11 Thanksgiving Tables for Kids That Set Up Fun Crafts and Activities
If you're like most people, your Thanksgiving checklist was made well in advance of the holiday; creating a delicious, thoughtful three-course menu and coming up with creative ways to entertain friends and family is likely at the top of your list. But have you thought about your littlest guests? Making Thanksgiving just as memorable for your the children attending your holiday celebration requires a bit of planning, too. As it turns out, some of the best solutions for keeping kids happy and occupied for hours on end revolve around the table itself.
These playful tablescape ideas are composed of fun, engaging elements that will thrill the kids throughout dinner—even if your Thanksgiving feast lasts several hours. While a few of our ideas might be easily found at your local party store, most are simple, no-fuss crafts that you can prepare beforehand, allowing your kids to (quietly) entertain themselves while you wine and dine guests in another space. You'll still be able to incorporate all of your usual Thanksgiving elements—from imaginative place cards to scaled-down centerpieces and servings of everything from mashed potatoes to pie—with these youthful takes on Thanksgiving splendor.
This interactive tabletop spread for little ones is a good example of a successful Thanksgiving table; it's a streamlined approach that allows kids to interact with their surroundings, beyond bites of turkey, potatoes, and peas. Art supplies find their way onto the kids' table for many of our Thanksgiving tabletop ideas—everything from crayons to stickers and stamps used to decorate elements like table runners or even the cutlery or disposable dishware they're using to enjoy their meal.
Most of these ideas call for simple supplies you may already have in your crafting arsenal; think about ways to make your tablescape as interactive as possible while allowing some space for the actual meal, too. Follow along as we share our best ideas for delightful Thanksgiving fun that will make even adults feel like they can't miss a trip to the kids' table.
Turkey Table Setting Idea
Here, we're highlighting Martha Stewart Weddings' editor at large Darcy Miller's interactive tabletop spread for her little ones. The table is candle-lit (topped with flameless, battery-powered candles for age-appropriate safety), and features her curated party store finds. Every detail on the table is special: She embellishes paper cups with glitter leaf stickers and crafts turkey-themed place cards for each child using a paper punch.
Party Zone Table Idea
Since they're not exactly big on small talk, gourmet canapés, or relaxing with a cocktail, the youngest of your esteemed guests may start getting antsy before the bird gets carved. To keep the potentially squirmy child seated and happy sans screens, serve up activities so tempting, adults may ask, "Exactly how strict is the age limit at the kids' table?"
Turn a linen runner into Activity Alley with fabric paint and game stencils. Paint or number wooden rounds for the pieces. Top kids' napkins with wooden dolls (otherwise known as proto-Legos) wearing acorn top berets and ribbon scarves, and set out markers so they can fill in the details. Make "place cards" from alphabet tiles that kids can swap, spell with, and take home as souvenirs. Fill bowls with necklace- or bracelet-making supplies for junior jewelers.
Shop Now: The Stencilsmith Game-Board Stencil, 10", $13.50, thestencilsmith.com. The Stencilsmith Tic-Tac-Toe Stencil, 10", $16, thestencilsmith.com. ArtMinds Wooden Disks, 1.5", $4.50, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint, in Deep Sea, $9.50, michaels.com. Jacquard Textile Colors Fabric Paint, in Brown, $4.75, dickblick.com. ArtMinds Mom & Dad Dolls, $2, michaels.com. Linge Particulier Linen Napkins, in Brown Gingham, $15, shopthemansion.com. ArtMinds Wooden Alphabet Tiles, $6, michaels.com. Factory Direct Craft Assorted Round Wooden Beads, $5.75, factorydirectcraft.com. Creatology Wooden Alphabet Beads, $7.50, michaels.com. Bead Landing Faux-Suede Cording, $8, michaels.com.
Thanksgiving Coloring Place Mat Idea
Keep the little tykes entertained in between courses and after dessert with these custom-printed Thanksgiving place mats. You can run sheets of regular craft paper through your home printer in order to create your place mat—use our template to create a fun Thanksgiving scene that the kids can bring to life with crayons throughout the evening.
Shop Now: ReCollections Kraft Printer-Friendly Paper, $6, michaels.com.
Embellished Napkin Idea
The table's runner isn't the only thing that can serve as a blank canvas for your kids' Thanksgiving spread. Here, craft stamps soaked on ink pads are pressed against paper napkins for fun; the same stamps can be used on any disposable placemat or table runner, too.
Shop Now: Oriental Trading Fall Pumpkin Stampers, 24 for $7, orientaltrading.com.
Martha's Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Table Idea
Here's a lesson on how to use centerpieces at the kids' table. The overall look of the tablescape is casual but inviting, and it is perfect for guests of all ages. "I wanted the table to be seasonal, indicative of turkeys and harvest, and I wanted everything to be for the children," Martha writes in her guide to DIY turkey decorations.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection "Large Wax Turkey" Flameless Candle with Remote, $60, qvc.com.
Paper Pilgrims' Thanksgiving Table Idea
Remember the Mayflower and give the little ones a fun way to play out scenes from the first Thanksgiving. Make a mini Mayflower centerpiece: A sheet of torn-edged watercolor paper becomes the main sail, and a blue burlap tablecloth replicates the waters of Massachusetts Bay. Hat kits are ready for each young master (boy) and goody (girl). 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).
Thanksgiving Finger-Puppets Idea
Choose from one of our three printable templates (for a turkey, pilgrim hat, or bonnet); trace them onto felt, and cut out. For the pilgrim hat, enlarge template by 50 percent on a photocopier, and trace onto felt; use contrasting colors for the hat and decorative bands. Cut out the template, and glue a thin band to the longest edge of a trapezoid before rolling it into a cylinder shape and gluing the seams. Brush its edges with glue to attach the cylinder to center of the doughnut-shaped brim, and affix the small circle to the top of the hat.
For the bonnet, enlarge template by 50 percent on a photocopier, and trace it onto felt; use contrasting colors for the hat and decorative bands. Then, cut it out. Glue some contrasting trim to the long edge of T-shaped felt piece. Proceed by making tiny holes in the T-shaped piece as indicated on the template. Fold the T-flap down, and pull side flaps in; glue edges together to form bonnet. Use a needle to thread 1/8-inch-wide ribbon through the holes on the bonnet flaps, and knot at the center.
For the turkey, enlarge the template by 50 percent on a photocopier. Then, trace the template onto some felt. You'll need at least four colors: two for the tail feathers and wattle, one for the body, and one for the beak. Cut out the shapes, using pinking shears for the scallop-edged pieces. Continue by gluing the small tail piece to the larger one with the straight edges flush. Sew the long edge of the completed tail piece to the center of the back of the body. Then glue the wattle to the front of the body, and stitch the beak just above its wattle. Sew on seed beads for eyes. Finally, stitch each body half together to form a tube, and leave the straight end open.
Thanksgiving Pocket Napkin Place Setting Idea
You can encourage the kids to participate in giving thanks this holiday, even if they don't go around the table sharing their thoughts individually. Stitch patches onto linen napkins; then tuck a mini pencil and a personalized note into the napkin. Ask your little ones to write something while they're waiting to be served.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Collection "Harvest Orange" Hemstitch Linen Dinner Napkins, 4 for $22, amazon.com.
Printable Thanksgiving Placemats Place Setting Idea
A hybrid opportunity for kids to reflect and have fun, this custom place mat serves as a coloring page and a chance for kids to share their thoughts. Download our template and run a few sheets of craft paper (trimmed to 12 by 18 inches) through your home printer; alongside crayons, colored pencils, and markers, kids will be occupied all night long.
Colorful Kids' Table Runner Idea
Turn a table runner into a coloring book—our twist on connect-the-dots kids' place mats in restaurants. If you don't have access to a printer, use large, linear stamps instead; roll out a length of white kraft paper at the kids' table, stamp a design down the center for them to color in, and then set out a cup of crayons or pencils.
Playful Turkey Pom Poms Place Setting Idea
You'll have to spend hours preparing an actual edible bird—but our pom-pom toms will fulfill many of your holiday decorating needs in a fraction of the time. The kids will delight in a bird's eye view of the creatures when you place them, along with a basket of pom-pom pumpkins and a smattering of felt foliage, on their table. To make the turkey shown here, we added red yarn to a 10-inch pom-pom and used some brown yarn for its body.
Shop Now: Kid Made Jumbo Pom Poms, 30 for $2.49, target.com.