You might even get a little FOMO yourself.

Raise your hand if you thought I was going to tell you to put butcher paper down as a tablecloth or have the kids play Turkey Bingo.

Nope. I’m not going to do that. Because a) There are a million blogs out there with those ideas and b) If you’re organizing the holiday meal fiasco, I believe you have enough on your plate without having to be the Best Class Mom Ever, too.

In the days preceding Thanksgiving, your kids are going to come home with plenty of pilgrim hats, gratitude trees, and paper fan turkeys for you to feel guilty about hiding them in the trash after they go to sleep at night (Yes, darling—I put it in that box in the attic where I keep ALL the stuff you make). You don’t want to be carting any more useless crafts home with your leftovers. Ditto for a dozen printable coloring pages that won’t ever fit on your already crowded fridge.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need ALL THAT—and neither do they. From simple toys they can play with now and take home later to good, clean fun with a purpose, these ideas will have you instantly re-thinking that feathered headdress project.

Lego City

Toy story

Put a mini-puzzle, mini Lego kit, Etch-a -Sketch, or Rubik’s cube at every place. These inexpensive novelty toys will keep them engaged during dinner… on the car trip home… maybe even longer.


Big deal

Card games like Go Fish and Uno are more table-friendly than a board game but just as fun. They also open the door for bonding between the generations—who among us doesn’t have fond memories of playing Rummy or War with our grandparents? Encourage the adults to join or offer some friendly pointers in between the appetizers and the main course.

Awesome jokes


The only thing kids like more than reading jokes is telling them—and their giddiness at sharing even the oldest, lamest “Why did the turkey cross the road?” is hard to resist. Include a collection or two of jokes, riddles, and puns. Encourage them to mark their favorites and perform their stand-up routine for the whole family before dessert.



I love the idea of incorporating a service project into the day. One of my favorites is the Kindness Rocks Project, based on the belief that one message at the right moment can change someone else’s day, outlook, or life.

Since this is going to be happening around mealtime, I’d suggest using clean, store-bought rocks. Put a basket in the center of the kids’ table, along with a tumbler of mess-free paint pens. Kids can decorate rocks with messages of positivity and inspiration: Smile, You’re Amazing, Keep Going, Slow Down. Take a walk after dinner and leave the rocks around the neighborhood to lift locals’ spirits.

Warning: You’re gonna need a bigger kids’ table. Because all the grown-ups will end up there.

Find more ways to have fun with the kids over the holidays here! 

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