How (the heck!) to prepare Thanksgiving dinner with toddlers around

Perhaps this is the first year where it’s your turn to shine and prepare the perfect Thanksgiving gathering for your friends and family. You’ve sent out the invites, made a grocery list, and scooped up some of those lovely Autumn-y smelling candles. Check. Check. Check.

But the real test comes the morning of Thanksgiving – how to prepare a feast that will impress everyone while at the same time keeping curious little hands away from hot surfaces and most certainly out of the pumpkin pie.

A houseful of toddlers can put any veteran Thanksgiving chef to the test, so we are here to help.

Check out our tips for keeping the minis occupied while you bake and sauté your way onto the next Chef's Table.

Get some fresh air

Enlist the help of another adult or the lone teenager who has his head in his phone texting holiday love notes to his girlfriend (every family has one) and get the toddlers outside for a hike or playtime. Just be sure they are bundled up and a head count before setting off never hurt anyone.

This will be the adult’s chance to relive the glory days of Foursquare, tag, and red rover, all of which you’ll likely hear about over dinner in only a matter of time.

Thanksgiving-themed crafts

We’ve already shared some of our favorite festive fall crafts here where most of the creations come from foraged goods found on a hike.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are tons of websites offering free downloadable prints for coloring activities like this one. There are also ridiculously cute Thanksgiving-themed stickers available in most grocery stores near the greeting card section.

Thanksgiving-themed movie time

We know, we know. Every parent tries to limit their child’s screen time. But sometimes, you just have to buy yourself time to figure out how to actually stuff a turkey.

Free Birds and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving are both available on Netflix, plus the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade never fails to impress. For those already in the Christmas Spirit, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is always a good, go-to classic, if I do say so myself. 

Break out the playing cards

Apart from card games helping children improve critical thinking skills and dexterity, they are just plain fun. Plus, every family secretly likes a little bit of competition, from Go Fish to Rummy to Euchre.

Take a page out of my book and you, too, can have a twenty-some year card rivalry between you and your grandpa as well.

And for the bravest of us all…

(and those idealistically without nice fluffy carpet) Bring out the playdoh and let the little ones prepare their very own “feast” while you are cooking the real one. This recipe is wonderful and can be made ahead of time and colored in festive hues.

All you have to do the day of is just make sure they eat the real feast (even if they don’t, this playdoh recipe is non-toxic, woo-hoo!).

From all of us at Ollie + Squish - May your day run smoothly, the wine taste great, your children have a blast, and all political chatter be avoided. 

Here’s to surviving yet another family filled holiday, folks! ;)


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