Looking for ideas to start a tradition with my sister in law and her daughter (4 years old) while cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. Thank you for any suggestions/ideas!
Lori from Atlanta, NY
In my family, we always had the kids make Thanksgiving Menus while the adults cooked. We have several years of colorings, drawings, "Melt In Your Mouth Mashed Potato" type food headings. It's a blast to look over.
I have 2 girls, and one always likes to set a beautiful table with place cards and the other one loves to cook with me. If you make stuffing from scratch, a 4 year old can help break up the bread for the stuffing while you cook the other stuff to go into it and help mix it all up. If it is package stuffing, they can help mix it all up too. Just make sure their hands are clean! Kids can help with just about anything with guidance. Pick something they like to prepare and have them work together to make it. Special memories are created this way.
My mom, now gone, started a little tradition when my kids were 3 and 4 years old of making cookies together. They love to pat and roll them out with a rolling pin. Then decorate them with sparkles, etc. I've got some wonderful pictures too. My 3 year old then, with a big grin patting her cookies down. She's now 18 and in college. Wonderful memories. Also, any simple dish they can help with is so much fun, and keep the camera handy. When the kids got to be around 8 or 10, they dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians for Thanksgiving dinner. More pictures. Let your kids help with decorating the table, if they're artistic, they can make some pretty name tags. Always involve your children, you'll be so glad you did. An aging momma.
Make placemats and/or centerpieces.
One of the things I did with my boys when they were young and we were having special meals was to find cookie cutters related to the holiday or theme and have them cut bread slices out with it. Then they would spread on either spreadable cheese (which I warmed a bit to make it smoother) or softened butter that was whipped with chive, garlic, vegetable dip mix or other dried herbs or spices and then I would refrigerate them until just before dinner and broil them or a minute so the boys had something they made for the feast. Another thing that we did was make the peanut butter pinecones (spread with peanutbutter and roll in bird seed or sunflower seeds) and popcorn strings to hang outside for a thanksgiving feast for the birds. They enjoyed this a whole lot because we would just sit together and talk about favorite family times or what we think the Macy's day Parade balloons will look like and things like that. Then they would watch the birds come and eat and try to see how many different kinds came to the yard.
By Renee Klevenhagen
Before we served, a sharpie was passed around for each to write (on the special thanksgiving tablecloth) three things that we were thankful for. One heartfelt, one small and easily taken for granted, and one silly/funny. If a child can not write, a parent can print for them. As a result, our 'special' cloth became more and more precious through the years. My Grandchildren have continued the tradition, their little printed scrawl often next to their Daddy's entry when he was the same age as them. If my house was on fire, I'd try to rescue that cloth rather than my jewelry.
I like the idea of using my old Tupperware cookie cutters (turkey, gingerbread people, etc.) to make sugar cookies ahead of time, then mix up frosting in differnt colors and provide the children with paintbrushes and aprons to "paint" the icing on in their own creative way. Or you could make Christmas ornaments together on Thanksgiving. At my mother's house, we always put the tree up on Thanksgiving after dinner. Hope this helps!
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