Keep Your Kids Busy (and Out of the Kitchen)

Keep Your Kids Busy (and Out of the Kitchen)

Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends come together in celebration. It often means seeing relatives that live far away and cooking a meal that will be gone in a fraction of the time you spent making it. Being around family and friends also means kids will be present.


While I’m sure every parent will say they love having their kids around all the time, Thanksgiving Day is not usually the most ideal time for little ones to be underfoot. The kitchen is usually chaotic in the morning, by noon its insanity, and by afternoon it may as well be a war zone.


But don’t fret! I have some awesome activities to keep the kids out of the kitchen this Thanksgiving Day so you can keep your sanity.


Handmade Turkeys

These are really simple and super easy for kids of all ages to make. They also make great Thanksgiving decorations for the house.


Photo Credit: Savannah Elyse


All you need to make these super cute turkeys is some paper and crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Simply have your child lay their hand, palm-down, on a piece of paper and outline it. Then, let them go to town decorating it.


Color in the 4 fingers as the turkey’s feathers and tail and leave the thumb for the head. Add some legs and a beak and you’ve got a turkey.


If you want a low-mess craft, you can stop with coloring the turkey in. But you can also go one step further and glue on some feathers and even a googly eye to really make this craft pop.


Leaf Rubbings

Get the kids out of the kitchen AND the house with this craft. This is a great way for kids to learn about different textures and leaf shapes, too!


Photo Credit: Savannah Elyse


These are super easy to make. Crayons work best for this craft, but you could also use a charcoal stick if you are so inclined. I would avoid markers because they are too heavy to pick up the texture of the leaf.


Send the kids outside (with supervision, if they are younger) and have them find a few leaves. Encourage them to find different types, shapes, and sizes, but make sure the leaves are completely dry. Wet leaves will make for less-than-stellar results.


Put your leaves underneath your piece of paper and use your crayon, without the paper wrapping,(length wise) to rub across the surface of the leaf. Press down slightly and you’ll get the texture and shape of the leaf through the paper!


If you want to go a step further, you can cut your leaves out, punch a hole through one end, and run string through them. Then you can hang your leaves around the house.


Outdoor Activities/Sports

In America, football has become synonymous with Fall and Thanksgiving. What better way to get some energy out than to play a game or two?


Photo Credit: Savannah Elyse


Divide the kids into two teams (to avoid fighting and leaving anyone out) and send them outside with a football, or any sports ball. You may need to supervise younger kids in case of injury.


This is a great way to get the kids out of the house and to get them to blow off some steam before dinner. Nobody likes a fidgety child that just can’t still.


Decorate the Kids’ Table

Include your little ones in the decorating process by allowing them to decide how to decorate their own table.


At my Thanksgivings growing up, kids always got their own table. This was a great way to spend more time with my cousins without bothering my parents or aunts and uncles. The kids’ table was always noisy and something was inevitably spilled every year.


Some great decorating ideas are:


  1. Buy a roll of plain brown craft paper and lay it across the table like a tablecloth. Allow the kids to draw all over it to decorate it as they please.
  2. Allow kids to select their own dinnerware (child-safe, obviously) and encourage them to set the table themselves.
  3. Make fun place mats out of your kids’ drawings and artwork by laminating them. If you don’t have a laminator, you can also use contact paper.


Involving your kids in the process is a great way to ensure they don’t feel left out on Turkey Day. Remember: it doesn’t have to look perfect! Its for kids!


Kids’ Movies

If you don’t feel like setting up crafts or it’s too cold or wet to play outside, you can always put on a kids’ movie and let the TV help out. After all, it’s a holiday! You shouldn’t be stressed out.


Some great kids’ movies to watch around Thanksgiving are:

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Photo Credit: Mica Mackenzie


A family classic, Charlie Brown is at it again. As usual, Charlie faces a dilemma with his friends and must handle it carefully. With the obligatory football snatch by Lucy, this movie is sure to entertain everyone.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop


Nothing says Thanksgiving like Black Friday. Paul Blart follows a down-on-his-luck security guard at the Mall of America as he tries his best to foil a robbery within the mall on Black Friday. Definitely worth a watch if you want to laugh off those holiday pounds.


Miracle on 34th Street


Are you ready to skip Thanksgiving and go right to Christmas (we don’t judge here)? This movie is a great way to start the Christmas season off right. A family classic, the movie occurs around the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Santa, a parade, and Christmas in New York City? What more could you want?

Free Birds

Photo Credit: Mica Mackenzie


This is a great family comedy that focuses on the star of Thanksgiving itself: the turkey. Except, these turkeys don’t want to be eaten! They devise a plan to try to get turkey off of the Thanksgiving menu for good.


Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade


Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! It is a family tradition for us. It typically airs on TV and starts early in the morning on the East Coast. There is always commentary by reporters watching and there are always awesome floats to watch go by.


The balloons are pretty cool, too. There have even been a few instances of balloons getting away from their handlers and floating down the street! There are always performances by marching bands and popular singers. And you can usually catch a few performances by some musicals on Broadway, too!


My favorite part comes at the end, when the Radio City Rockettes perform and then Santa arrives in his sleigh. It marks the official start of the Christmas season for me and is a must watch event each year. Check out Macy’s’ website for more info. 

Gratitude Pages


Gratitude can be a hard thing for kids to grasp. To help them understand it better, print out some of these pages and have the kids fill them out. Then, before dinner, have each child read out what they wrote.


You are sure to get some funny responses as well as some tearjerkers. This isn’t just a kids’ activity, either! All ages can do it. You can even print them off and leave them at each place on the table ahead of time.

Board Games


Board games are a great way for kids to stay focused for some time. They can lay them out on the floor and go to town. Better still, board games are better with family.


The natural competitors will emerge as the kids play each other. Just make sure you don’t start any games that will last too long – you don’t want to miss dinner!

Scavenger Hunt


Photo Credit: Savannah Elyse


This is a fun way to get the kids working together. Come up with a list of Thanksgiving- themed things you’d like the kids to find. This game works best if you’ve got quite a few kids and lots of space.


Pair younger ones up with older ones and set them free! Be sure to hide your items in advance, but don’t make it too difficult. And make the prize for winning something fun – maybe some money to start their Christmas shopping early?

Thanksgiving For Kids

Big holiday gatherings can be fun and stressful for everyone. It can be nice to see your family, but remember that your kids can get overwhelmed easily. These activities are sure to keep your little ones happy and minimize the stress on everyone.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Savannah Elyse


Check in tomorrow to catch the most “fitting” Thanksgiving look!


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