Thanksgiving activities are a great way for everyone to have fun. They solve the age old question…once the meal is finished, what now? Doing the dishes doesn’t count.
Thanksgiving is a day that focuses on one rather large fabulous meal. It is the memory and anticipation of this meal that makes mouths water for months before and after. But what else is there to do? The traditional festivities of Thanksgiving dictate very little else. If the post turkey consumption staring contest, nap or sports center report have lost their thrill, it might be time to try something new with a few Thanksgiving activities sure to entertain.
Many of us spent the Thanksgivings of our youth at Grandma’s house. Grandma sometimes lived in a tiny little flyspeck of a town in the absolute middle of nowhere, but we loved it there. In spite of no TV reception, malls, movie theaters, or even gas stations there was always something to do. Some of the most memorable Thanksgiving activities from those times are still enjoyed today…like the following:
Take a Walk
It sounds simple, but there is no better answer to ‘what are we gonna do now?’ Than lacing up the sneakers and getting moving. While you walk, as we did, you can discuss the sights and sounds that you observe and list reasons for gratitude. Playing simple games like eye spy or trying to name the birds by their songs adds a dimension of play. We would also walk past places of significance to our family’s history. We loved to hear stories about our grandparent’s first home, or see the chicken coup that housed a notoriously blood thirsty rooster. These stories are what I prized most. Walking past the actual site of occurrence is not important, just relating the tales to the children is more than enough.
If the walk is taken before the big meal it will get the kids out from under your feet in the kitchen. The help my aunts could have been was small in comparison with the service of removing 10 plus sets of busy little fingers from the food prep area. I often suspect the removal of extra ‘help’ is where the idea of an annual walk originated.
Make Homemade Butter
If getting rid of kitchen helpers is not your idea of a good time, try incorporating smaller less experienced hands by adding tasks that are fun and easy. We always arranged the veggie, and deli trays. The feeling of accomplishment and contribution was great. Other tasks youngsters can help with in the kitchen include setting the table, whipping cream, sneaking taste tests, putting marshmallows on the yams, and placing the rolls in a basket.
One very memorable year we made butter. Before your drift off into visions of cows and a butter churn, let me assure you it was nothing like that and you can do it later today if you’d like. The only equipment needed is a clean jar with a tightly fitting lid. Ingredients are simple: heavy whipping cream. (It should be fresh, not from the cow, but never frozen.) OK, you’ve caught the vision: no cows, no churns and no bonnets. To make butter, put the cream in the jar and close the lid tightly. Give the jar to the children and tell them to get shaking. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour for the butter to form, depending on how vigorous and constant the jar is being shaken. Arms do tend to tire, so it is a good idea to have several potential jar shakers on hand. The butter will appear as a cohesive glob in the jar. Once the butter lump appears continue to shake for several minutes longer to let it set up more, and to let any additional butter form. When done, proudly place your homemade butter on the table. Note: this is pure butter, no salt or yellow coloring added so while it will taste fabulous, it might be different in taste or appearance from what you are used to.
Cooking together really gets at the heart of Thanksgiving. Children love to help in the kitchen. It may take a bit longer, and clean up may be a bit more than it would be if you cooked alone, but there are compensations. Chief among them: picky eaters become less so as they help prepare their own food. A cooking activity works best with simple, easily constructed recipes are used. For Thanksgiving Corn bread is not only simple but delicious. Here is a fun recipe you can try together:
Grease and flour 8×8 pan, preheat oven to 425
Combine in bowl:
1 cup corn meal
1c sifted flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
In another bowl combine and add to dry ingredients:
1 beaten egg
¼ cup oil
1 cup milk
Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Visit a Farm
There is never a better time to take a drive in the country than at Thanksgiving. The richness of fall colors and smells will yield a feast for the senses. Many farms open their fields to the public this time of year. Activities that you can look forward to include perusing a wide variety of farm fresh produce. This will include several Thanksgiving favorites like corn and pumpkins. But the variety is likely to amaze. Some farms offer apple picking, and demonstrations on apple pressing. It is fun to see how the apple becomes juice. Don’t get so caught up in the produce that you fail to see the animals. There are many to get acquainted with like bulls and large horses. Some of the less intimidating residents may even be available to hold and pet. Kids love goats, rabbits, piggys and even the more common cat and dog.
Seeing the genesis of the harvest and its bounty is a great activity to commemorate Thanksgiving.
Other fun Thanksgiving activities to do as a family are: a drive to collect the turning leaves, creating a center piece for the table, watching a movie or inventing a new Thanksgiving sport. Spending time together, no matter how simple the activity, helps create Thansgiving memories for everyone.