A young boy holds up a drawing of a hand-shaped turkey with happy thanksgiving written around it

5 Ways to Involve Children in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for families to gather together around the table, share a meal and reflect on the blessings in their lives. Children are naturally a part of these traditions and celebrations, but we sometimes forget to be intentional about including them in the planning, preparation and cleanup of the meal. This involvement can foster responsibility and appreciation in little ones, and can lay the foundation for traditions that can continue when they have families of their own one day.

Baking/Cooking

  • Make Traditions. I have fond memories of helping my mother bake potato rolls, which we only made at Thanksgiving. The rolls were my great-grandmother’s specialty and the recipe has been handed down to each generation. My love of baking was born while making this recipe by my mother’s side each year, and I now continue this tradition with my own children.
  • Let everyone participate. This sweet potato apple bake is the perfect Thanksgiving side dish and another great opportunity for children of all ages to get involved. For example:
    • Older children can help slice the cooked potatoes (once they have cooled) with a butter knife.
    • If you have an apple corer and peeler, younger children can help turn the apple on the gadget.
    • Everyone can have fun layering the sweet potato and apple slices in the dish, stirring together the spices and sprinkling them on top.

Toddler enjoying drawing with mother

Additional “Helper” Ideas

There are many other opportunities for children to get involved outside of preparing the meal. Here are a few ideas:

  • Decorate the table. Children can create their own centerpieces using leaves, acorns, pumpkins or gourds.
  • Make art. Have your kids make personalized place cards or placemats for guests, which they can decorate by tracing the outline of their hand to make a turkey. These also make great keepsakes for relatives!
  • Put on a talent show. Most children love to perform in front of others, whether singing, dancing or doing a magic trick. This will help entertain hungry guests until the turkey is ready!

Read a book. Younger children can help choose a Thanksgiving-themed book for parents to read aloud or older children can show off their own reading skills.