The other day I happened to be thumbing through the latest issue of Food and Wine and started reading the always-entertaining Anthony Bourdain’s take on the American classic feast day. As he ruminated on past gatherings and his preference for a ruby port and stilton at the end of the meal, it struck me just how … adult the holiday has become. While the aunts and uncles sit at the grown-up table clinking their glasses of Beaujolais, the kids are relegated – figuratively and literally – to the kiddie table. I mean, would the concept of “the kiddie table” have ever entered the American lexicon if not for this holiday?
This year, that’s changing. Here are five thoughts on ways to get the kids more involved.
Help them plan the menu. Beyond the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce, there are a lot of other healthy dishes out there that make an annual appearance that day. Why not use it as a chance to introduce new foods like antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes or turnips? It’s also a great opportunity to take time to explain the importance of a balanced meal, one that can include turkey, starches, and healthy vegetables.
Turn the kiddos into sous chefs. If you’re traveling to a relative’s house this year and are tasked with bringing a dish, get the kiddos involved at the preparation stage. And encourage creativity, tasking them to think of alternative toppings to traditional dishes. Instead of the marshmallow topping for sweet potato casserole, have them come up with healthier alternatives like pecans. Or challenge them to consider additions to trusty vegetable side dishes like carrots by adding ginger, or that most American of sweeteners, maple syrup.
Have them help serve. Make a plan to have the kids help set the dinner table. In our house, that can range from folding napkins to preparing water glasses. If they’re older, have them help transfer dishes from pots to serving dishes.
Help with clean up. Whether it’s clearing dishes from the table, loading the dishwasher – or maybe even scrubbing some pots – give the kids a job and make it fun. A little positive reinforcement from adults make it more of a “game” than a task. Our girls have been known to compete for the “cleanest pan” accolades (which involves ample cheering and fist bumps).
Act it out. On my side of the family, we have a few fun traditions that include the recitation of a community top ten list (usually recited by the host) that’s fun and playful. Why not have your kids come up with their own list for why they’re thankful? Or have one of the kids say grace before the family meal.
Make this year’s Thanksgiving holiday a memorable one!
Don’t stress about doing all the work yourself this year. Use these tips from Kids.gov to make cooking your Thanksgiving meal more fun by getting the whole family involved.
Berkshire Eats, it should come as no surprise why Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday.