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Thanksgiving – Fun and Simple

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
November 25, 2008
File under: holidays


The turkey is in the oven. The guests have arrived. And the table is set. Now, what activities can you plan to make sure your little ones enjoy the family that has traveled to spend time with them and everyone experiences some of the reverence of the day?

Keep it simple. Football aside, there are lots of options to busy them inside if the weather is less-than-inviting outside (or if it’s just too cozy to leave the inside). Board games like Earthopoly (ages 8 and up) and familiar choices such as Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit can busy a crowd for hours. Or, have family members help play Family Trivia, or tell group stories about how Grandpa snuck a horse-drawn wagon into the town church. Then, there are family movies. Bring on the popcorn.

The great outdoors offers a change of scenery and a natural place to let off some steam. A leisurely hike, family flag football or a generous bonfire will warm you from the inside, out. (Before alighting anything, be sure to check with your local fire department, first.) Many towns have Thanksgiving Day fun runs/walks to get you moving, too. And for the much-more-ambitious-than-me, this could be a great way to start your day. Whatever you do, do what feels like it keeps you centered and focused on what matters most. Keep in mind what Thanksgiving means to you and what you want to convey to your children. Teaching them to give thanks for all we have, no matter how little, is a gift they will share with their families. Remembering that is your gift to yourself.

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Busy the Kids while You Buff Out the Bird

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos
November 21, 2008
File under: holidays

kids holiday

Thanksgiving would be an ambitious dinner party, if it weren’t for the addition of families traveling and generations joining in the fun. Kids are among the greatest gifts for which we can be thankful. (Of course, that has slipped my mind when my toddler poked his fingers into a rolled-and-ready piecrust.) Keep your cool, and keep the spirit of the holiday in mind, as you plan activities to keep your little ones nearby—and safely out of the pie.

If your children like to cook, set aside or add a few recipes in which they can lend a hand. Perhaps they can add pre-measured ingredients to a casserole, or stir butter into mashed potatoes. They can rinse vegetables and even help “wash up” measuring spoons and bowls in a tub of warm, soapy water. Plan ahead, and witness how proud they’ll feel of their contributions to the meal.

Once the turkey’s in the oven, they (and you) might be itching for a bit of fresh air. If you’re busy, ask a family member to lead the way. Take a walk and ask your pilgrims or young braves to collect fallen leaves, pinecones, acorns, chestnuts—whatever your surroundings offer—and bring them inside to help decorate the holiday table. Set one at each seat as a place setting.

For quieter diversions, the sky’s the limit. A bit of preparation on your part will earn you plenty of time for your children to create, color and craft. Visit one of a cornucopia of Web sites that are brimming with printable crafts, decorations, coloring pages, mazes and games, like Thanksgiving Day Bingo. Just set aside a place close to the action, but not underfoot, where they can work and play. That way, they’ll feel like they’re with you—even if only in holiday spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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