Tips for a Stress Free Turkey Day with Kids
Halloween is officially over. Before you have time to eat all your kids’ candy and put away their costumes, it’s time to move onto Thanksgiving. Whether you’re hosting 20 people or traveling to the other coast this holiday, it can be overwhelming when you have kids in tow. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. We promise it’s possible! That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our tried-and-true tips to have a stress-free Turkey Day with kids.
Delegate the menu.
Entertaining can be exhausting. Add kids to the mix and it’s amazing if you don’t lose your sanity on a holiday where you can feel pressure to whip up everything from scratch. You don’t have to do it all. Ask everyone to chip in by bringing a dish. Perhaps as the host, you can take on turkey duties. Then, request guests to supply sides or desserts. And don’t hesitate to pick up some prepared items from the grocery store. That’s what they’re made for.
Prep kid-friendly activities.
If the weather cooperates and your home is suitable, send kids in the yard for a game of football or a scavenger hunt. If you have to stay indoors, hunt down some crafts on Pinterest. Kids can write names on place cards or design guests’ placemats. They’ll stay occupied while making something that adds a personal touch to the holiday table. Or, dust off the board games for everyone to duke it out in a family Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit battle.
Travel at off-peak times.
Traveling is stressful in itself. It’s even more so when you’re doing it with kids. Instead of setting yourself up for disaster, try to avoid traveling at peak times. You may consider flying on Thanksgiving Day or the day after, which is often less busy and cheaper, than the Wednesday rush. The less craziness, the better, when kids are involved.
Make some kid-friendly fare.
You can’t serve caviar and expect the kids to eat it up. Don’t make things hard on yourself by being a short-order cook for picky eaters. Save the fancy and sophisticated recipes for another day. For appetizers, set out some pretzels, crackers, or carrot sticks and hummus. Sides can include kid faves like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or buttered rolls. For dessert, serve some chocolate chip cookies or fruit salad. Or, put out sugar cookies, sprinkles and icing tubes. Kids—and adults!—can decorate their desserts.
Plan for spills and stains.
When kids are abound, messes are destined to happen. Keep a supply of paper towels and carpet cleaner on hand to wipe up the inevitable spill of cranberry sauce or red wine. Use paper or plastic plates for the younger set. Don’t be afraid to put a tablecloth or newspaper underneath a toddler’s seat to keep the carpet intact. If you use a cleaning service, schedule them for the day after Thanksgiving so you don’t spend all Thursday night sweeping up crumbs. And if you don’t use one regularly, consider investing the service for this holiday.
Stick to your schedule.
If baby takes two naps, follow that routine. If your toddler eats lunch at 11:30 a.m., don’t stray from it. Kids often need the structure of their schedules, especially if they’re traveling or with unfamiliar people. Stick to your rules—even if your mother in law rolls her eyes.
Assign age-appropriate chores.
A lot needs to be done before, during and after this big event. Kids can take on chores like cleaning up the playroom or dusting the corners for cobwebs. Give your partner and guests tasks like setting the table or running out for anything you’ve forgotten. That will free you to baste the turkey and prepare the stuffing.