5 Top Thanksgiving Ideas to Get The Kids Involved

Every holiday season is an especially busy time for nannies; there are particular meals and desserts to prepare, decorating to do, sometimes presents to buy and wrap, and “good” clothes to ensure are clean and pressed. These additional responsibilities – plus having the children home from school – add plenty to your already-packed schedule. But there’s no need to be concerned about keeping your charges occupied while you’re trying to get everything ready; there are plenty of activities you can involve them in, making their lives fun and your life easier.

We have some ideas here for you, but you know your family best; surely there are lots of others you can dream up on your own. But one thing’s true for all families, no matter their size, shape or age… if it sounds like fun, they’ll climb on board and get right into the swing of it.

1. Ask For Their Help Planning The Meal

Every family has special Thanksgiving dishes they wouldn’t dream of going without on the big day. Whether it’s turkey or ham, a vegan quiche or an “everything” salad, Thanksgiving brings with it many recipes that families put their own unique touch on. Some stuff the turkey with walnuts and apples, while others go for sage and breadcrumbs. No matter what the twist may be, it’s likely up to you to ensure the food passes the family “yum!” test! So get the children involved in the planning and shopping. Ask what kind of pie they like (apple or pumpkin, or both?) and in no time they’ll be enthusiastic about helping you. They may even want to go shopping, or help you chop the many ingredients this annual meal demands, so do yourself and your employer a favor, and say, “yes!” Tie an apron around their waists on cooking day, and be sure you make it a fun adventure. They’ll have a great time, you’ll get a little help, and before you know it the kids will be asking if they can help at Christmas, too.

2. Make Some Decorations

Check with your employer that it’s okay to go shopping with the kids for construction paper, colorful pens, strings and maybe some easy-to-use paste or glue. Take a walk around the neighbourhood and check out how others are making their homes festive. Then ask the kids what they would like to create — a drawing of the Pilgrims, or a paper mache turkey, perhaps? Thanksgiving has some wonderful traditions in every family, and each one has different ideas about what decorations represent the holiday. Find out, and take your arts and crafts project from there.

3. Get Their Help Setting The Table

Many families get out the good china for this holiday, so making this task seem like a grown up responsibility will no doubt have them clamouring to help. Just clear this with your employer first; you don’t want to risk a five-year-old dropping grandma’s ancient but valuable china gravy boat! If that is a risk, have them lay out the napkins and silver instead — just as much fun with none of the danger.

4. Ask Who Wants To Say Grace?

Many families take a moment to say thank you to the powers that be just before starting the Thanksgiving meal. If this is a tradition your employer wants to uphold, suggest ways the children can be involved. Ask each of them to think of, then recite a special thank you for someone or something in their lives, such as, “thank you for bringing us all together this year,” or something along those lines. If your employer isn’t particularly religious but you are, be sure you ask for an hour to go to a church service or prayers at the mosque. You’ll be glad you did, and your employer almost certainly won’t mind.

5. Help Out At A Local Charity

A nanny we know said her Thanksgiving meal never tasted as good as it did once she began volunteering at a nearby soup kitchen, feeding the homeless, a few years ago. On the day after the big meal that year, (Friday) she took supplies of homemade cookies by, then asked if she could spend the afternoon helping out, and of course her assistance was welcomed. When she told her employer and family about the experience, soon the kids were asking to go help out, too. After all, charity begins in the home, right?

We’re not suggesting you should necessarily do this, but a gesture of some kind in which the kids can get involved will get them in the spirit of the holiday. Even cleaning their rooms and collecting old clothes to donate shows they are thinking about giving back to their community, a lesson their parents (and you!) are no doubt instilling year-round.

We hope these suggestions are helpful in your particular home; no doubt there are many others you can come up with when you give it some thought. What’s important is that you think about your charges carefully, and ask them what they’d like to do to create wonderful memories this Thanksgiving. Help them make cards for their folks, if that strikes their fancy. Let them beat the eggs and flour when you’re baking cookies. Any activity that brings you together is bound to be a hit, especially if it gets them off screens and into each other! And your employers will be particularly grateful to you if the holiday runs smoothly, not a melt down or angry outburst the entire time. That’s something they will be terrifically thankful for, but it’s just another easy trick up your sleeve, because you’re a true professional nanny!