A kid’s table can be a dream for both adults and children.
Uninterrupted conversations for the grown-ups, fun and games for the kids, and everyone ending the night happy.
This picturesque Thanksgiving dinner can quickly turn into a nightmare. Just imagine the crying children, food fights, and endless spills.
The first option is certainly more ideal, but how do you make sure it happens? It’s essential that the kids see their table as an exciting option; because if they’re not comfortable or think you’re trying to get rid of them – watch out!
So how are you going to market the kid’s table as the better option? The same way you’d do it for adults:
• Good company
• Great food
• Fun activities
Children need to be self-sufficient eaters and confident enough to be on their own. At the same time, tweens (or even pre-tweens) may balk at being relegated to the “kid’s table.” You can try calling it the “young adult” table, but they won’t buy it if four-year-old cousin Sarah is also there.
You have to hit that sweet spot between toddler age and middle school.
You also want to think through the mix of kids in advance. Are there two children there who ALWAYS fight when they’re together? (Ahem, including your own.) Are you creating a pack of rowdy kids? Do you need to separate girls and boys?
Be flexible – your guests’ children may not want to be separated from their parents. If trouble starts to brew, you may need a back-up plan.
One option can be to seat all guests at the main table with an optional kids’ table set up with treats and activities. Given a choice, the kids may well decide to leave the boring adults behind.
Keep in mind that the kid’s table may run on autopilot or it may not. Make sure to keep the kids’ table in clear view and preferably in the same room. The kids will feel more a part of the action, and you can step in to avert disaster if needed.
Kids love a kids’ menu. They would much rather hot dogs and fries instead of the turkey and cranberry relish they had no intention of eating anyway.
(Warning: with that menu, you might find some adults sneaking to the kid’s table to grab a plate!)
The kids are going to need something fun to do when they finish eating (WAY before the grown-ups).
Here are some fun activities and crafts you can prepare in advance that will entertain the kids and give you some peace of mind. These activities are not too messy, the kids can do them on their own (make sure to have an example or picture for them to follow), and inexpensive.
Activities for the Littlest Kids:
- Paper Bag Turkey – This activity checks off all the boxes: Easy to prep, super easy to do, includes googly eyes. And once the craft is done, it’s an activity. The kids can use the puppets to “talk turkey” or make skits.
- Pinecone Turkey – This one is also super easy to prep and create. Plus, the kids will have fun going outside and picking their pinecone and leaves. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get carried away and rake your whole yard.
- Free Thanksgiving printables – If you’re not the crafty type, just print these pictures on cardstock and offer an array of fun materials for gluing: googly eyes (of course!), pom poms, feather, foam stickers, or anything sparkly. Take it to the next level by offering wrapped candies, too.
Activities for Older Kids:
- Stuffed Turkey Treats – What kid doesn’t like candy? After stuffing the glove, the children may need help to tape it at the end. If they don’t just eat the candy first. (Note – the candy in the picture may not be kosher. Sub with your choice of kosher treats.)
- Gratitude Pie – Help kids put the “thanks” into thanksgiving. Making the pie requires more advanced skills, but the real challenge is getting the kids thinking about what they’re grateful for.
Activity for Super Sophisticated Kids:
This activity won’t keep kids at the table, but it will keep them safely occupied for a long time.
Thanksgiving Family Photographer – “Take a picture of someone over 70.”
“Pose with someone born outside the U.S.”
Give the kids instructions and a camera, and they’re off. You can make it a competitive game if you want.
The best part is they can upload or email their pictures afterward to a shared album. You’ll have beautiful, quirky, and slightly off-focus memories for everyone to enjoy.
And isn’t that what holiday get-togethers are all about?