Updated by Ashley Crowe on November 24, 2021
Thanksgiving is here and there’s SO much to do! Last-minute grocery shopping (it always seems like we forget something 🤦), pies to make 🥧, tables to set 🍽️, and of course a turkey to prep🍗.
And there’s nothing our younger kiddos love more than being underfoot in the kitchen while we’re doing all the things.
While it may be tempting to send them to the living room to watch TV, there are lots of ways that your child can help on Thanksgiving Thursday! The trick — give them an age-appropriate task that requires little supervision. You’ll be able to get your tasks done, and they’ll be excited to contribute to the family feast.
Here are our favorite ways to get the kids involved with Thanksgiving prep!
7 Fun Ways Your Kids Can Help On Thanksgiving
🦃 Measure, count, and stir
Dips, cakes, stuffing, casseroles — let your kids get their (freshly washed) hands into all of it with these simple tasks. Even the smallest of kiddos can help with recipe prep in these ways!
Your child can count out the cranberries you need for your sauce, measure the flour for the pie dough, and stir the marshmallows into the yams. Bonus — these are all great math learning activities too!
You may end up missing a few marshmallows from the bag, but the memories you’re creating are well worth it!
🦃 Set the table
This is a classic holiday task for those younger kiddos. Break out your holiday serveware and get those kids polishing. They can focus their attention on giving your forks and gravy boats back their sparkly shine.
Once that’s complete, there’s plenty more to do. Your child can roll or fold napkins, place the silverware, and set out the plates. The salad fork may end up in the wrong place, but no one will care once the food hits the table. Let your children celebrate their table setting success and then dig in!
🦃 Make centerpieces
If your child loves crafting and creating, put your child to work creating your table’s Thanksgiving centerpiece. They can fill vases with colorful popping corn, or create their very own paper turkey. Check out this list of simple DIY centerpieces for kids for some great ideas.
Even if you don’t have time to pull together a last-minute craft, your kids can help arrange flowers or place the mini pumpkins in just the right spot. Older kids may even enjoy a challenge to create a Lego table decoration. Get creative and your kids will follow.
🦃 Clean up
When you’re busy with the cooking, the kitchen can quickly become a mess. If your child is already under your feet, enlist them to help clean up. They can throw away empty cans, wipe up the inevitable spills, and even get an early start on washing the dishes.
Then after the meal, all hands on deck. Depending on your child’s age, they can help clear the table, put up leftovers, load the dishwasher, or hand wash the fancy holiday plates. There’s no shortage of mess to clean up on Thanksgiving Day!
🦃 Chop veggies
Invest in a kid-safe chopper and your child can become a busy little sous-chef. Let them chop cucumber and broccoli for the veggie tray. Or cut up onion and celery for the stuffing.
With the right tools, even your older toddler can assist. These kid-safe knives are a favorite. Or look for a wavy chopper or wooden knife. After a short demo by you, your child can get to work with minimal supervision. You can help them grow their cooking confidence while keeping them safe with these special kitchen tools!
🦃 Create a dish
Get your older kids involved and ask them to plan a menu item for the big day. They can choose an easy-to-make appetizer, like a cheeseball. Or let them stretch their culinary talents with a beautiful and healthy side. How do some sweet potatoes with caramelized onions and maple syrup sound? Um, yes please!
The biggest thing is to let them do the choosing and executing. The more of the process they’re involved in, the better. Take them to the store to grab their ingredients, help them figure out the timing for dish delivery, and then give them their own space to create. You’ll be there if they need any help, of course — but don’t step in unless they need you. They’ll be proud and excited to present their dish to the fam.
If your child has a sweet tooth, ask for their help with the dessert lineup. They can decorate sugar cookies with sprinkles and icing, chop up apples for pie, mix up and pour the pecan pie filling, or ice the carrot cake.
Older children can come up with their own dessert to contribute to the day. Something simple, like chocolate-dipped pretzels, can make for a festive display. Or let them go all out, whipping up cream to create a towering trifle.
Create new memories with your children this Thanksgiving!
Allowing your children to help with the preparing, cooking, serving, and cleaning up is a great way to celebrate the holiday. These are tasks they can be proud of, and they’ll enjoy getting to play their own part during the big day.
The most important part of getting the kids involved — have fun! The holidays are all about creating beautiful family moments. Being together in the kitchen, creating dishes and even making messes, are some of our favorite memories. Get your kids involved to create new traditions that will last a lifetime.
If you’ve run out of helpful tasks, or just need a few moments for yourself, set your kids up at the table with some crayons and some of our FREE printables. You can choose our Autumn pack, or start getting in that holiday spirit with our Holiday booklet. It’s a fun way to pass the time while waiting on that turkey to ding.
They can still be near the preparations, creating and coloring, without being RIGHT in the middle of it!
Whatever our kids end up doing on Thursday (helpful...or slightly less helpful), they are, of course, who we are MOST thankful for!
And we are very thankful for each of YOU!
We wish you the very best this Thanksgiving. Enjoy the family time, tasty treats, and your many blessings!