By Jessica Vician
Sitting down to the table on Thanksgiving is a great feeling. The cooking is done, the food smells delicious, and everyone is eagerly awaiting that first bite.
So how can you spark that good energy early and ensure everyone makes the most of the holiday before and after that meal? Encourage your kids to take advantage of their family time this year with these activities for all ages.
- Get crafty. Prepare Thanksgiving-themed art projects for your kids to do with their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Use our Pinterest board to find cute project inspiration.
- Sing a song. Rent a karaoke machine for the kids to sing their favorite songs after dinner. The adults can sit back and digest while the kids put on the show.
- Perform a play. Speaking of shows, if you have a group of future Tony Award winners in the house, ask them to put on a play at the end of the day. They’ll spend the afternoon working on the script and rehearsing, and they’ll be so excited to share their talent with the family after dinner.
Middle school kids are sometimes difficult to please. If yours like playing with younger kids, encourage them to help with the play or karaoke show. You can also try these conversation starters:
- Make it a game. Before guests arrive, challenge your child to talk to each member of your extended family by the end of the day. Give them a few questions to ask everyone throughout the day and invite your child to talk about their common threads at dinner.
- Cook together. Task your tween with a recipe and encourage them to ask an aunt, uncle, or grandparent for help. It will give them a project to work on together and spark more conversation.
- Have a deck of cards handy. Playing cards can bring the family together, as games encourage us to be competitive and rely on each other to teach and learn the rules.
Just like kids in middle school, teenagers might need a little prodding to make the most of the holiday with family. In addition to cooking together and playing cards, try these activities with your teen:
- Give them talking points. Encourage your child to ask aunts, uncles, and grandparents about their first concert, the first album they bought, or other things that interest your child. While the answers may highlight the age difference, they can also spark conversations about what it was like to live through certain decades that your teen missed out on.
- Start a new tradition. Ask your teen what kind of holiday tradition they would like to see every year. Assuming it’s doable, have your teen explain their idea to the family at dinner and start right away.
- Give your teen something to look forward to. If your teen is more focused on seeing friends, host a dessert party after dinner. Your teen can invite their friends over and the family members who are still there can meet the friends and share in that experience.
Your student coming home from college for the holiday will probably be grateful for a home cooked meal and a comfortable bed, so take advantage of that gratitude and encourage them to learn more about their other family members.
Once a person starts college, they start to see the world a little differently. Their studies are more focused on what they want to learn, not what they’re required to learn.
Embrace that shift by encouraging your student to talk to their grandparents. They have lived through a different time than your child and might shed some light on topics your child might be more interested in now.
For instance, did a grandparent serve in Vietnam? What were politics like when the grandparents were growing up? What types of shows were on television?
Not only will the grandparents want to share about their past, but your child will gain great perspective and learn something about their family that they might not have known before.
Do you have tried-and-true activities that foster family bonding over the holidays? Share your secrets below so we can try them this week!