So you’ve channeled your inner Martha, and your Thanksgiving table decorations are dazzling. The Waterford crystal sparkles and the napkins you monogrammed by hand are wrinkle free.
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the kids’ table, where the décor can—to say the least—be a little more casual.
If your creative juices are still flowing, though, don’t just set out paper plates and a plastic tablecloth.
Kids want to feel special, too, so here are some ways to create a Thanksgiving kids’ tablescape the children will love.
Choose a Thanksgiving Color Scheme
Most people think of red, orange, yellow and brown when Thanksgiving comes around.
Why not use a different color combination, like brown and purple, purple and silver, cranberry and sky blue or lime green and tangerine? Brighter colors might appeal more to kids.
Select a Thanksgiving Tablecloth
You don't have to use your grandmother’s finest linen on the kids’ table, but some sort of cloth cover will help elevate the day for kids.
- You might find a fun Thanksgiving-motif fabric at a local sewing store. Just buy a piece that’s at least a foot larger than the tabletop on all sides, hem the edges and you have a tablecloth you can use year after year.
- Don’t sew? Use no-sew fusible tape to hem the fabric’s raw edges.
- Another tablecloth idea is to use a solid-colored cotton tablecloth and have the kids sign their names, doodle or write what they’re thankful for using permanent fabric pens. It could be a tradition you repeat year after year, resulting in a tablecloth you’ll all treasure down the road.
- If you’re crafty, have the kids use water-soluble pens instead, and then embroider over their words after the holiday is over.
- Paper does have its place, if you’d prefer the convenience of it. Spread out plain butcher paper and let the kids create their own original drawings or print and tape together several Thanksgiving coloring pages to make your own paper tablecloth. Place a bowl of crayons or colored pencils atop the table so kids have all they need to get creative as they wait for the meal.
- Another idea is to use a map as the tablecloth and then make paper boats—mimicking the Mayflower—that you either scatter around the table as decorations or use as place cards.
Making Place Cards
Speaking of place cards, they’re a fun craft for kids to make on Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas:
- Have the kids collect pinecones. Let the pinecones dry, and then cover them with a spray adhesive or brush on regular white glue and sprinkle glitter on top while the glue is still wet. After the glue dries, insert a piece of paper between the pinecones' scales with each child’s name written on it.
- Paint small pumpkins with guests names and use them as place markers. Another idea is to paint one letter on each pumpkin to spell out a word or message such as "Harvest" or "Give Thanks." Line them on a table runner down the center of the table so kids can read the message as they enjoy their meal.
- Make pumpkin-shaped place cards using strips of construction paper, a stapler and hole puncher.
- Pears—real pears—make lovely place cards and a healthy addition to dinner. Place the pear on top of the dinner plate and then attach a name card to it by punching a hole in the paper and tying the name card to the pear’s stem with ribbon or string.
- Use rubber stamps to decorate place cards made out of cardstock or construction paper.
- Make turkey place cards out of construction paper.
- The possibilities for Thanksgiving place cards are endless. Use your imagination.
Thanksgiving Party Favors
Favors certainly shouldn’t be expected to be given out at Thanksgiving dinner, but presenting them at the table could be a way to add decor and keep the kids occupied during dinner.
Here are some ideas:
- Thanksgiving coloring books
- Jigsaw puzzles (be sure you choose an age-appropriate puzzle for each child)
- Thanksgiving stickers
- Thanksgiving stencils
- A Thanksgiving book, such as
Other Table Details
When setting a table, we often forget to decorate the chairs. Have the kids use fabric markers to decorate pillowcases in a Thanksgiving theme. Slip the finished projects over the chair backs to create fun dining chair covers.
If you don’t have time to put in that much effort, simply tie a pretty ribbon to the back of the chair with a pine cone or other item from nature attached. Kids of almost any age can help make that decoration.
Other table details to consider:
- Turkey-shaped napkin rings
- Napkins folded into the shape of turkeys
- Battery-operated candles for safe ambiance.
- Serving bowls shaped like pumpkins or serving bowls made from actual pumpkins.
Getting the big dinner on the table is enough work in itself, so don’t fret if you can’t pull together an over-the-top kids’ table in time for Thanksgiving. The children will enjoy even just one or two kid-friendly details, especially if those details are decorations or activities that they helped create.
Updated by Christine Gauvreau