Do You Have a Separate Kids' Table for Thanksgiving?
Our family enjoys Thanksgiving dinner at my Mother-in-Law's house. She is a hostess extraordinaire and her celebration has grown to the point where the table is bursting with family, friends, and neighbors, including several kids. Is it time to add a "kids' table?"
My kids are a bit too young to be shunted off to the kids' table but I wonder if we will create a Thanksgiving table annex when the time comes.
Experts say that family meals are essential for kids. According to an article in the Social Policy Report, "Shared family mealtimes have been associated with such diverse outcomes as reduced risk for substance abuse, promotion of language development, academic achievement, and reduced risk for pediatric obesity."
I'm all for that but we're talking one meal a year...wouldn't it be nice to have just one dinner with adult conversation and without spills and gross-outs?
As a kid, I was in the middle of a large group of cousins -- I have five older cousins and seven younger first cousins -- and the kids' table was the place to be. At least for me. I'm not sure the older kids appreciated babysitting duty. But it was a fun place to be nonetheless.
For a lot of families, it is just an issue of what's practical. If your kids are too young to manage a meal without supervision, then a family meal it is. If there just isn't enough room for everyone, then a kids' table may be unavoidable.
If you are planning a kids' table by choice or necessity, or even if you just need to keep the kids busy before dinner, here are a few ideas:
- Decorate your own table cloth: Buy a length of muslin as the table cloth and have the kids doodle and write to their heart's content with fabric markers. Just make sure to put a piece of plastic under the cloth. This can be an annual tradition and the kids will have fun adding to the table cloth and seeing their old messages and drawings.
- Place mats: If a table cloth is just too much trouble, have the kids make personalized place mats. give them construction paper, markers, glue, and pressed leaves. Just before dinner, use clear contact paper or self-adhesive laminating paper to protect the place mats.
- Put them to work: Assign each kid an age-appropriate task. Even toddlers can give everyone a napkin.
- Make a Thanksgiving Tree: Buy or create a tree with bare branches (you can use twigs from outside in a tall vase, or a toilet paper roll with construction paper). Cut out leaves from construction paper in fall colors. Then, have each child write something for which they are thankful on a pile of leaves. Tape or glue to the branches.
- Get to know each other: Make a box of questions ("What's your favorite band?" "What are you learning in school?") that the kids can take turns asking and answering to get to know one another better.
- Get crafty: If you anticipate a lot of time before dinner and have kids who are old enough to craft mostly independently, check out these Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids.
Do you have a children's table? Did you sit at one growing up? Was it a Thanksgiving blessing or a big turkey?