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Kids in the Kitchen: Thanksgiving Crafts, Helping Hands, and a Lesson in Gratitude

The “Kids in the Kitchen” blog series, brought to you by Whole Kids Foundation®, includes tips and tricks to encourage kids’ participation in all kitchen activities — especially in meal planning, prepping, serving and eating. Give kids good choices, and they’ll make good choices!

As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast, remember that children are great helpers. Kids can chop, blend and stir, speeding up prep work while serving up quality time. Little hands can also help you create eco-inspired DIY centerpieces to complete your seasonal spread.  This time of year is a great opportunity to promote togetherness and gratitude and encourage your children to practice mindful exercises and crafts. Here are some ideas to get started:

Photo: AlbionGould.com

A Feast for the Eyes: DIY Centerpieces

On the days leading up to Thanksgiving, ask the little ones in your family to help set and decorate the table. The whole family can take a walk to scour the outdoors for sticks, leaves, acorns and rocks. Combine them with jars, ribbon and burlap and even cinnamon sticks — whatever is on hand works — for an easy fall candle centerpiece. Here are a few other ideas:

●      Pinecone lovers rejoice! Pinecone turkeys are quirky and have a small footprint on an overflowing table.

●      Looking for an eco-friendly way to allow kids to put their unique stamp on decorations? These gobble pops are it!

●      Time to practice bow tying for these fall candles — just use leaves and twine for simple beauty.

You can also head over to Whole Kids Club for even more seasonal, hands-on crafts fit for little ones.

Thanksgiving Day: How Kids Can Help

Prepare your Thanksgiving dinner based on your family’s needs: Feasts for four have vastly different demands than feasts for fifty. Keep your menu to the dressed-up essentials. This will help minimize food prep so you can spend more face-time with friends and family.

●      Supervise age-appropriate knife practice when chopping fruits and vegetables, always using a sharp blade (sharp is actually safer than dull!)

●      Engage young children with stirring and sifting of ingredients for pie fillings, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc.

●      Encourage children to taste and test the fruits of their labor! Kids who cook meals are excited to eat them, too.

●      Ask kids to set the table and fold napkins.

Give kids ample space to work and ensure countertops are waist-high for ease and safety of movement. And, feel free to turn meal prep into a family party complete with music and healthy snacks.

Embracing the Holiday Spirit: Lessons in Gratitude

While Thanksgiving is commonly associated with lavish spreads of poultry, produce and pie, the holiday’s true meaning is rooted in gratitude and kinship. Help your children learn and practice the act of gratitude through seasonal crafts and exercises:

●      Make it a month-long commitment by keeping gratitude journals, writing down something for which you are grateful every day.

●      Practice the art of acknowledgment with kids.

●      Create a DIY gratitude tree, a hands-on craft that doubles as décor — bonus points for using recycled paper!

For more holiday inspiration — and to enter to win groceries for a year for you and a friend — head to Whole Foods Market’s holiday headquarters.