Tips for Happy Kids this Thanksgiving

Kids don’t typically love the Thanksgiving meal as much as adults do.

While I swoon over my uncle’s fried turkey, my kids eat a few bites and are ready to play in the backyard. Every inch of my plate is filled with favorites like my mom’s Grand Marnier-spiked cranberry sauce and my aunt’s creamy mashed potatoes. My kids’ plates? They’re sparsely dotted with shades of white and brown. They eat just enough to be granted an invitation for dessert.

And that’s why families have kids’ tables. While grownups linger over this laborious meal, kids can shovel a few bites while telling jokes with their cousins.

I know a family that insists the kids eat at the table with the adults. The grandmother believes the kids should learn to sit quietly, listening to adult conversation. I respect her point of view. But, she wouldn’t want to come to my Thanksgiving.

For everyday dinners, my kids are expected to sit with us, use their manners and not leave the table until everyone is finished. But on Thanksgiving, we loosen up.

But loose shouldn’t mean anarchy. Here are some ideas for creating some structured fun for your kids’ table:

  1. Forget about a tablecloth. Instead, cover the kids’ table in butcher or craft paper. Fill mason jars with crayons and colored pencils, and let the kids decorate the table with their drawings. Everyone – from little children to teens – will have fun doodling and drawing turkeys.
  2. Let the kids do a craft. No need to get the glue gun out for these crafts. Think simple crafts using colorful pipe cleaners, stickers, glue sticks and construction paper. Craft stores have easy, fun kits just for Thanksgiving. Pick up a few and place them on the table. This will keep the kids busy – and at the table – while the adults finish their meal.
  3. Have an outdoor scavenger hunt. Once the kids have finished eating, give them a list of things they can find outdoors. Once they’ve found the acorns, leaves, twigs and whatever else you come up with, they can bring them in to glue to a wreath they can create together. Tie a bow to a basic grapevine wreath, and then let the kids add their treasures.
  4. Give the kids dessert duty. Kids will have a blast decorating plain, frosted cupcakes with candy corn and other fall candies. Or, older kids can dip apples in a small slow cooker filled with caramel. Have everything ready to go – and near the kids’ table – so they can dig in once they’re finished eating.

These recipes will be welcome at the kids’ table or any table on Thanksgiving. The recipe is adapted from Taste of Home magazine.

Mashed Potatoes and Pumpkin

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 pounds pie pumpkins, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk, divided
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Add pumpkins to a large saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

In another large saucepan, cook potatoes the same way, adding to saucepan, covering with water and bringing to a boil. Reduce heat, cook, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

Drain potatoes; return to pan. Mash potatoes, adding ¼ cup milk, 4 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Add additional milk if needed to reach desired consistency. Transfer to a serving bowl; keep warm.

Drain pumpkin; return to pan. Mash pumpkin, gradually adding the remaining butter and salt and enough remaining milk to reach desired consistency; spoon evenly over potatoes. Cut through mashed vegetables with a spoon or knife to swirl. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with pepper. Serve immediately.


Depending on how much you like ginger, you can use a little or a lot.

Honey-Ginger Glazed Carrots

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoons honey
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes, until liquid just evaporates and carrots are glazed.


Chocolate Chess Pie

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9-inch pie crust

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside.

Combine sugars, eggs, milk, flour and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gradually add chocolate mixture, beating constantly.

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate. Pour filling into pie crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cool. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Categories: Food

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