10 Ideas for Kids Waiting on Thanksgiving Dinner

You’ll be busy in the kitchen. How will you keep the kids occupied while you’re whipping up Grandma’s famous creamed corn casserole?

Set up a small table in an adjacent room, grab a few no-mess supplies, and try out these timely strategies.


1.      Invite them to participate in the kitchen. After all, isn’t that how you learned to make that family favorite? Have your kids dump in pre-scooped measuring cups of ingredients. Ask them to assist in stirring or spreading whip cream. If they’re old enough, they might even be up for spooning mashed potatoes or placing rolls into designated serving dishes.

2.      Assign them meal prep chores too. It was an honor to be asked to set the Thanksgiving table as a child. My cousin and I got to work alongside our Nana, carefully creasing napkins, placing silverware on top, and lining pumpkins down the center of the table. You might also assign a child to help with dishes. Pull up a stool to the sink and toss him a sponge. On Thanksgiving Day dishes are a round the clock activity.  

3.      Collect colorful leaves outside. Then string the leaves into garland by lacing a pre-tied needle and thread through the vibrant bunch to create a seasonal strand.  

4.      Color a Give Thanks banner for display. To make the banner more meaningful, have children interview family members, allowing every family member to write what they’re thankful for this year on the pennant letters.  Here’s an easy FREE printable version. After Thanksgiving, store this banner away for years to come as a family keepsake.

5.      Construct construction paper Pilgrim/Native American hats, with the help of a few examples and sample patterns. If you need to buy extra time waiting on the turkey or Uncle Joe to arrive, use their hats as props to turn them into characters in their own Thanksgiving skit or play. Click the image below to download a printable template from Strawberry Mommycakes.

6.       Stock a table full of kid-friendly nibbles. It’s hard to wait till mealtime. Appease little growling tummies by offering snacks during meal prep.

7.      Host a talent show. Ask a willing family member, maybe a grandmother or even an older child, to direct and judge the family show. A rising star of any age may enter as a participant. The winner earns bragging rights until next year’s talent competition.

8.      Toss a football in the backyard. Even flag football or a game of catch will be fun and enjoyable exercise before indulging in the feast.

9.      Craft “I’m thankful for you!” cards. Have an example ready for them to imitate.

10.     Decorate these printable placemats for the feast.