You've probably had your Thanksgiving menu planned out for a few weeks, but have you thought about what your kids might do all day? Hopefully you'll have a merry crew of children together - siblings, cousins, friends and neighbors - and they'll create their own fun. But it is a long day and you might want to have a plan in mind for those parts of the day that lag. I've collected 18 ideas for last minute craft projects, games and decor your kids can help with. These are all simple ideas that use common materials you likely already have at home.
• Leaf Garland on Artful Parent: Garlands always look festive and leaves are a perfect medium for one. Have kids collect colorful leaves outside and decorate them with metallic pens. If the weather is lousy, just cut leaf shapes from paper and have kids paint or draw on them.
• Handprint Turkey Placecards on Nick Jr.: These may look juvenile, but I promise they'll be perfectly charming on your table.
• Fancy Napkin Folds by Culinary Institute of America on Kitchen Daily: Sure, you could attempt a turkey shape napkin fold, but it requires three napkins which sounds like a lot of laundry. How about something simpler for slightly older kids to attempt: like a fan fold or an artichoke fold?
• Napkin Rings on Apartment Therapy: Jason made these a few years ago from an idea he saw in Better Homes and Gardens using toilet paper tubes. The tubes could also be the basis of a turkey or other fall symbol.
• Fingerprint Placecards on Spoonful: Thanksgiving is one of the few meals during the year that may warrant place cards. Get kids in on the action and ask them to make some for each guest. In this version, turkeys are made from thumb and fingerprints using a stamp pad.
• A Tree of Thanks on One More Moore: Deceptively simple, yet elegant. Have kids collect a few branches outside, put them in a vase for your mantle or as a table centerpiece (this blogger added moss) and hang cut out leaves from the branches. This blogger used a craft punch, but you could simply make a template and cut some from paper or even use real leaves. Have guests, including the kids, write things they are thankful for on the branches.
• Spaghetti Box Feathers on Made: We don't eat much spaghetti at my house (I prefer pastas that require less work to get on a fork), but I always seem to have a box in the cupboard. If you've got paint, glue and some cardstock or thin cardboard, your kids will be all set to make these fun feathers.
• Pumpkin Pie Playdough on Tinker Lab: If you are accustomed to making your own playdough at home, switch it up a bit by making a pumpkin pie-scented version (or try cinnamon!). If you haven't tried your hand at play dough yet, I assure you it is quick and easy. The only ingredient you might not have is Cream of Tartar so add that to your shopping list. Another idea is to make some dough in brown, orange, yellow and red and have the kids make their own turkeys.
• Thankful Turkeys by Meet the Dubiens: A simple craft that also prompts kids to think about what they're thankful for. If you don't have enough paper towel or toilet paper rolls, modify the idea to be two dimensional instead.
• Mini Paper Pumpkins on Craftaholics Anonymous: This crafter used hot glue, but I think you could use regular glue to make this more hands-on for kids.
• Headbands by Mer Mag: Kids love crafts they can wear and these are simple enough that they could make enough for the adults to don, too.
• Nature Walk Turkey on BHG: I love this idea because it involves a walk outside first to burn off some energy. Have kids collect leaves, pinecones, etc. and see if they can turn it into a turkey or other seasonal motifs.
• Balloon Boat Races on One Charming Party. You likely have some balloons tucked away somewhere. Even if your race track lacks the artistry of this one, take the idea and make it your own.
• Tic Tac Toe Table on It's Overflowing: All you need for this is tape (washi or just masking tape) and objects to represent "x's" and "o's". Mini pumpkins are adorable, but if you don't have them how about apples and Clementines? racecars and G.I. Joes? You get the idea.
• Turkey Color Bingo by Learning and Teaching Preschoolers: All you need for this game is construction paper, scissors and glue. It's a variation of bingo for young kids who know their colors.
• Macy's Day Parade Bingo on Spoonful: For many families, watching the Macy's Day Parade on television is an annual event. Up the ante by turning the viewing into a bingo game. Spoonful has bingo cards you can download for the parade as well as for watching a football game.
• Pin the Feather on the Turkey on Little Paws Preschool: Kids love games that involve a blindfold and this variation of Pin the Tail on the Donkey works even for very young kids.
• Family Trivia Game on Martha Stewart.com. This is a perfect idea for that time between dinner and the pies when you're already gathered around the table, but need some time to digest. The idea is for guests to write down trivia about themselves and have it compiled into a quiz by a single family member. You could dream up many variations of this idea. It's a lovely way to share stories and laughs.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the Day!
(Images: as linked)