Turkey Time Traditions

Turkey Time Traditions

Turkey Time Traditions:  How to Create Thanksgiving Memories With Your Kids

Between grocery shopping, baking pies, cleaning the house and preparing for guests, Thanksgiving can end up being one big to-do list. Sometimes it just feels like a prelude to the real holiday event, Christmas. Thanksgiving isn’t just a ramp-up to Santa’s visit, however, and it shouldn’t be lost in the laundry list of chores. Here’s how to establish meaningful Thanksgiving traditions with your children:

Count Your Blessings

Photo by Flickr user deweller

At its core, Thanksgiving is a time to remember the blessings we have in our lives. Holding hands around the table and naming your blessings is the tried-and-true method, but kids will appreciate a more fun and creative approach. Stretch the gratitude out all month long and create easy holiday décor in the process by making a gratitude tree. Start by cutting out a large tree trunk shape from poster board or construction paper and taping it to a wall. Then, cut leaves from yellow, orange and red paper. Each day, have your children write one thing they are thankful for on a leaf and attach it to the tree. By month’s end you will have a wall full of blessings.

For a more lasting approach, create a Thanksgiving album by having each family member write the things they are thankful for on an index card. Place the cards, along with a photo of the family member, in the album. Each year at Thanksgiving, pull the album out and take a trip down memory lane before adding the new photos and cards. For more ideas, check out Parents.com’s slideshow of Thanksgiving craft ideas.

Preserve the Memory

Photo by Flickr user The Oliver Gallery

Schedule a few moments during the celebration to gather everybody (even your pets) for a family photo. You don’t need to be a professional photographer to capture a wonderful memory. Try to take your photo outdoors to utilize flattering, natural lighting. Don’t forget to get into the photo yourself—use the timer function on your camera or ask a neighbor to come over for a few minutes, so you aren’t stuck behind the lens.

Don’t worry if everything isn’t picture perfect; you can upload the shot to an online photo editor like FotoFlexer.com and tweak it into something you love. You can also use the image to create personalized Christmas cards at Minted.com.

Share Your Blessings

Photo by Flickr user vastateparksstaff

This is the perfect time to teach children to give back to others by volunteering. There are many simple and fun ways children can volunteer; it can be as simple as raking leaves for a neighbor or creating handmade cards for the residents of a local nursing home. Call the facility, arrange a time to visit and let your children pass out the cards they made. This simple act of kindness will put a smile of everyone’s face.

Another easy way for kids to pay their blessings forward is to donate to a food bank. Make a special trip to the grocery store, give them a set amount of money and have them select and purchase the products to donate (sneak in a nutrition lesson by discussing the importance of picking healthy foods). If you need help finding a volunteer opportunity that is right for your family, VolunteerMatch.org has many options, and you can search specifically for ones that are good for children or families.

Cook With Your Kids

Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

They might not be ready to stuff the bird just yet, but have the kids help make the meal. Little ones can arrange precut vegetables on a tray, scoop dry ingredients with measuring cups and stir batter with a spoon. School-age children can read recipes and mix ingredients. To create a lasting tradition, select one dish or dessert (such as frosted cutout cookies) and make them every year. Each year, give children a larger role in making them until they can do it all on their own. Before you know it, your kids will be making those cookies with their own kids. For more tips, FoodNetwork.com has an extensive section on cooking with kids, complete with recipes they are sure to love.


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