I also had a photo wall area set up for guests. I simply taped craft paper to the wall and then wrote "Give Thanks" at the top. Then I let my daughter color it in and I placed some photo props and a selfie stick on a small table next to the photo background. My stepdad was really helpful in the coloring process and served as Lilly's ladder.
When my husband and I first got married we had several college friends who didn't have anyone to celebrate Thanksgiving with. So, we started hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday evening to give those friends a Thanksgiving experience. When we started hosting this ten years ago we cooked everything but it was only for about six people and we didn't have any children. Now, most of our friends have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving so we've moved the event to the Saturday before Thanksgiving and we invite many more people so it's more of a potluck scenario where we cook the turkey and a few sides. By the way, if you want a fool proof turkey recipe you should try Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey. It's the recipe we've used every year and it always yields a delicious, juicy and flavorful turkey. Out of the several Thanksgivings we attend it is definitely our favorite. There is such great energy with all of our friends and their kids. It truly feels like an extended family.
This year we got to host it at our new house which made the event even more awesome than ever before because we had more space for everyone including the 10 rowdy kids! With the layout of our new home, the dining room and breakfast nook were both large enough to add an additional table which allowed us to visit in larger groups while eating that in previous years. The house also has a room that is towards the back end of the house and I set that room up as the kids room giving the adults a little distance from the ruckus that they created.
For table decorations I used brown butcher paper to cover our folding tables and then drew place settings with a sharpie. Then I added some white votives and faux fall leaves to the center. I printed out some free napkin rings but they were too big for the paper napkins and plastic silverware I was using so we just laid them across the drawn place setting and put the napkin and silverware on the side. I had a tablecloth and centerpiece on the main dining table and placed golden chargers at each setting with he same napkin ring/decorative paper strip, napkin and silverware and used a ceramic cornucopia filled with fruit for the breakfast nook table.
For the kids tables I copied the adult tables by using craft paper and faux place settings but for the center I placed paper bag teepees made by my daughter and paper finger puppet pilgrims and indians. I also put a snack bag of Kix cereal that was dressed up to look like corn on the cob at each setting. To entertain the kids I provided indian headdresses for them to color and wear and crayons at the center of the tables. I also made a "Stuff the Turkey" game by following this tutorial which entertained the kids for at least a few minutes.
Stuff the turkey was also a quick craft and I only needed a large paper bag, two small paper bags, white tissue paper (I ended up using white paper towels), several sheets of colored paper (for stuffing), a hot glue gun and a stapler. I followed directions found here.
We had a ton of food and a really great time! We even had a small break at around 8:30 for parents to take kids home and put them to bed. Then we reconvened for more adult time while sitters stayed with the sleeping children. It was pretty fun!
Hopefully this event will continue to grow and be as much fun year after year. Enjoy the ideas and have a great Thanksgiving!
Rachel is a mother of three, elementary Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.