One of my favorite things about November is how just about every parent I know is trying to make a more intentional effort to instill an attitude of gratitude in their children.
Between gearing up for Thanksgiving followed by the official season of gift-giving with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, now is an ideal time each year to involve our kids in the WHY behind the WHAT.
Rather than just getting them dressed, in the car with two (preferably matching) shoes on, and on our merry way, I would love to encourage you to consider one additional thing this holiday season:
How can you engage your children in a Friendsgiving gathering?
While having a kid in at least borderline clean clothes and arriving somewhere on time is a success for any mom in and of itself, I think there is more we can aim for as we approach the holidays. This isn't to put more pressure on your already weighed down role as super mom, but rather to reflect on something I shared about in my Instagram stories last week:
Reclaiming the FUN in motherhood.
It is SO easy this time of year to get wrapped up in all the to do's, gifts to get, places to go, and people to see that the plans of getting little people properly dressed and out the door becomes THE goal. So can we just commit to take a step back and maybe even entertain the idea of a yoga pants and mom bun dress code when inviting others into our homes?
Because as fun as it is to get dressed up and "actually do something" these days, there is something to be said for the legit Friendsgiving gathering that gives us a more authentic opportunity to see all there is to be thankful for, including friends, family, and wholesome food.
So whether your Thanksgiving is filled with local friends, visiting family, or a combination of the two, this month's collaboration with my sweet friend Ashley from The Littles & Me is meant to help you cultivate thanks and reclaim the fun WITH your kids. We hope you enjoy the ideas shared in this post!
Below are kid-friendly menu ideas for Friendsgiving plus some festive ideas for table settings.
Be sure to then check out The Littles & Me for more ideas on Friendsgiving activities for kids!
Kid-Friendly Friendsgiving Menu
Turkey Veggie Platter
Want to know how to get your littles to eat a few more healthy foods this holiday season? Make them as inviting (if not more) than those you'd prefer them eating less of! This turkey veggie platter is a great thing to set out for snacking before your Friendsgiving meal. Better yet, have your child(ren) help pick which veggies will make up the feathers then help arrange them.
While this turkey veggie platter may not travel well, it is easy to assemble on site. Just bring your grocery bag full of a few different colored vegetable items and some dip. Then when you get to whichever friend may be hosting your Friendsgiving, just put it together there in less time than it would take to bake or make something else!
For our turkey, we used features made of: romaine, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and baby carrots. The turkey head was made from a white mushroom and eyes were olive slices. The turkey's beak and wattle was made from two colors of bell pepper, as was the bowl for the veggie dip. We used the Siggis ranch dip recipe here, but hummus would also be a tasty option!
For a fun and festive yet easy main course idea, make a turkey sandwich! You can fill it with a variety of ingredients and combinations, but we stayed true to a "turkey sandwich" and used all-natural turkey and sliced cheddar cheese between two slices of softer than usual whole wheat bread (so the bird didn't fall apart!). Just cut your sandwich into a circle using a cookie cutter, then you're ready to have your kiddos assemble the rest. Find a variety of apple types to vary the colors of the feathers, then use an apple cutter to core and cut into sections. Add a small triangle of sliced cheese for the beak. Raisins make an easy option for eyes, or you can plan a bit more ahead and use extra-fun eye ideas like these or these (affiliate links).
Do you still have any ice cream cones lingering in the pantry since this past Summer? Well now is the perfect time to bust those out and put them to good use as cornucopias on your Friendsgiving menu. Easier than those you have to bake in a cone shape, these can be filled with popcorn for a festive tribute to our nation's pilgrims! Just be sure to use caution if offering to small children, as popcorn is a choking hazard for kids under four. With little turkeys who may not be ready for popcorn yet, offer Kix cereal as a safe corn-based option instead!
For an easy, inexpensive, all-natural popcorn, use my DIY microwave popcorn recipe here.
Dried Apple Chips
The Washingtonian in me can't do Fall without also including apples! Something I love even more is the excuse to soften up these crunchy Fall favorites to make them even easier for my 21 month old to eat and yet equally enjoyable to the rest of us.
That's why I was excited to try this dried apple recipe from Eating Well. Using only an oven (as I don't yet own a dehydrator), we were able to make some softer dried apples as well as crisper apple chips to enjoy as the fruit component to our Friendsgiving.
Need a shortcut? Buy some already dehydrated apple chips at the store (like these by Bare) and enjoy all the same! They aren't organic nor as cost-effective but in the spirit of ease, are a great time-saving option.
Friendsgiving Tablescape for Kids
Want to know one of the best ways to keep your children both occupied AND engaged as you prepare to host a Friendsgiving (or Thanksgiving) meal? Assign them age-appropriate tasks that they can take pride in! These are a few of my family's favorites:
I love the hands on idea Ashley shared in her Friendsgiving post here! See the example in the image above.
Setting the Table
Let your child pick out some festive and inexpensive items at the Dollar Store to set your Friendsgiving table with. While this isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option, it gives your child the freedom to set the table without fear of breaking their grandmother’s heirloom china. It also means no dishes for mama, so that’s a win win!
Help your child to count the number of place settings needed, space them out around the table appropriately, then add in plates, cups, and plasticware. For a final touch, have them add the napkin to festive napkin rings (see the next idea).
Turkey Napkin Rings
Inspired by my friend Ludavia at The Mama Workshop, I just can't get over the cuteness of these easy napkin rings. We have been saving toilet paper rolls for the past few weeks so we would have enough tubes to make these, but you could totally use a paper towel roll cut up too if you are short on time! Regardless, all you have to do is trace and cut out your child's hand on Fall colored construction paper and you have an adorable, economical way to decorate the table.
If your child is able to write their letters, this is also a great excuse to have them practice spelling the names of those they are thankful for. Make little name cards to put out on the table and have your child write each person’s name on each to be set out at their spot at the table.
Ready for more ways to create FUN with your little turkeys for a Friendsgiving (or Thanksgiving) gathering?
Hop on over to Ashley's post on the Littles & Me to see all these activity ideas: