Thanksgiving is an important holiday for many reasons, but for your kids, it may just look like a boring get-together with extended family members. Fortunately, you can do things to make Thanksgiving fun for your kids without forgetting the reason behind it. You can even take the opportunity to help your kids appreciate the good things in life.
Explain the History behind It
Before you start teaching them how to make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, you should talk to your kids about the history behind this holiday. The celebration of Thanksgiving Day marks a wonderful opportunity to discuss how people from different backgrounds and cultures can come together and help each other. The original story of the starving Pilgrims and the generous Native Americans may even have special meaning for your family.
Make a Thanksgiving Craft
Kids love crafts, because it allows them to get creative. There is one very basic Thanksgiving craft that can become your annual tradition and serve as a keepsake at the same time. Drawing and coloring a turkey using the outstretched hand of your child is an easy way for even the least artistically inclined to create a beautiful picture.
You can let your kids decide whether they want to use crayons, pencils, markers, paint, or glitter to decorate the turkey. You’ll have to draw the hand for young kids, but even a 3-year-old can color the turkey on their own. And if you remember to label and date these pictures, you can get them out for next year’s Thanksgiving and compare it to their newest masterpiece.
As adults, we realize how lucky we are to live in comfortable homes and have plenty of food to eat. But when daily stresses keep you occupied, it’s easy to forget that others have bigger problems than you. Thanksgiving Day is a great time to reset and reflect on your blessings. It’s also a great way to teach the kids to appreciate what they have.
Kids may be afflicted with wanting what others have and envying someone else. That’s perfectly natural and age-appropriate. But it’s still a good idea to encourage them to think about the things they can be thankful for. A wonderful tradition is to ask everyone at the table what they’re thankful for. You can even make a list and post it on your refrigerator as a reminder for the rest of the year. With older kids, you can take this to the next level and encourage them to count their blessings on a daily basis.
Share & Donate
Thanksgiving is a great time to spend some time serving the less fortunate. You might not want to take younger kids to a soup kitchen, but they can certainly help you find items to donate to families in need. They may even go through some of their toys and donate the ones that they have outgrown. If you take them with you to drop off these items, they will learn a powerful lesson about giving.
Another way to spread the goodwill that shows up during the holidays is to spread some joy by doing a good deed every day. These deeds don’t have to be big. It could be opening the door for someone or picking up something that was dropped. Your children will learn by example, so you must show them how to spread kindness in the world by doing this yourself.
Invite Them to Make Dinner with You
The biggest part of Thanksgiving is preparing Thanksgiving dinner. This is a great opportunity to raise little helpers. Younger kids can help you stir the mashed potatoes, bigger kids can read the recipe and measure out the ingredients for you. The act of making food is a wonderful shared activity, because your kids will see the results themselves. And how gratifying is it when Grandma comments on how delicious the stuffing is this year when you’ve had a hand in making it?
Spend Time with Family
Thanksgiving Day is about spending time with the ones you care about. For children, those people are usually made up of their immediate and extended family members. It might be a good idea to turn off the TV and get out some board games, allowing your children to interact with the family members they don’t see every day. But don’t forget to let them help with food preparation and cleanup. It will make them feel useful, which is a nice feeling when you’re shorter than everyone else.