6 Ways Your Kids Can Help on Thanksgiving

Preparing for a major holiday like Thanksgiving is exciting, but definitely a lot of work.  Mighty Mommy shares 6 tips to make this Thanksgiving a family affair so your kids can share in the preparation and execution of the dinner. 

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #305

I love the entire reason behind Thanksgiving. All too often we don’t stop to give thanks for all the amazing gifts we have—our kids, spouses, extended family members, true friends, a cozy home, our health, pediatricians that we love, loyal pets, trusted babysitters, a great cup of coffee, the perfect glass of wine, jeans that fit the way they did 5 years ago—the list goes on and on.  

See also: 11 Ways to Raise Grateful Kids


Of course, Thanksgiving is also about the feast—the heavenly roasted turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes with creamy gravy, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, homemade pumpkin pie, and everything else in between.

While this is definitely a terrific celebration, let’s face it, it’s also a lot of work, especially for parents. >

This year, lighten your load by making your Thanksgiving dinner preparation a family affair.  When your kids are assigned their own important jobs they'll feel great about contributing to the event and  appreciate the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Here are Mighty Mommy's 6 tips for getting the whole family involved:

Tip #1:  Hold a Family Planning Meeting

When I have a big project at work, our team gathers in advance to set our goals and assign individual tasks. 

Planning and prepping for a big family holiday such as Thanksgiving is no different.  Set a time when your family can get together to discuss the menu as well as brainstorm other aspects of the day such as decorations, activities, etc. 

See also: 6 Ways to Improve Family Communication


In our family, I used to be the designated holiday planner but now one of my college-age kids (who is in art school) has gladly taken on this position because she enjoys putting her artistic touch on everything from the food choices to the tablescape

With most of my 8 kids attending our Thanksgiving planning meeting, believe me not all of them are jumping up and down to sign up for jobs like peeling potatoes or helping to clean bathrooms before company arrives. So I try to make sure they all have input in picking tasks they would enjoy doing as well as fit what they're capable of contributing.

We're hosting 30 people for Thanksgiving this year, so here are some of the ideas we came up with at our planning meeting...  

Tip #2:  Menu Selection

The first thing we all shared was what we wanted to serve for our Thanksgiving dinner.  Turkey was the easy part, but we also have two family members who are allergic to turkey so we also found another main course that would work for them.  Each child (ours range from 9 - 21) made menu recommendations ranging from appetizers to side dishes to desserts.  We even accounted for a few favorite ways to serve up those awesome leftovers.  (Our kids who are away at college texted us their suggestions!) 

See also: 5 Tips to Make Meal Planning Easier


One way to get your grade-school children involved is to let them write up a menu that can be posted for your family and guests on Thanksgiving Day.  This gives them a way to express their creative side as well as give them practice with writing out a list.  This can be done days in advance or Thanksgiving morning.  

Tip #3:  Create a Detailed Shopping List

Create a detailed shopping list and choose a time when several family members are available to go to the grocery store together.  Because there is so much to buy for a large meal like this, breaking the list down into groupings (such as baking ingredients, side dishes, paper goods, appetizers) is one way you can involve your kids.  Based on their ages, you can assign different lists to one or more kids, or your spouse, to make your trip to the grocery store take less time and less hassle. 


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.