Thanksgiving: Making it a Family Affair

Written by Julie Paiva, CHHC


Thanksgiving is a day to reflect on what we are grateful for and to spend valuable time with our families.  Preparing for Thanksgiving can give you some feelings that are not so warm and fuzzy.  When your hosting people at your house for the holidays, it can get rather stressful.  Why not reduce some of the duties and encourage family bonding by having your kids help with the planning, set up, execution and clean up of the Thanksgiving meal and celebration? Below are a few ways to get your children involved with the holiday festivities.


Holding a Family Planning Meeting


Just like if you had a project for work, gather your team, create a guest list, and discuss the menu, decorations, activities, etc.  Have your children make invitations for family and friends that you are inviting or have them place phone calls to them to extend the invitation.  Once the menu is agreed upon have one of the kids write out a menu for your guests to look at on Thanksgiving day.  Assign each member of your family jobs that they can accomplish.  Tasks for your children will vary depending on their age.




Kids love to do art projects.  Give them a bunch of art supplies and let them come up with festive decorations for your home and table.  Festive holiday place tags for the table are a wonderful thing to create.




Some children are natural born performers and love to entertain family and friends.  Often, even shy children are comfortable in front of loved ones.  Allow your children to create and  perform a skit, sing a song, act out a finger play, or read a Thanksgiving story or poem.


Creating a Detailed Shopping List


Make a list of all the items needed for each recipe that you will be making for the holiday meal.  Take inventory of the things you already have and what needs to be purchased.  You can even give older children a budget and have them estimate the costs of the things needed.  Once your list is complete head out for a family shopping trip.


Meal Prepping


Divide the meal preparation tasks up and let the kids help in the kitchen.  Many children love to get involved with cooking.  Even kids that are too young to use a knife can help stir or pour ingredients into bowls.  Have children set the table and prepare the house for company.


Hosting Guests


Review manners and ways to greet people when they come to your door.  Have your children help take coats, introduce them to others, announce the meal and show guests to the table.


Cleaning Up


This is everyone’s least favorite part of the holiday festivities, so why not get as much help as you can for clean up?  Have your children help clear the table, scrape food off plates, wash dishes, take out the garbage, vacuum and sweep up.


No matter if you choose to get your children involved in one aspect of Thanksgiving or all of them, it will lighten your load and create memorable experiences for all.  You will be teaching your children valuable life skills, providing opportunities for responsibility, giving your child a sense of contribution and accomplishment, filling everyone’s blessing basket, and reminding yourself of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  The payoff is the shared goal, to work together as a team while creating lasting experiences and a deep sense of gratitude for your loved ones.  Make the most of this Thanksgiving Day by spending the days leading up to it as a strong family unit.

Julie Paiva
Julie Paiva
Julie is a nutritional counselor with a degree in Holistic Health Coaching from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree from Central Connecticut State University in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Science from Southern Connecticut State University. She has been giving one-on-one coaching sessions ever since earning her degree in 2013 and is passionate about helping others implement a holistic lifestyle!

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