You may have visions of the perfectly set table (à la all those home and cooking magazines out there) dancing in your head, but the reality is, kids and food equals mess, so you may want to save those pristine white napkins and silk table runners for an adults-only occasion. One of the most fun (and least stressful) ways to decorate the table for the holidays is to make your kids a part of the action. The bonus: they are busy, happy, and not glued to the TV while you are cooking your family's holiday favorites. From a turkey handprint table runner to leaf impression placemats, these art projects/keepsake decorations are super kid-friendly and kid-approved for fun. Read on for 5 ways to decorate your Thanksgiving table with your little helpers.
1. Toilet paper roll napkin holders
This first project is simple enough for even toddlers to dive in and get crafty. Paint empty toilet paper rolls whatever color you like. Let dry. You can use them as is or glue on leaves, feathers, name tags, etc. for more decoration.
2. Pumpkin or gourd vase
Pumpkins and gourds aren’t just for Halloween decorations. These fall favorites can be refashioned into a fun and functional vase. Find an in-depth how-to here. Basically, cut off the pumpkin or gourd’s top, let your kids scoop out the seeds (which can be used for a healthy holiday snack), and fill with flowers.
3. Leaf impression placemats
Placemats add to the holiday ambiance, but they don’t have to be fussy. Make them kid-friendly by having your child (I recommend this for preschoolers and up) make leaf impressions on cotton or muslin. Cut the placemats to whatever size you like. Have your child pick leaves of various shapes and sizes then hold or tape leaves in place on the placemat. Your child can paint around the edges, making the leaf’s silhouette. Remove the tape and the leaf and let dry.
If you want to involve littler ones, have them dip leaves in paint and brush or press them onto the placemat for an abstract design.
4. Pumpkin seed place holders
Little bellies often start to rumble in anticipation of all the yummy treats on the holiday table. Stave off kids’ hunger (and give them a healthy dose of zinc and vitamin E ) with these pumpkin seed place holders. After you have scooped out the pumpkin seeds for your pumpkin vase, wash them, removing any pumpkin flesh, and then spread them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with oil and a bit of salt and roast at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Let cool and then place in small cups or ramekins. You can add a place card or personalize the containers themselves.
5. Turkey handprint table runner
These turkey handprints have been around for ages, and we still think they’re adorable! Plus our kids find it hysterical that their little hands and fingers are magically turned into turkeys. Paint your child’s palm and fingers (we recommend painting each finger a different color), then help them firmly press their hands onto your runner: a long strip of white butcher paper or cotton would work well, but construction paper will do in a pinch. Fill in the turkey’s shape as necessary with paint, adding a beak, an eye, and feet. Let dry.