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.