Around here, we do our best to make sure Thanksgiving Day is as kid-friendly as possible! We like to minimize the work in order to maximize the quality time we spend together that day. This post includes a glimpse in to how we keep things simple as well as a peek at some of the Thanksgiving Day Activities we’ve done in years past with our kids. I’ve included snapshots from the past few years, and following Thanksgiving Day this year, I will update this post with even more ideas for you to pin for next year!
Let’s start with tips for keeping things simple on Thanksgiving Day:
Tip #1: We don’t usually cook an entire turkey. We typically toss a turkey breast in the Crock Pot the night before Thanksgiving, and it is perfectly yummy by lunch time on the big day. This amount of turkey usually works out perfectly for our crew, but if anyone ever comes to visit us on Thanksgiving, we’ll probably need to make more…as in two Crock Pots of turkey breasts. ha!
Tip #2: We do as much food prep as possible the day or two before Thanksgiving. I’ve already mentioned how we do the turkey, but we also assemble the green bean casserole as well as make and bake the Pumpkin Pie ahead of time. On the day of, we whip up some mashed potatoes, toss some rolls in the oven, and Bam!
Tip #3: We use paper products! Gasp! I know some may think that’s terrible, but with little bitty kiddos in the house, it works well for us to keep things as casual as possible.
Sometimes we use these cute little festive [hard plastic] plates I found on clearance one year at Tarjay…
…and sometimes we use all paper products – like these that came from Hobby Lobby*.
*Whenever I mention Hobby Lobby, know that a 40% Off Coupon is always, always involved.
Thanksgiving Day Activities
The night before Thanksgiving Day, we go ahead and set the table which includes gathering some activities for the kids and putting a few things at their place settings to keep them occupied during times when they might be waiting at the table the next day.
This reminds me of the year everyone had to wait, because I had some issues getting the mashed potatoes just right, but that story is for another time.
Having a few little crafts and activities on hand has been perfect for spending Thanksgiving Day at home with littles. My secret? I have a basket of goodies ready to go for the big day! Nothing fancy – just picture books and a few projects to engage my kids as we focus on what a special holiday Thanksgiving is for our family.
My other secret? I watch for specials following each holiday and I use those clearance items the NEXT year. For example, one year AFTER Thanksgiving, I had found this Felt Turkey Craft on final markdown at Tarjay. I bought it and put it away in my Thanksgiving Bin – ready to go for the next Thanksgiving.
My seasonal bins include books, crafts, activities, etc. all related to a specific holiday. Here’s a glimpse of a few of the picture books you’ll currently find in my Thanksgiving Bin.
Thanks for Thanksgiving: This one comes with a place to write your thankful thoughts year after year. I love our family’s growing list!
Little Owl’s Orange Scarf – Board Book Version
Seasonal Bins: I have one for Valentine’s Day, one for Easter, one for Thanksgiving, and one for Christmas. This helps me stay organized and provides me with a place to put all of my goodies (including those fantastic clearance finds) so I don’t forget about them when the time comes to enjoy them!
The felt turkey was a fun project, and this turkey was also fun to make! I’m not one for holding on to toilet paper rolls, but I held on to a couple for this activity – or maybe I cut a paper towel holder in half – I can’t remember, but the only other supplies I need were construction paper and glue. Gobble Gobble!
This activity can be extended by encouraging kids to write on each of the turkey feathers something for which they are thankful. I think we did that part…I can’t remember. I had a 3-month at the time – everything was blur…including the mashed potatoes.
While making turkeys is always fun, I think this Pumpkin Pie craft has been the biggest hit of all.
All you need to make it happen is a triangular portion of a paper plate, a handful of orange tissue paper, and a cotton ball or two.
Use glue to attach the tissue paper and cotton balls to the paper plate, and Viola! Pumpkin Pie!
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie: Paperback Available Here
Other Thanksgiving Day Activities:
Family Fingerprint Tree: We each take turns adding our fingerprints to the tree, and we talk about what a gift from God we are to each other.
Download Family Fingerprint Tree Here
We have also used the same printable for simply attaching leaves:
Scarecrow: This was made with wooden craft sticks, construction paper, and glue, and when we were done, my boys named him Goliath.
Paint Handprint: Paint around your child’s hand to create this sweet little handprint.
Leaf Rubbings & Leaf Stampings
Mosaic Pumpkin: These foam pumpkins I found on sale one year at Target have come in handy for all kinds of things, and my preschooler at the time had so much fun gluing small construction paper rectangles on to one of them. He was so proud of how this turned out when he was finished.
It was the perfect little project to pair with The Very Best Pumpkin:
Thanksgiving Day Activities: Free Printables
If your kids enjoy printables, we have LOVED this packet!
It’s includes a variety of Thanksgiving Day Activities for kids of different ages, which means I will probably reprint it again this year…and next.
Pinterest has been a great place for me to find free printables perfect for different seasons.
We’ve painted pumpkins and Pilgrims, and how cute is this Color-by-Number Turkey?
For all special occasions, I like to watch local dollar spots, craft stores, etc. for other activities to keep on hand.
*These were found on clearance at Tarjay and Hobby Lobby.*
This super cute Harvest Mat came from The Dollar Tree, and the stickers that came with it were adorable.
Peanuts Holiday Treasury Available Here (Includes Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving)
On Thanksgiving, we enjoy starting the day with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then at some point during the day, we watch Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. Throughout the morning, we read picture books, enjoy a few activities together (like the ones pictured above), and then we usually eat our big meal around lunch time (with the kids sometimes dressing up like Pilgrims/Indians)…
…and then we put the kids down for a nap. While they nap, we pull out the Christmas decorations and then watch football (and snooze a bit) until the kids wake up ready to go again!
When everyone wakes up, it’s time for sweet treats…
…and usually another activity or two…
Gratitude Scavenger Hunt Details Available Here
Leaf Hunt Details Here
…and then we start putting up Christmas decorations.
Long story short, the morning/afternoon is relaxing: the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving, picture books, simple activities, naps, etc…
…and then the evening is C.R.A.Z.Y….a fun kind of crazy that we look forward to every year.
On Thanksgiving Day when I was growing up, my mom used to gift each of us with a Christmas ornament or Christmas CD. It was such a fun tradition, and we have done something similar a few times here! As our kids get older, I think it will be a fun idea to continue.
Prepping for Thanksgiving Day? Be sure to check out this Walnut Pumpkin Pie! I’m not sure there’s a pumpkin pie in the world that tastes better:
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