10 Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids Seated at the Table
It may not have a fancy wine list or heirloom china, but the kids' table is definitely the best seat in the house. It's where basic butcher paper transforms into a sweet sailing vessel, fall's finest jewelry, and more. When you stop and think about it, Thanksgiving is a time for holiday inspiration. And, as with any day of the year, kids find inspiration in all sorts of arts. Youngsters will delight in a view of the woodland animals, turkeys, and gourds when you place them on their table along with a basketful of pom-poms or a smattering of leaf crafts.
Fun crafts and activities will keep them happily occupied in the hours leading up to the big family feast. For the youngest of guests, sensory activities that help them explore shapes and textures—like pom-pom turkeys, felt foliage, or cute leaf animals—will encourage them to be hands on. For older guests, dole out the arts and crafts supplies they need to make their own turkey hats, leaf-and-pasta leis, or cornhusk dolls. Even better? All of these are mess-free ideas. We have plenty of printable templates and clip-art designs to suit any type of project. A place mat or tablecloth that doubles as a larger-than-life coloring page, complete with crayons, will be a guaranteed hit. Of course, young guests of all ages will enjoy a round of trivia—try our name-the-states game with printable player cards.
Want a seat at the most fun table this holiday season? Unfortunately, it's fully booked. But if you behave, the younger generation just might share their supply of fun craft supplies.
The cornucopia horn of plenty is in for some good-natured competition. As harvest-time icons go, we much prefer the simple beauty of corn-husk dolls: They're understated, easy to make even for children, and truly ingenious—requiring not much more than some husks, twine, glue, and felt.
Paper Turkey Hat
Get your flock into the festive spirit by rocking these bright tail feathers. Prep headbands for little ones to color in; bigger kids can assemble their own before dinner. Download and print the turkey template; cut out from paper using scissors. Trace onto butcher paper and cut out as many as needed for your crew. (Note: Two cut-outs for each person is ideal—gluing two together makes a sturdier headband.) Cut 12-inch half-circles out of scrapbook paper for tails, and cut notches into edges. Wrap a turkey crown around each child's head to fit, then secure with dots of glue or staples; attach a tail to each the same way.
Shop Now: Ella & Viv by Reminisce Scrapbook Collection Kit, in Multicolor, $11, amazon.com.
Give "aloha!" an autumnal twist: Embellish string necklaces with paper leaves (cut out a big pile with a craft punch) and colorful organic pasta. Cut leaves out of butcher paper with punches. Show kids how to sandwich twine between two leaves with glue, and thread twine through pasta or secure it with knots to create necklaces.
Shop Now: Punch Bunch Mega Giant Punches, in Maple Leaf and Oak Leaf, $24 each, amazon.com.
Kids' hands and mouths will be occupied until the turkey's sliced—creating these a-maize-ing snack-filled cones from two different colors of butcher paper. Cut two sheets of butcher paper in different colors into fan shapes, one larger than the other. Trim edges with pinking shears. Roll each fan shape into a cone, sealing with glue stick. Nest long cone inside short cone, bending horn up at the tip. Fill with popcorn, and let kid crafters munch to their heart's content.
Shop Now: Fiskars Premier Pinking Shears, $29, target.com.
Coloring Place Mats
The clock is always ticking when kids have to sit down to a holiday meal: How long before those rambunctious cousins stage a kids' table revolt? Eke out a little peace with these clip-art place mats (and it'll be at least 20 minutes before they ask to please be excused). To make, trim kraft paper to 11 by 17 inches, and run the sheets through your printer like regular paper. Set the place mats out on the table with some cups of crayons, and let the kids have at it.
Shop Now: Crayola Crayons with Sharpener, $3 for 64, target.com.
A little crafts project can keep kids entertained while the grown-ups prepare the big meal. This acorn family is fun to decorate and customize—and then just as fun to play with. To make, collect a bunch of acorns in a variety of sizes—turn mini acorns into babies and bigger ones into adults. Pop off each cupule "hat" and hot-glue it to a wooden ball. Then hot-glue the ball to the nut. Have the children use colored pencils or markers to draw on facial features and hair.
Shop Now: Woodworks Round Wooden Balls, 5/8", $1.50 for 10, craftparts.com.
Turkey Place Cards
If you can accordion-fold a piece of paper, you can create these colorful Thanksgiving place cards. Start by printing the turkey template onto colored card stock; cut out and write names. Accordion-fold an 8 1/2-by-3 1/2-inch piece of matching construction paper with 1/4-inch folds (a bone folder helps to crisp, clean lines). Attach the two pieces with craft glue.
This year, decorate the kids' table with pilgrim-hat serving cups and Mayflower-sail straws. Start with nine-ounce paper cups in black and gold; download and print templates. For the sails, cut out the templates, trace them onto heavy paper, cut them out, and punch holes as indicated. Write a name on each and slide it onto a straw. For the hat, use a craft knife to cut away the bottom of a black cup. Cut out the brim template, trace it onto black paper, and cut it out. With white glue, attach it to the cup rim. For the buckle-embellishment, see the template.
Pilgrim Hats and Bonnets
Easily crafted with a few folds, these paper hats and bonnets get kids into character as Pilgrims (let them fight over the drumsticks—and who gets to be Miles Standish). To make the hat, download our template for the hat front and buckle, and trace them onto drawing paper, top. Cut out the buckle. Cut out the silhouette of the hat, then fold up the brim. Cut out the headband; rest it inside the fold of the brim, and secure with a dot of glue. Note that cutting the gold buckle can be tricky; it's best done by an elder of the settlement (aka Mom or Dad). Glue buckle onto hat, above brim. Wrap headband around head, and secure with a dot of glue (or tape).
To make the bonnet, Use a 1 1-by-17-inch piece of heavy-stock paper and two 24-inch lengths of binding. Mark 1 1/2 inches from top edge of paper, then use ruler to draw a dotted fold line, top. Use a hole punch to make a hole on each side, 1/2 inch beneath fold line and 1/2 inch from edge. Mark spots 5 1/2 inches from each bottom edge, then make a 3-inch vertical cut line from each point. Fold across the dotted line to make the cuff; thread ribbon through each hole. Fold bottom corners inward to create the back of the bonnet and secure with glue dots; fold down the back flap and secure with glue dots. You do the cutting, and the kids can do the gluing and tying.
Shop Now: Canson Mi-Teintes Drawing Paper, in Dark Gray and Champagne, 9" by 25", $2.63 per sheet, dickblick.com. Daler-Rowney Murano Textured Fine Art Paper, in Soft White, 9" by 25", $2.90 per sheet, dickblick.com. Glue Dots All-Purpose Adhesives, $5.59 for 300, createforless.com. The Sewing Place Rayon Seam Binding, in Daffodil, 49 cents per yd., thesewingplace.com.