12 Thanksgiving Tables for Kids That Set Up Fun Crafts and Activities
Gathering for the big feast may sound like a joy for all, but sitting through the long meal can be a challenge for little ones. A specially decorated kids' table—complete with quiet activities and games—will ensure a pleasant holiday for everyone.
If you're like most people, your Thanksgiving checklist was made well in advance of the holiday; planning an indulgent menu and coming up with creative ways to connect with 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 the children is duly important. And 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. 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 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. Art supplies find their way onto the kids' table for many of our tabletop ideas—everything from crayons to stickers and stamps used to decorate elements like table runners or even the cutlery or disposable flatware they're using to enjoy their meal. 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.
To pump more fun into your Thanksgiving kids' table, make little diners the marshals of their very own parade. This New York City–scape was inspired by a clever one created by crafter Brittany Watson Jepsen, the creative genius behind the DIY blog, The House That Lars Built (find her on Instagram @houselarsbuilt). Instead of cardboard boxes, we used colored railroad board to make favorite landmarks; and designed templates for the Empire State and Chrysler buildings that you can get here. Rather than cartoon characters (so cute), we floated Japanese paper animal balloons, which are "tied" to the buildings or to wooden toy car place cards. The best part? Everyone gets a front-row seat.
Turkey Table Settings
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.
This table has it all: 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 Tic-Tac-Toe Stencil, 10", $16, thestencilsmith.com; ArtMinds Wooden Disks, 1.5", $4.50, michaels.com; Martha Stewart Family-Friendly Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint, $2.49, michaels.com; ArtMinds Mom & Dad Dolls, $2, michaels.com; ArtMinds Wooden Alphabet Tiles, $6, michaels.com; Creatology Wooden Alphabet Beads, $7.50, michaels.com; Bead Landing Faux-Suede Cording, $8, michaels.com.
Coloring Place Mats
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.
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.
Whimsical Woodland Theme
Here's a lesson on how to transition holidays in your décor—and at the kids' table. The overall look of the tablescape is casual but inviting, and it is perfect for guests of all ages. Christmas-style crackers take the shape of turkeys and reindeer faces take the shape of party plates. Pumpkins, fall flowers, and richly textured fabrics for the table linens give the table an indulgent feel.
Pay homage to 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).
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.
Shop Now: Creatology Basic Felt, 39¢ a sheet, michaels.com.
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.
An Exercise in Gratitude
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 afternoon long.
Colorful Table Runner
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
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.