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Fun Thanksgiving Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

Remember when you were a kid and it was time to head to Grandma's for Thanksgiving dinner, where you and your cousins would dread being stuck at the kids' table, which was usually in the kitchen, where you were segregated from the adults, had nothing fun to do, and seemed to miss out on all the good parts of the holiday?  Don't leave your children to the same fate this holiday season!  Plan a kid-friendly Thanksgiving feast, start a few new traditions that will make the holiday memorable for all generations of the family, and make the kids feel important through the whole meal. 

Although you'll have set the scene for your Thanksgiving feast with wonderful Thanksgiving decorations  you'll want to make sure you've made house kid-friendly for your pint-sized guests.  Avoid having candles down low where little fingers can get burned.  Instead, choose battery operated candles for your candleholders and decorative accents.  If you have anything that's breakable in the path of little guests running through the house, now's probably a good time to move them to safety as nothing ruins a holiday faster than a priceless heirloom shattering right before the turkey is carved.  One last safety measure to take for a kid-friendly Thanksgiving feast is to take stock of any four-legged friends and assess how they are going to react around the kids.  Cats are usually fine left their own devices and will hide if they need to get away.  Dogs, on the other hand, need some extra consideration.  If your dog is a little skittish in a big crowd or doesn't do well with kids, consider sequestering them in a quiet room for the evening or housing them in their crate till your guests leave.  Not only will this protect the kids from any nips but will protect your dog from any unnecessary stress. 

Now for the most important aspect of your kid-friendly Thanksgiving feast-setting up the kids' table!  Nothing will make the kids feel like they've been banished to the other room then being stuck at a boring kids' table where there's nothing fun to do and they feel like an afterthought at the meal.  Instead of setting the table with a fancy tablecloth that risks getting ruined by spilled cranberry sauce and grimy fingers, use a roll of butcher paper to cover the table.  Not only is the an inexpensive option, but it will add an element of fun as well as fitting in with the rustic autumn color scheme that works so well with the rest of your Thanksgiving decorations!  Wrap a set of 4 piece crayons with raffia ribbon and place one set at each place setting.  When the kids hear they can draw on the tablecloth, they'll be thrilled that they can destroy the decorations for a change and not get in trouble!  Create fun place cards so the kids know who's sitting where out of popsicle sticks with the kids' names on them and tuck them in with each set of crayons.  This will also eliminate any fighting over whose crayons are whose!   Since you probably won't want to risk Grandma's fine china being broken, consider using Thanksgiving harvest paper plates for the kids' table this Thanksgiving.   Finish off decorating your kids' table with a festive Thanksgiving centerpiece and you'll be ready for some mealtime fun! 

Let the kids know it's perfectly ok to draw all over the tablecloth and encourage them to add their favorite holiday accents to make the decor a little more festive.  Start a new tradition where each of the kids writes what they're most thankful for this holiday before they start their masterpieces.  At the beginning of the meal, have the whole family share what they are thankful for and include the kids in the tradition, having them share what they've written. 

As one final way to get the kids involved in your Thanksgiving festivities, have them dress the part by setting the table with a Pilgrim hat or Indian headband at each place setting.  The kids will love their special headgear and, if you've got some creative types in the group, you can have the older children help organize a Thanksgiving pageant to entertain the crowd.  Not only will the adults love the entertainment factor, but the staging and preparation will keep the kids occupied before dinner starts, giving the adults time to visit. 

Taking the time to plan a kid-friendly Thanksgiving feast will make your holiday extra special for everyone involved, adults and kids alike, making the kids feel welcome in your home and their parents thankful that you've taken the time to accommodate their children. Plus, the fact that you've planned some activities to keep them out from underfoot, giving their parents a chance to mingle and relax with the other adults, will make you the ultimate hostess!  

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