Some good news: making and hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be fun! Yes, cooking and preparing a big meal for loved ones does take some planning and preparation. Not to mention deep breaths and more than a little bit of patience. But the entire day can be less stressful and more enjoyable than many families realize. So gather everyone together and give some of these ideas a try:

Name your turkey.

For many families, the turkey is the real guest of honor. Have you considered naming the bird of the day? Make it a contest and whoever comes up with the most original, or unusual, name gets to have dessert first!

Watch the parade.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924 and has been going strong ever since. If you can’t make it to the streets of Manhattan to see it in person, watch it on television. (NBC and Telemundo broadcast the parade from 9am – noon in all time zones.) The parade is a way to keep the kids entertained while adults get started on cranberry bread or cooking.

Dress up in Thanksgiving-themed costumes.

Instead of normal clothes, kids can wear costumes and eat dinner as turkeys, autumn-colored trees or their favorite Pilgrims. Purchase accessories from your favorite party store or make them yourselves ahead of time.

Cook together.

One of the best bonding activities for families is to get into the kitchen and make a meal together. Try it yourselves. Share old family recipes, secrets and traditions with your children. In addition to delicious food, you’ll be making new memories as well. Click here for some healthy recipes to try on Turkey Day.

Make gratitude lists.

Encourage your children and guests to write a list of 10 things they’re thankful for this holiday season. Before carving the bird, carve out some time at the beginning of the meal for them to share one or two of the items on those lists.

Acknowledge where you live.

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to remember, no matter where you live, the original people who lived there first. Find out the history of your town and its original name by clicking here. Then write your own land acknowledgment statement to begin your meal on Thursday.

Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

Click here for viewing options. For extra fun, make a meal similar to theirs for a snack before the real meal begins. Do you remember what Snoopy and Charlie Brown threw together at the last minute? Toast, popcorn, pretzels and jellybeans. Enjoy!

Make a wish.

A tradition that dates back to 800 BCE, Etruscans believed birds were divine. They also believed that touching a bird’s wishbone would bring good luck. Through the years, that evolved into a ritual where two people grab each side of the wishbone and pull. It’s believed that the one with the bigger piece will have their wish come true.

Add a regional side dish to your meal.

What are your official state fruits and vegetables? Is there something your region is famous for? Pumpkins, strawberries, pineapples? Whatever it is, consider adding a recipe or side dish to your meal that reflects some local pride.

Make fun apple cider drinks.

Autumn is almost over and with it, apple cider season. Click here for some fun treat drinks featuring apple cider. Just leave out the alcohol to make these suitable for children.

Get outside and play.

That afternoon lull in between the parade and meal is a great time to play a family game of touch football, soccer or tag. After dinner, these games allow you to work off the meal you just ate.

Watch a Thanksgiving-themed movie.

Comedies, tearjerkers or animated movies about Thanksgiving can be found on just about every streaming service. Click here for some family-friendly options.

Create your own Thanksgiving Day parade.

If you can’t get to the Macy’s parade in NYC, or your city doesn’t have an official celebration, create your own! Get together with friends and neighbors and march around your neighborhood.

Run in a local turkey trot.

Many communities host 5k or 10k runs the morning of Thanksgiving. Signup fees usually benefit a local charity. Running together with the family is a great bonding experience and terrific exercise!

Volunteer.

When people sign up to serve holiday meals for those in need, the staff gets to enjoy their own family times. This is a beautiful gift to give and much appreciated.

Create a Thanksgiving BINGO game.

Keep the kids busy while you’re cooking with this fun favorite. You can base the game on Thanksgiving food and/or traditions. Or you can even fill out cards with funny quips your family members typically say throughout the day.

Create Thanksgiving Day decorations.

The morning of Thanksgiving can be a time for kids to get creative. Homemade decorations, place mats or menus give young artists a way to feel like they’re a part of this special meal.

Interview family and friends.

Children can use the interviews to make a fun video on YouTube. They can also draw a family tree to give as Christmas or Chanukah gifts.

Make a game out of Thanksgiving trivia and history.

Learning can be fun!

Roast pumpkin seeds.

Make it a family project to remove seeds from the pumpkin, clean and roast them in the oven. Afterwards, cover them with different salts and spices to see which one tastes best.

Play “Who’s the baby?”

Have your adult guests bring their baby pictures. Put the photos in a jar and pick them randomly. Who recognizes the most people correctly?

Wear funky sweaters or socks.

Who can wear the funniest or ugliest Thanksgiving-themed sweaters or socks? Perhaps the winner gets served first for dinner or dessert.

Hunt for mini pumpkins.

Similar to an egg hunt at Easter, only this time everyone is looking for mini pumpkins. This can be inside or outside, depending on the weather. Once you’re finished, the found mini pumpkins can double as centerpieces or decorations.

Take a family walk through the neighborhood.

This is a lovely way to end the evening. After a delicious meal, gather your loved ones and take a nice walk wherever you can. Talk, hold hands and be thankful.

From KidzToPros, enjoy this special season. Happy Thanksgiving!


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