Helping Hands: Involving Family in Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations

Family Thanksgiving Dinner PreparationWhether you’ll be hosting a feast or hitting the road to join family and friends for a celebration, you probably have a long list of things to do to get ready for Thanksgiving. By the time Turkey Day arrives, it may seem as if the only thing you can feel thankful for is a minute to sit down.

By involving the whole family in your Thanksgiving dinner preparation, you’ll get some help and your spouse and kids will take pride in putting their mark on the festivities.

Kid-friendly recipe search. In addition to serving your and your family’s favorite dishes and old go-to recipes, this is a great time to add something new to the menu. Try the following to make your Thanksgiving dinner preparations as seamless as possible:

•    Pull out a kid-friendly cookbook and let younger family members browse for ideas.
•    Let children select a favorite vegetable or other healthy food to add to your menu.
•    Go online with your child and search together for easy-to-use recipe sites. Many of them, like SuperCook.com, let you type in an ingredient and instantly access tempting recipe ideas and photos.
•    Assign Dad to prepare an appetizer or side dish of his choice, with one of the younger children participating as helper.

Having your family participate in the Thanksgiving dinner preparation will add a dash of fun to the menu, even if their selections aren’t typical Thanksgiving dinner traditions.

Throw a chopping party. Once you’ve got your menu planned, take advantage of those last few days before school lets out to get your food shopping done. Then schedule a different kind of play date with your kids – a combination chopping, slicing, dicing and grating party. Pick up some inexpensive chopping mats and assign stations based on each child’s skill level.

For example:

•    Little ones could juice lemons or crunch up stale bread for breadcrumbs.
•    Careful grade schoolers could grate cheese or measure oil, sugar or other ingredients.
•    Older children could be instructed and supervised in dicing vegetables. Make sure that your knives are sharp, since dull knives are more likely to slip rather than cut.

Bring autumn beauty indoors. Give your spouse and kids a list of everyone who’ll be attending the holiday meal. Then, give each a small bag of snacks and send them on a nature hunt to search for a colorful fallen leaf or perfect acorn for each Thanksgiving Day guest. Once they return with their autumn treasures, have them create personalized dinner-table place cards using construction paper or card stock, scissors, glue and colored pencils.

Not only will holiday guests cherish handmade pieces, but you’ll have given everyone in your family a chance to participate in the Thanksgiving dinner preparation and express their creativity, and you’ll have the satisfaction of having taken a collaborative approach.

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