that it is often difficult to actually enjoy them. And, the only thanks we are giving comes in the form of a short prayer before diving in to the next dish. That is, if we even make it on time for that.

While we do appreciate the day full of places and faces to see, I decided after our first Thanksgiving spent with a child in tow to create something more laid-back for just my small family.

Now, I choose one evening a week or so before turkey day to serve a Thanksgiving-themed meal for our family supper.

Doing this gives me the chance to experiment with traditional Thanksgiving foods, giving them my own twists.

With my two girls, that often means lots of uniquely inspired variations.

Though I hope to prepare a formal feast one day, my daughters' current culinary palate's require me to become extremely creative in preparing recipes they will actually eat.

Kid-Friendly Family Thanksgiving Menu

To prove my point, this is what is on my mind for our family Thanksgiving menu this year:

turkey meatballs with some veggies mixed in

"stuffing" made by mixing croutons, apple chunks and dried cranberries

canned cranberry sauce cut into holiday shapes using cookie cutters

mashed potato sundaes served from an ice cream scoop and topped with gravy

sauce and black pepper sprinkles

sweet potato soufflé

Pea Lime cupcakes with orange-tinted frosting

some variation of pilgrim hat cookies

kid-friendly pumpkin pie milkshake

Obviously, we don't enjoy the formal Thanksgiving feast I originally imagined. I do like to think I maintain the taste and feel of a Thanksgiving meal in the process. Besides, it is the rare event that things go perfectly planned anyway.

That is okay.

What is most important--calm family time around the dinner table--does take place. Who cares if the food served is a far cry from maple-glazed turkey and grandma's infamous pumpkin pie?

We still get to celebrate the holiday with each other in our own way. We can talk about what we are grateful for and why without enduring the whining and excuses that usually accompanies holiday cuisine.

And, anytime a meal happens like that is a day of Thanksgiving for me!

More Thanksgiving Fun for the Family:

Head into the kitchen and bake up a batch of Thanksgiving cookies!

Craft inexpensive DIY mason jar candle holders for the Thanksgiving table.

Play a fun Thanksgiving game between courses. Tailor questions to fit your family!

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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