Thanksgiving is a truly special time. It is a day we gather together with family and friends that we may not see often during the year. It gives us a moment to reflect on what we are thankful for in our own lives. I am personally grateful to be surrounded by a large loving family which includes many children from different age groups. It can be chaotic and rewarding all at the same time. There are some simple things that you can do to make sure that everyone has a great time at your next big family Thanksgiving dinner.
Toddlers At The Table
When Planning the Children's table for toddlers it is best to keep things simple. Toddlers are messy and that is ok. First things first. Everything should accommodate the size of the toddler starting with table and chairs. There are many great choices for toddler sized tables and chairs. Instead of putting down a fabric tablecloth consider putting down a butcher paper table cloth that is taped to the table so that children can color on it during mealtime along with some fun free printable Thanksgiving coloring placemats. Put a washable drop cloth under the table for easy clean up. Next use sippie cups in fun fall colors. There are many great choices for thanksgiving paper or plastic table wear to use without having to worry about broken dishes. For a finishing touch Dress up the table with something simple like a couple of glittered pinecones, a stuffed turkey or small pumpkins.
For Elementary aged children the woodland creature or turkey theme is just right. This whimsical theme is lots of fun. School aged children are old enough to sit at a card table with a tablecloth. Card tables can easily be pushed together to make one big longer table to accommodate as many children as needed. Plastic cups in falls colors and paper or plastic plates in a woodland creature or turkey theme will add to a festive scene. Cute place cards will make the kids feel special and it gives you a chance to place the children in the best order. Siblings who are prone to fighting can be strategically placed at opposite ends of the table or a shy child can be placed next to a real chatterbox.
School aged children may enjoy free printable thanksgiving placemats with jokes, mazes and crossword puzzles on them. This should help keep them occupied at the table a little longer and is a great conversation starter.
A Fun idea for any age is to set out a white sheet as a tablecloth. The children can do hand tracings and write what they are thankful for. Use sharpie markers for vivid colors that won't fade when washed. The tablecloth could even be used year after year so that everyone can see what they have been grateful for in years past! This is a great way to start a new family tradition and create a special family keepsake.
Setting The Table For Teens
Teenagers will want their very own table separate from the prying ears of adults. They are often resentful that they even have to go to family functions at this age. They really do not want to have to babysit the little kids at the children's table and they certainly don't want to be treated like a child. Lets' face it the topics of conversation are quite a bit different for kids and teens. Teenagers deserve their own space. The Thanksgiving table-scape for teens will be more mature. Teens can sit at a card table or a full sized table of course. Start with a nice fall colored tablecloth and runner. Teens are old enough to use real dishes. They may like something kind of sparkly like glittered pine-cones or gold garland. Individual votive candles could be put at each place setting. The foil garland and votive candles can be purchased at the dollar store quite inexpensively.
About The Author
My name is Karen Shiley. I live in the beautiful evergreen Washington state. I have an adventurous spirit and love to share what I learn with everyone. I like science, gardening, cooking, reading, daytrips and above all else my amazing family who supply me with endless amusment and happiness. I originally published this article on 11/20/13.
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I would love to hear your comments!
Brittanie Anne from Seattle WA on November 20, 2013:
These are great ideas! I want to use the turkey decoration I think my toddler will love that and making the table cloth a keep sake is genius.