Easy Thanksgiving Traditions Your Child Will Love
by Rhonda Robinson
Give a child a fun day, and she will want a tradition. Children love repetition. They want to know what to expect. When parents provide predictability, we give them a sense of security.
Family traditions are among the key ingredients for creating a wonder-filled childhood. The trick for parents is not falling into the rut of “what we have always done.” Thanksgiving traditions can easily slip into that trap.
If you have young children, or even better, if you have a few coming to your home, consider adding some new elements into your Thanksgiving gathering this year. It might seem a little over the top at first, and perhaps it is. Nevertheless, with very little effort, they will produce more than a few giggles and wonderful memories for everyone. Not to mention a few great photo ops.
Try dressing up for Thanksgiving Day.
Sure, you could put them in dresses and ties. However, if you want them to have some fun, why not dress them up in costumes?
Our growing population of over thirty grandchildren love to dress up. I keep all sorts of dress up clothes on hand, from their mom’s old ballet recital dresses to Indian costumes. On Thanksgiving, our little guys dress up as pilgrims and Indians.
Indian costumes are extremely simple to make. They are nothing more than a rectangle piece of material folded in half, with the hole in the middle. Finish with a couple of quick seams and a little imagination. If you don’t sew, that’s not a problem.
The simplest method is to use a T-shirt.
- Lay the shirt flat on a table and cut up the side seams, including the sleeves.
- Cut out the binding around the neck opening. You may want to make a slit in the front to make the opening wider. It makes slipping over his or her head easy.
- Cut the sides into two-to-three-inch slits all the way up to the arms to make fringe.
- Tie the front and back fringe together in small knots to make a fringed shirt.
- You can cut the sleeves into more fringe and let them hang or cut them out entirely.
From this point, you can get as elaborate or as simple as you like. Our little girls love to wear oversized shirts for dress length costumes. The boys keep them shirt length. For both styles, it’s best to use a size or two bigger so you have plenty of room for cutting and knotting. Pony beads are an inexpensive bonus. This is a perfect opportunity for the kids to help in the process. With a little help, tiny fingers can thread the beads through the strips of fringe. You might want to help tie a knot to keep the bead in place.
If showing up at Grandma’s dinner table dressed in beaded Indian shirts would raise eyebrows, you can still have a little dress-up fun.
Try making gobble-gobble shirts.
Gobble-gobble shirts are oversized shirts, decorated by the children, and worn over their good clothes for dinner.
Buy colored shirts long enough to cover their laps to their knees.
- Using fabric paint, write fun Thanksgiving phrases on the front.
- Your child’s handprints are always a memorable decoration.
- Children love to decorate their own shirts as well.
These shirts can be slipped over their outfits as they sit down for their Thanksgiving feast. No worries of dripping chocolate pudding down their good clothes. The shirts are big enough to cover their laps, and so fun, they don’t think of them as a bib.
Sitting at the kids table can be fun.
The Rockwell style family dinner is a wonderful ideal. However, gathering a large or extended family around the table is not always an option. Enter the kids’ table.
If the children get to spend the time with cousins they don’t often get to see, they may not fuss about it. That’s usually not the case if they feel like they are being shoved aside with the “little kids.”
One way we have made the kids’ table memorable is to make a tablecloth out of a white flat sheet. Set the table with a bouquet of markers and crayons. Let the kids draw, write, and otherwise decorate their table while they eat and visit. Encourage the little ones to draw around their hands.
What they create will become a treasured tradition. The next Thanksgiving they are all together, the table is already set with memories of food, fun conversations, and delight at how much their hands and writing skills have grown.
Coming together as a family and celebrating the goodness that God has harvested in our lives is the essence of Thanksgiving. We can be intentional in creating memorable Thanksgiving traditions. Thanksgiving can magnify the essential elements of pleasant memories: the aroma in the kitchen, the sounds of adults talking and laughing together, the beauty of fall decorations. By adding in some child-centered fun, we can create childhood memories they will want to turn into their own traditions.
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