Bring a Little Craftiness to Your Thanksgiving Family Time

If you’re expecting lots of kids at your Thanksgiving feast, check out these fun ideas for crafts and games!  Keep the kids entertained while you cook your turkey, but even better, many of these simple activities double as festive décor and quality family time, which is, after all, what the holidays are all about.  

Terrific Turkey Place Cards

Kids and grown-ups alike will be tickled when they see their names on these fantastic turkey place cards.

How it’s done: Flatten a colorful cupcake liner (bonus points for fall colors!).  Next, use a mini cupcake liner to draw or glue on the turkey’s eyes, beak, and wattle (yes, that’s the name of the little red thing!). Once this is dry, use glue to attach it to a tented piece of cardstock.  You can cut your own with decorative-edge scissors for that extra unique detail. To finish, draw the turkey’s feet and write your guest’s name.  This activity is an excellent project for little hands learning to cut and paste!

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Photograph by Ryan Liebe

The “Other” White Tablecloth

Kids of all ages will be thrilled when they see that this white tablecloth is actually a giant artist’s canvas!  This simple table update will keep kids (okay, and adults, too) entertained before, during, and after the feast.

How to make: Cover the table with a long sheet of butcher paper.  You can also use several pieces of large paper, taping them together at the seams.  Secure the paper to the table using large paper clips or painter’s tape (don’t forget to test the tape first to avoid damaging your table).  If you like, draw place settings or other coloring-book-style shapes to invite coloring.  But, leaving the paper blank is ok, too, and you might be surprised at what your little artists create!

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Adorable Acorns

Do your children come home with pockets full of nature’s treasures? This one is for you! On your next nature walk, encourage your kids to scour the ground for acorns and acorn caps.  Your table setting never looked so fall, and your kids can tell Grandma and Grandpa about their very important acorn collecting adventure.  

How to make: Have an adult place a dollop of hot glue in an acorn cap (if still attached, remove the cap from the acorn, first).  Place one end of your decorative ribbon (about 12” long) in the cap. Dot with more hot glue, and top with a pom-pom (3/4” and 1” sizes shown). Tie your napkins with your finished craft!  These cute acorns can also be made without the ribbon and used as part of any Thanksgiving Day décor!

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Photograph by Ryan Liebe

“Many Thanks” Mobile

Hang this pretty and powerful mobile near your table to remind all of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  You can complete this craft with your family ahead of time.  Or, feel free to invite your guests to participate with their messages of thanks once they arrive, and hang the inspirational mobile just before you enjoy your feast. The eye-catching disks could not be prettier as they dance in the sun!

How to make: Cut circles from your favorite colors of transparent report covers, available at office supply stores.  Circular punches can make this a breeze.  On a large circle, write “We are thankful for…” in permanent marker.  Use an embroidery hoop for the bones of the mobile.  Use thread knotted on the inner hoop pulled across to the opposite side and knotted again.  That should create eight spokes.  To hang, gather the threads in the center, and loop a ribbon through to hang from the ceiling.  Hole punch your gratitude circles and attach to the hoop with various lengths of thread or yarn.

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Pretty Pumpkins Photo Display

Put your gorgeous gourds to good use as a photo display.  Showcase pictures of loved ones who are unable to be with you on Thanksgiving, or highlight cherished Thanksgiving memories from years past.

How to make: For optimal painting, use primer on mini gourds and pumpkins.  Then paint with your favorite acrylic colors and designs.  This fantastic family activity can bring out lots of creativity and conversation.  Of course, if you’re pressed for time, this display will be beautiful with the pumpkins’ natural colors!  To attach photos, make a hole in the top of each gourd with a hammer and a thin nail (adults, please!).  Loop a 12” length of floral wire around a marker a few times so that you have a coil.  Stick the straight end into the small hole in your pumpkin and use the coiled end to hold your sweet snapshots.  

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Pilgrim Ship Pie Slices

Little ones will love it when dessert washes ashore.  Delight your guests with this easy craft celebrating the Mayflower’s voyage.

How to make: Simply cut a sail from paper, adding two small slits to slide through a coffee stir stick.  Add a message or leave blank and let each piece of pie set sail!

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Fabulous Fall Wreaths

With all the feasting going on, you know that a walk is definitely in order!  Take the whole family outside to enjoy the fresh air and burn off some energy (read calories for us adults).  Keep the kids engaged and encourage adults to appreciate the season by suggesting these fabulous fall wreaths.

How to make: Give everyone a paper or plastic bag for collecting.  Find a park or trail and start gathering leaves, sticks, pinecones, acorns, etc.  Once home, provide each family member with a wreath cut-out (approx. 7”) from a cereal box or other cardboard.  Attach your fall finds with tacky glue.  To hang, attach a large paper clip to the back of the wreath.  These are basic and beautiful decorations for your home and an all-around fantastic family-time activity.

Published originally in the FamilyFun magazine November 2014 issue.

Tail Feather Tag


Photograph by Joe Polillo

This game is an excellent alternative to flag football that the even the little ones are sure to enjoy!  Plus, who doesn’t love some backyard fun on Thanksgiving Day!?


How to make: Begin by allowing everyone to create a “tail feather” by coloring a clothespin and attaching googly eyes, beak, and wattle.  Beak and wattle can be pre-cut from felt or craft foam.  Once everyone has their clothespin turkey, clip to the back of each player’s shirt.  When the ref yells, “go!” each player tries to steal as many tail feathers as possible (without losing his own!). Once your tail feather is gone, you’re out.  The last person with a clothespin on wins!  Play until your turkeys are tuckered out.

Published originally in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

Crafty Keepsakes

These handprint place cards don’t take long to make, but will only get more cherished as the years pass and your children grow.  Those little hands won’t be small forever!

How to make: Using a paintbrush and washable paint, brush your children’s hands with brown or orange paint.  Press handprints onto sheets of square cardstock in the color of your choice. Wash hands and then paint the thumb red for a thumbprint wattle. Have your child label it with their name (or write it for them if they are too young).  Don’t forget to include the date on the front or back!  Add a frame of sticks collected from the outdoors using hot glue and display on your fridge, wall, or table year after year.

Published originally in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun

Turkey Egg-tivities

Photograph by Joe Polillo

Are you looking for another use for those plastic eggs from last spring?  Repurpose for some creative Thanksgiving entertainment!

How to make:  Make a cute little turkey using half an egg, a pom-pom, some googly eyes, a felt beak and wattle, and feathers.  Glue dots from your local craft store make this craft a breeze!  These tiny turkeys can be used to adorn your table or for some creative games! Try hiding a pom-pom under one of three turkeys – mix them up and have a player guess which turkey laid an egg! See what innovative games your kids can imagine!

Published originally in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun Wreath of Reminders

Pick-a-Pepper Appetizer

Your kids will flock to these appetizers made with sweet pepper tail feathers!

How to make: Cut a turkey head, beak, and wattle from card stock.  Use a hole punch and marker for eyes (or use googly eyes).  Assemble your turkey face and use glue dots to attach it to a clear plastic cup filled with veggie dip.  Arrange sliced peppers to look like turkey tail feathers! Now that’s good enough to gobble up!

Published originally in the FamilyFun November 2012 issue.

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