Thanksgiving dinner

The colder weather’s here and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Kids love this holiday — it’s full of their favorite foods and their favorite people!

Here are some tips for making Thanksgiving even more meaningful by getting your kids involved in preparations for your big feast.

1. Menu planning. Call a family meeting to plan the meal. Ask your kids what they’d like to see on the table. What are your family’s traditional Thanksgiving foods? Is there something new your children would like to try?

2. Table setting. Kids of all ages love crafts. Ask your kids to make placemats, centerpieces and/or name tents for your Thanksgiving table. There are lots of suggestions online and you’ll find plenty of materials at a local craft, office supply or big box store.

3. Meal preparation. Allow some extra time in the kitchen so your kids of all ages can help prepare the meal. Children from grade school on through college can help with just about any dish you’re making. Break the recipe steps down into smaller steps (measuring, peeling, chopping, blending, etc.) and assign everyone an age-appropriate task for each dish. If your menu allows, do some early prep. Our family has a tradition of all-evening cooking the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, accompanied by watching reruns of some of our favorite TV shows and eating pizza while we work together in the kitchen.

4. Greeting guests. Put your kids in charge of meeting guests at the door, taking coats and making conversation while you wait for your meal.

5. Meal blessing. Ask your kids to write a special prayer for your Thanksgiving feast.

6. Dinner games and conversation starters. Ask that all come to the table without their phones, and put your kids in charge of fun mealtime conversation starters and games. For ideas, visit this Boys Town page for parents.

Holidays are a special time to make memories that kids carry with them all their lives. It takes some time and planning, but it’s worth it. Remember — the more involved your kids are, the more meaningful your Thanksgiving will be!

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Laura Holmes Buddenberg joined Father Flanagan's Boys' Home in January 2000. As a training manager at Boys Town, Buddenberg works as an administrator, writer and trainer, specializing in teen dating and relationships, media awareness, family spirituality, abuse and other issues affecting today's families.

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