All the cooking, cleaning, hosting, washing, baking, laughing and scrubbing is surely too much for one person to handle. If you have volunteered (or have been volunteered) to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, do yourself a favor and rally some help from your kiddos. There's no need to do it all yourself; many hands make light work, right?
Try giving your kids a little more responsibility and credit this year and see your to-do list shrink before your eyes.
Help your kids plan the menu and get them excited to help shop for all the ingredients you will need to pull off the menu they've helped create. Have little hands help pick out carrots or grab the sour cream. Or, have them read aloud the list as you walk down the aisles and check off each item so you know you aren't forgetting anything.
No matter how old your kids are, everyone can help clean up the house before guests arrive. This should be done a day or two in advance so you aren't stressed out about an underdone turkey and a messy sitting room. Set a timer and see how many things each kid can pick up in 10 minutes and watch clutter disappear. Older kids can help tackle bathrooms and vacuuming, which really makes your life easier.
Wash 'em up!
There are potatoes to be scrubbed and peeled, carrots to be washed, green bean ends to be snapped off and lettuce to be torn. The key to a stress-free Thanksgiving is to prep things as much as you can beforehand, which makes enlisting your kids an easy choice. Even little hands can help with washing fruit and vegetables to be minced and chopped. Older kids can help with the chopping (as long as Mom or Dad is there to supervise). Place prepped veggies in Ziploc bags for easy day-of cooking.
Kids of any age can help (or completely) set the table before the feast. Print out an easy diagram for children to follow to make sure every seat gets a fork on the left and knife on the right. Now instead of having to set the whole table yourself, you just need to double check everything is in its correct place. (Extra tip: Have kiddos set the table the night before to clear cabinet and cupboard space for the day of Thanksgiving.)
If little munchkins are running underfoot when you are trying to get to all the things your kids can't help with, get them set up to create the centerpiece for the table. Collecting fall leaves for a bouquet, or writing words of gratitude on colored paper leaves, will certainly keep kids busy while you work on other tasks. For an extra few more minutes, have your kids make name tags to put by each plate to designate where everyone will sit.
Arrange (by age)
Littler kids can surely place olives in a bowl (maybe with a taste or two), but older kids can help pour soup into bowls, or put all the salad ingredients together and toss with dressing. Set out all the serving vessels for each dish and have your kids put the rolls in the basket, pile on the potatoes or slice the cranberry sauce while you tend to other matters.
Munchkin maître d'
Your children will love the important role of playing maître d'. Put them in Sunday best and let them know that answering the door, taking coats and showing guests to the living room is their job. Kids do well with some responsibility — and this prevents you from having to run back and forth between the kitchen and the door with gravy dripping down your sleeve.
Kids who can walk without much of a wobble can help you clear the table when dinner is over, or when it's time to switch courses. Fill a sink (or large cooler) with soapy water for kids to put the dishes in to soak while everyone dishes up a slice of pumpkin pie.
Having kids act as personal assistants to tell you when the timer's gone off is going to be an immense help come Thanksgiving day. Enlist your little munchkins for some help and spend more time enjoying the holiday instead of stressing over it.
Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.