It seems as though the Thanksgiving holiday is truly becoming an after-thought holiday in the United States. It has been in a constant battle for years with the overwhelming Christmas Holiday season [which now starts in August I believe?] and the up-and-coming Halloween [so popular that people are now decorating the outside of their homes with orange lights..]
There you have it. The meaning of Thanksgiving, which really should be the most important American holiday of the year after Independence Day, is getting lost on our little ones. Let’s remind our littles [or for some, teach them for the first time] about the true meaning of Thanksgiving and why we celebrate it. Here are 10 ideas for creating a memorable Thanksgiving holiday with your children. This post contains affiliate links, but only for items that I believe in and use personally!
This year, try one or ALL of them and let’s show Thanksgiving that it is indeed NOT FORGOTTEN!
<<10 Ways to Create a Memorable Thanksgiving for Your Children>>
#1 – TRADITIONS
Creating family traditions that revolve around the Thanksgiving holiday are important. These traditions help the littles to remember that this is a celebration of family, food, and all of the things we are thankful for in this life. One of our family’s favorite traditions is the Thanksgiving post-meal walk off. Generally, we eat so much that we are so uncomfortable and the only solution is to go for a walk. We bundle up and head out the door for a leisurely stroll to burn off just enough calories that we can come back and eat seconds! Other traditions we have include family fishing on the lake, watching football, and playing outside.
#2 – GIVING BACK
One of the best ways to teach children about being thankful for what they have is to help those who are not as fortunate to have the same things. I remember doing this when I was younger. As a young person, it is eye-opening to realize that not everyone’s life is like yours. Each person is dealing with their own situation, issues, and challenges.
#3 – READ BOOKS
Our family LOVES reading books. We have about 1 billion books for Christmas and probably 1 million for Halloween and other holidays throughout the year. I have made it a point to find some additional books that talk about Thanksgiving. This really helped get my littles in the spirit of Thanksgiving this year. Here are a few of my recommendations.
#4 – HELPING IN THE KITCHEN
Okay, let’s be real. YOU need help in the kitchen. THEY want to help in the kitchen. It’s a win-win! Thanksgiving pretty much revolves around food. What better way to help your children understand the meaning of giving thanks than by letting them help prepare the meal!? I have toddlers, err 2 toddler boys I should be more specific, so if I can figure out how to let them help me in the kitchen without destroying the place – or heaven forbid, the meal – so can you! Give them a butter knife and let them go to town. OK maybe not a butter knife. A mixer? A cheese grater? An oven mitt? How about they can set the table?! Napkins never hurt nobody, right? 😉
#5 – BAKING
Similar to the above-mentioned helping in the kitchen, baking is a wonderful way to get kids involved in Thanksgiving holiday preparations. Everything they are helping with smells amazing, tastes amazing, AND super bonus, they get to lick the spoon! Also, YOU GUYS, there are tons of toys for kids that are made for the kitchen! So they can play along while you actually cook. Check em out here.
#6 – SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY
There is nothing quite like being around family at Thanksgiving. From our experience, we live in Colorado and all of our family lives in Texas. Since we moved here, we have only been to one Thanksgiving holiday in 5 years. [There are reasons for this I assure you: babies, pregnancy, driving with babies, driving while pregnant, etc etc] This year, however, we determined that it’s just not the same if we don’t go out of our way to visit family. [Wanna know how to keep your toddlers happy while driving for hours? Read our tips here.]
Family is so important. The memories of spending holidays with the people in your family will never fade. You will always remember those weird years, those sad years, those years of happiness, and joy.
#7 – QUIET TIME IN NATURE
Taking a long walk with my family after our giant Thanksgiving meal was always a tradition for us. My husband and his family took off after Thanksgiving for a hunting trip. This holiday allows us all a chance to spend some quiet time in the woods. And I think we all know how I feel about quiet time in nature being good for your soul!
#8 – STOP AND SMELL THE STUFFING
If possible, slow down and take some days off of work during the Thanksgiving holiday. Children are out of school because Thanksgiving is a week of reflection and togetherness. They have a break from their schedule and so should we as parents. And this, coming from me who worked retail for years and my husband, who’s busy time of year is during Thanksgiving!
I remember years when I would get off of work for literally the few hours around Thanksgiving dinner. Or I would just have the afternoon off. It doesn’t matter really. You can make it a point to be attentive and engaged with your children whether you are preparing for Thanksgiving a week early or are present for only a few hours that day. They will know the difference!
#9 – DECORATING THE HOUSE
Under our roof, there is no decorating for Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving meal. [I think my husband came up with that rule.. I don’t know..] It’s a good rule of thumb, though. I like the fact that we make sure to celebrate one holiday at a time. I may sneak in a Christmas song or two [shhh don’t tell him that] but for the most part, we stick to this rule! At our house, we have TONS of pumpkins from the garden. We put these out, along with burlap decor, and greenery to make sure we are ready for Thanksgiving BEFORE Christmas. Here is a Give Thanks banner and here is another super cute wooden sign. This fall red berry wreath is adorable also!
#10 – FIRE IN THE FIREPLACE
My final thought on how to create a memorable Thanksgiving comes from years and years of good memories all happening in front of a big, warm, crackling fire. Didn’t you say you were from Texas?? HA! YES. I am, but it didn’t stop my grandmother from lighting up her fire place at Thanksgiving.
Whether it was 40 degrees or 70 degrees, there was always a fire in the fire place. Is that weird? Maybe, just maybe. But these memories are what shaped my love for the Thanksgiving holiday from such a young age. And now I know just how important it is to create our own memorable Thanksgiving traditions with our children, starting now.
Happy adventuring friends!
Thanksgiving Kids Books
Kids Baking Toys