Make a spot that spikes envy in the adults.

Creating a dedicated holiday table for the kids in your family helps them create priceless memories. As you start planning your Thanksgiving setup, remember that putting together a child-friendly space doesn't have to mean choosing bright colors and themed tableware. "I love to give kids space to have fun with cousins and siblings without sitting right next to Mom and Dad," says Michelle Shuey of The Effortless Affair. "Some of my favorite holiday memories are with my cousins. My grandmother had eight children, so there were a lot of cousins and we all sat together at the kids table for Thanksgiving. We goofed off and spilled milk but we loved it and my parents got to have a glass of wine!"

Ahead, how to put together a pretty, engaging Thanksgiving table for little ones.

Choose perfectly-sized seating.

You and your cousins might have been relegated to wobbly card tables and uncomfortable piano benches at the kids' tables of your childhood, but as the host, you can do better. "I love the idea of having a child-sized table and seating," says Shuey. "If you are renting a table to add on for your guests anyway, your rental company probably has child sized tables and chairs for rent as well." Choose classic wooden cross-backs for a rustic decor, acrylic ghost chairs for a modern aesthetic, or sleek gold Chivari chairs that pop against jewel-toned tablecloths.

mother and daughter carding turkey at thanksgiving
Credit: Choreograph / Getty Images

Opt for designer disposables.

Dress the table with linens that match the adult station for a cohesive look, and then add unfussy tabletop pieces that are kid-proof and easy to clear. If you are working within a classic Thanksgiving color palette of red, gold, orange, and brown, Shuey recommends octagon-shaped gold paper plates topped with wooden side plates, leaf-shaped napkins, metallic paper cups, and wooden flatware with painted handles. Another option: Use eggplant-colored linens as a backdrop for pink chargers topped with pastel pumpkin-shaped plates, cream-colored napkins, gold-dipped wooden cutlery, and faux crystal glassware. "With this tablescape, I wanted to create something that was pretty and sophisticated, but still young," says Shuey, "with a bit of whimsy with the pumpkin plates."

Add natural elements.

Create a kid-friendly centerpiece that can stand up to accidental spills and table bumps by filling white bud vases with felt flowers in shades of mustard, ivory, rust, and olive; then arrange the vases down the center of the table and fill the space between them with mini pumpkins sourced by the kids from your local farm. Send the little ones out on Thanksgiving morning to collect fallen leaves in a variety of shapes and colors, and script each child's name onto one to use as a place card (older kids can help create these for the adult table, too).

Let them get creative.

Keep the kids occupied while the adults are having their second helpings (or third) with upscale, art-themed details that don't make your dining room look like a preschool. Lay coloring placemats on top of a tablecloth that matches the adult table, and provide coloring supplies arranged in a pretty ombré pattern. "Create a table that kids would want to be at with activities and have fun together," says Shuey. "Centerpieces should be crayons in small glass vases in varying heights that are in your tablescape's color scheme. In between the crayons, do colored pencils in the same pattern—and add a layer of craft pompoms in the same colors. On top of the wood plate, diagonally place a sheet of pumpkin decorating craft stickers (eyes, noses, mouths). Finally on top of the sticker sheet, place a small sugar pumpkin."


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