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Party Plan: A Terrific Turkey Day for the Little Ones!

Kids will go gobble gobble for these fun food recipes and DIY decoration ideas!

When planning your Thanksgiving celebration, be sure to keep the kiddos in mind! Dishes like Corny Mac & Cheese Cups and Sweet Potato Volcanoes are yummy, fun and easy to make. Crispy Corn Tots and Waffle Stuffing also add delicious flavor and flair. You can even serve up some Cranberry Lime Fizz as a sparkly, kid-friendly cocktail.

Have your youngsters help out with a few DIY Thanksgiving projects, like a Stamped Pumpkin Runner or Maple Leaf Turkey Welcome Sign. Have them set the table with fun Beaded Napkin Ring Holders and Pumpkin Stamped Place Cards. Finally, help them learn about the holiday season with a Thankfulness Tree Mural, a fun and decorative expression of Thanksgiving.

Waffle Stuffing Stacks

Waffle Stuffing Stacks

Stuffing goes from ho-hum to waffle fun with this take on Thanksgiving’s favorite side dish!

Hands-on Time: 10 min | Total Time: 40 min | Serves: 12 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 box (6 oz.) stuffing mix
  • 3 cups hot mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup hot turkey gravy
Directions:
  1. In 2 quart saucepan, heat water and butter heat until boiling. Stir in stuffing mix; cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, brush waffle iron with vegetable oil; heat waffle iron.
  3. Drop stuffing by ¼ cups onto hot waffle iron. Close cover. Cook 8-15 minutes or until golden brown and beginning to crisp. Remove from waffle iron with nonstick utensil. Repeat with remaining stuffing (may need to stir 1-2 tablespoons additional water into stuffing if crumbly).
  4. While remaining waffles bake, keep waffles warm in single layer of baking sheet in low oven.
  5. Serve each waffle with ¼ cup mashed potatoes and a spoonful of gravy.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 140, Calories from Fat 45, Total Fat 5g (8% DV), Saturated Fat 3g (15% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 10mg (3% DV), Sodium 500mg (21% DV), Carbohydrates 20g (7% DV), Dietary Fiber 1g (4% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 3g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 6%, Calcium 2%, Iron 4%.

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Corny Mac & Cheese Cups

Corny Mac & Cheese Cups

These little cups of corn & cheesy goodness will delight young and old.

Hands-on Time: 15 min. | Total Time: 50 min. | Serves: 12 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup crushed buttery round crackers (about 24)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 container (21 oz.) refrigerated mac and cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cream-style corn
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously spray 12 medium muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. In medium bowl, stir together crushed crackers and butter; reserve ½ cup of cracker mixture to use for topping.
  3. Stir mac and cheese, corn and eggs into remaining cracker mixture until well blended.
  4. Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle with reserved cracker mixture.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until dry around edges and beginning to brown. (Knife inserted in center may come out clean).
  6. Let stand in pan 5 minutes. Carefully remove cups to serving plate.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 330, Calories from Fat 120, Total Fat 13g (20% DV), Saturated Fat 7g (35% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 65mg (22% DV), Sodium 520mg (22% DV), Carbohydrates 42g (14% DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Sugars 4g, Protein 9g, Vitamin A 8%, Vitamin C 2%, Calcium 8%, Iron 6%.

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Cranberry-Lime Fizz

Cranberry-Lime Fizz

This fizzy cocktail is kid-friendly yet sparkly enough to raise a glass to toast all you are thankful for.

Hands-on Time: 5 min. | Total Time: 5 min. | Serves: 16 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 bottle (64 oz.) refrigerated cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 bottle (25.4 oz.) refrigerated sparkling apple cider
Directions:
  1. In large pitcher, stir together cranberry juice cocktail and limeade until limeade melts.
  2. Just before serving, stir in sparkling cider.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 140, Calories from Fat 0, Total Fat 0g (0% DV), Saturated Fat 0g (0% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 25mg (1% DV), Carbohydrates 35g (12% DV), Dietary Fiber 0g (0% DV), Sugars 32g, Protein 0g, Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 100%, Calcium 0%, Iron 0%.

View Party Plan: A Terrific Turkey Day for the Little Ones!

Thanksgiving Pretzel Bark

Thanksgiving Pretzel Bark

Sweet, salty and full of chocolate…a perfect treat to pass around after the Thanksgiving feast!

Hands-on Time: 15 min | Total Time: 1 hour 15 min | Serves: 24 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 package (11 oz.) milk chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup pretzels, roughly crumbled
  • ¼ cup candy corn
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup candy-coated peanut butter candies
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Line large baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
  2. In large microwavable bowl, melt microwave milk chocolate chips on High power 45 seconds; stir. If needed, microwave at additional 15 second intervals, stirring vigorously after each interval until chips are melted.
  3. Stir in half the pretzels, candy corn, peanuts and candies. Spread melted chocolate mixture into a rectangle about 12”x8”. Immediately sprinkle remaining pretzels, candy corn, peanuts and candies over chocolate; press toppings gently into chocolate.
  4. In small microwavable bowl, melt white chips on medium-high power 30 seconds; stir. If needed, microwave an additional 10 seconds until white chocolate can be stirred smooth. Drizzle over bark. Refrigerate 1 hour or until set. Peel bark off and break into pieces. Store refrigerated in airtight container.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 100, Calories from Fat 50, Total Fat 6g (9% DV), Saturated Fat 3.5g (18% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol < 5mg (1% DV), Sodium 25mg (1% DV), Carbohydrates 12g (4% DV), Dietary Fiber < 1g (2% DV), Sugars 10g, Protein 1g, Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 2%, Iron 2%.

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Crispy Corny Tots

Crispy Corny Tots

There is more than one way to eat your veggies! Try these little tots for a fun twist on vegetables.

Hands-on Time: 15 min. | Total Time: 40 min. | Serves: 5 (4 tots each) | Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¾ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter
  • Cooking spray
  • Favorite dip, such as French onion or sour cream and chive
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Spray 20 mini muffins cups with cooking spray.
  2. In medium bowl, stir together vegetables, eggs and seasoned salt. Stir in crumbs, cheese and butter.
  3. Pack 2 tablespoons vegetable mixture into the mini muffin cups.
  4. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Serve with dip.
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 250, Calories from Fat 130, Total Fat 14g (22% DV), Saturated Fat 9g (45% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 70mg (23% DV), Sodium 530mg (22% DV), Carbohydrates 21g (7% DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Sugars 4g, Protein 8g, Vitamin A 70%, Vitamin C 8%, Calcium 10%, Iron 4%.

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Sweet Potato Volcanoes

Sweet Potato Volcanoes

These fun volcanoes bring new life to traditional sweet potatoes.

Hands-on Time: 10 min. | Total Time: 35 min. | Serves: 9 | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:
  • 1 can (29 oz.) syrup-packed sweet potatoes, drained
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 9 miniature marshmallows
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; trace nine 2½” circles onto parchment paper; turn paper over onto baking sheet.
  2. In large bowl, mash all ingredients except marshmallows with potato masher or on low speed of mixer until smooth.
  3. Place sweet potato mixture in large resealable bag; tie off bag with a twist tie so that it resembles a triangular piping bag. Hold bag at top with one hand and cut ¾” off bottom of bag with scissors using the other hand.
  4. Squeeze sweet potato mixture into 2½” circles. Continue squeezing and tapering sweet potato mound until it is about 2” high. Repeat to form 9 volcanoes.
  5. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Push marshmallow gently into top of volcano. Return to oven and bake 3 to 4 minutes longer or until marshmallows brown and begin to melt.
  6. Let stand a few minutes before transferring to serving plate (Use a thin, flat server to lift them from baking sheet to serving plate to dinner plate).
Nutrition Analysis:

Per serving: Calories 170, Calories from Fat 40, Total Fat 5g (8% DV), Saturated Fat 2.5g (12% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 35mg (12% DV), Sodium 105mg (4% DV), Carbohydrates 29g (10% DV), Dietary Fiber 3g (12% DV), Sugars 9g, Protein 2g, Vitamin A 170%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 2%, Iron 6%.

View Party Plan: A Terrific Turkey Day for the Little Ones!

Maple Leaf Turkey Welcome Sign

Maple Leaf Turkey Welcome Sign

Welcome fall to your home with a kid-crafted sign to hang from the front door.

Things You'll Need:
  • Maple leaves with stems
  • Hot glue gun
  • Googly eyes
  • Foam core
  • Additional sheet of foam core/construction paper
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Scissors
Directions:
  1. Even getting ready for this craft is fun! Take the kids on a scavenger hunt. You could explore a park and make a day out of it, or just spend a little while in the backyard if you have brightly colored maples shedding their leaves. Each sign will require two leaves with their stems intact, forming the turkey’s two legs. Feel free to gather more leaves if you want to make an extra fluffy turkey tail.
  2. When you get back home or indoors, it’s time to begin making your sign. Colorful foam core is a great option on which to mount the leaf turkey (or you could use cardstock and a premade mat if you wanted to frame it later). Help the kids glue the leaves to the sign, one on top of another, giving the turkey its legs and as ornate a tail as desired. Remember to give the hot glue time to cool and set to avoid burns.
  3. Next, cut a 2-3” body out of the extra sheet of foam core or paper. Attach googly eyes and a beak near the top, and your little turkey is all finished!
  4. Finally, a hand-scrawled “welcome” across the top would complete the sign. Or perhaps your family name, the word “thankful” or something the little ones think up will suit it nicely.

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Thankfulness Tree Mural

Thankfulness Tree Mural

As the leaves and temperatures drop, bring the beauty of the vibrant fall landscape into your home. This craft repurposes your stash of brown paper grocery bags to make a grand tribute to gratefulness.

Things You'll Need:
  • Brown paper grocery bags
  • Red, orange and yellow construction paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Painter’s tape
Directions:
  1. Find a large, empty space on a wall in your home. Cut several paper bags so they can unfold and lie flat. With scissors and your imagination, begin shaping and taping your tree up the wall—from trunk to branches. Your tree can be as little as your smallest kiddo or it can reach all the way up to the ceiling.
  2. Trace the hands of family members on the construction paper and have an older child or a grown up cut them out. Facilitate a conversation about the time of year giving us all a moment to pause and reflect. What are you grateful, thankful and appreciative for?
  3. Everyone can make as many paper “leaves” as they’d like, write their sentiments and tape to them to the paper tree. Using painter’s tape will prevent any paint from peeling off when it’s time to take the tree and leaves down.

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Beaded Napkin Ring Holders

Beaded Napkin Ring Holders

How to personalize your Thanksgiving table this year? Bring the kids in to help! Adding a child’s creative touch to an otherwise sophisticated scene can really soften the tone of a room and introduce more character.

Use wooden or glass beads in festive colors and shapes to make napkin holders. String them on stretchy elastic, or make longer loop on twine or embroidery thread and just wrap it around the napkin multiple times. Guests could repurpose it into a keychain, bracelet or necklace.

This activity is a great way for kids to practice fine motor skills and to be entertained for an afternoon. You could even personalize the place settings with lettered beads for each guest’s name.

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Tulle Turkey

Tulle Turkey

Put a little extra fun and sweetness into Thanksgiving for the kids by helping them craft a cute take-home turkey (or make them ahead of time to pass out as party favors).

Things You'll Need:
  • Tulle (white or light gold)
  • Festive candies
  • Fold-top sandwich baggies
  • Scissors
  • Small, clear hair elastics
  • Googly eyes
  • Brown and red or orange pipe cleaners
Directions:
  1. Decide whether you would like to provide this as a Thanksgiving Day activity for the little ones or rather as a party favor, in which case you’ll make the craft ahead of time.
  2. If the goodies you’ve chosen for the craft are not individually wrapped, enclose them in a clear, fold-top sandwich bag.
  3. Cut tulle into squares (8”x8” or so). Center the snacks on the tulle square, gather ends together and tie with a clear elastic band. The excess tulle has formed a fluffy turkey tail now.
  4. Make the turkey features with pipe cleaners. Cut two pieces to shape into feet. Turkeys have three toes in the front and one in the back—be as accurate as you wish, or not! For the head, simply shape into a flat spiral and twist on a little beak. Use hot or super glue to attach googly eyes and wait for them to dry. Simply poke pipe cleaners into the tulle and admire your cute, tasty turkey.

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How to Make the Kid’s Table More Fun

How to Make the Kid’s Table More Fun

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a very busy time of year. When it’s finally time to sit down to a meal many hands have prepped for hours, grown-ups want to do just that: sit.

But how do we keep little ones in their seats? Here is an idea that may allow for a quieter meal. Make the kid’s table fun by converting the tablecloth into a canvas. If their area caters to them, kids will be more likely to sit longer and eat better. Kids love to participate in activities!

To prep the table, first lay down a plastic table cover (you may want to place on the floor too, as a drop cloth). This will waterproof and art-proof the area. To make the canvas, use a plain white tablecloth on top—no need for fancy linens this time!

Next, pile on the art supplies. Include fabric paint, markers, glitter glue, puffy paint and googly eyes galore. Please make sure everything is non-toxic, though, and consider the age group of your audience. You probably won’t have to tell the kids twice that they’re allowed to draw all over the table, but you could provide an example for inspiration. Before anyone arrives, trace your hand to make a leaf shape or a turkey. Write your name or draw a pumpkin in glitter glue—something to spark ideas.

You could also set out beads, acorns, pipe cleaners, paper, crayons and feathers so kids can get creative and make up their own crafts. If you wanted to protect special outfits, drape a large cotton T-shirt over each chair so parents have the option of dressing kids in smocks that will double as secondary canvases.

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Stamped Pumpkin Runner

Stamped Pumpkin Runner

Customizing home décor doesn’t have to be complicated. If you team up with your kids, it can be a fun afternoon activity as well as a way for them to contribute to the Thanksgiving meal. We’re going to stamp a runner onto a tablecloth.

Start with a light-colored tablecloth, mini pumpkins/gourds and paint. The combination of burnt orange, deep red, golden yellow and a touch of bronze is a classic palette and will lend a refined touch to the children’s effort.

The first step is to simply cut each pumpkin and gourd in half, which leaves you two earth-given, festive little shapes you can dip in paint. We recommend using lids of containers you’d otherwise recycle to hold the paint and allow for stamping.

Since we’re creating a runner effect, fold the tablecloth to expose only the part you want stamped. This will ensure a clean, defined edge—neat lines aren’t always kids’ priority. You could use tape to block off the stamping space as well.

You’re ready to go! Dip halved gourds into the paint and transfer their organic shapes to the cloth. Vary the colors, take turns with the pumpkins and most importantly, enjoy yourselves. In a season of hustle and bustle, take time to slow down and enjoy time where the little ones get your full attention. When it’s time to feast on Thanksgiving Day, family will gather around a table that everyone shared in making not only beautiful, but bountiful.

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Nature-Inspired (and Budget Friendly!) Decorating

Nature-Inspired (and Budget Friendly!) Decorating

Host a scavenger hunt for the kids to gather supplies for decorating candles. Plain pillars will be transformed into celebrations of the season!

Autumn Hunt & Gather:
  • Acorns
  • Small twigs (how many letter shapes can you find?)
  • Maple leaves (3 different colors)
  • Oak leaves (2 different colors)
  • Walnuts
  • Dried flowers

Find your boots and scarves, get a grocery bag or little basket and our Autumn Hunt & Gather list—it’s time to head outside. We’re looking for nature’s fallen treasures to scoop up and bring inside. Can you tell the difference between oak and maple trees? How many different kinds of leaves can you identify? How many shades of one color can you find? Try to hunt for and gather at least one of everything on the list.

When everyone’s baskets are full of found goodies and you go back inside, maybe have a warm treat like fresh-baked pumpkin scones or some warm apple cider.

Next, admire the leaves, nuts and other items you’ve found. Select the prettiest, most vibrant fallen leaves to wrap around plain pillar candles. Gently use twine or ribbon and tie with a bow to secure the leaves. A trio of these candles could make a simple but lovely centerpiece.

What might you do with the other items you found on your scavenger hunt? Use your imagination to decorate spaces in your home as a welcome tribute to the changing seasons.

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Five Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

Five Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving on a Budget

There’s no need to break the bank for one day of celebrating. Your family and friends will be glad to see you and that’s what matters most. Before you make your shopping list, consider these tricks that will save you a few bucks here and there.

  1. Don’t buy special spice mixes; make them yourself with what you already have. The treasured pumpkin pie mix is mostly cinnamon with nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice added to taste. Seasoned salt is simply onion, garlic and chili powders, paprika, parsley, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cajun, Italian and curry mixes are all comprised of spices that may already be in your cupboards, too (something a simple online search will reveal). Added bonus: by making mixes yourself, you get to fully customize them.
  2. Eat seasonally—it tends to cost less. Items typically in season somewhere in North American during the early winter months include: apples, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, chard, carrots, chestnuts, cranberries, oranges, pears, persimmon, pomegranate, potatoes, rutabaga, winter squash, turnips and yams. Use this list to inspire new recipes and to refine your grocery list.
  3. Save recyclable containers for leftovers instead of purchasing new storage containers. Folks’ kitchen drawers tend to have enough of them anyway, and it’s a great way to repurpose those items you’d otherwise toss in the recycling bin. Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, pre-sliced deli meat, hummus—anything you buy in a plastic, resealing container, can be washed and given a new job. Guests will appreciate being able to take leftovers home.
  4. Make homemade stuffing. Preserve those ends of bread loaves that are steadily rejected, or the remainder of baguette you didn’t finish in a large, freezer-safe storage bag. Come the end of November, you’ll have enough bread trimmings to make stuffing for the entire block. Simply thaw, chop, cook and delight.
  5. Craft your own decorations this year. Let nature inspire you to make your own runners, wreaths and centerpieces. If there are little ones in your life, they may be more than happy to help. Brainstorm ideas to spice up the day that don’t revolve around food, drinks or other things you’d need to purchase. Play board games you already have, go around the table and say what you’re thankful for or watch a beloved family movie.

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Pumpkin Stamped Place Cards

Pumpkin Stamped Place Cards

Those mini pumpkins and gourds are oh so cute. In addition to putting them on display, put them to work—as stamps!

Things You'll Need:
  • Mini gourds and pumpkins
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Plastic container lids
  • Paint
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • Hole punch
Directions:
  1. Cut the pumpkins in half, split by the stem. Cut gourds in half lengthwise.
  2. Use the lids of discarded disposable containers (like yogurt or hummus) to hold the paint.
  3. Cut out name cards, thank you cards or gift tag shapes from the cardstock.
  4. Dip the cut end of gourd or pumpkin into the paint and then stamp onto the paper.

Stamping is so easy and fun that your kids could make an entire lifetime of thank you cards or gift tags!

To make place cards for the Thanksgiving table, have children write the names of guests under the stamped shape. Inside they could write a little note, or separately include a thank you card describing what they love about each guest. Stamped gift tags could be attached to party favors or leftover kits.

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3D Thankfulness Tree

3D Thankfulness Tree

Turn pickup sticks from a chore to a game, and make a three-dimensional tree to celebrate the season and reflect on all there is to be grateful for this time of year.

Things You'll Need:
  • Sticks gathered from outside
  • Construction paper (fall colors)
  • Pencil
  • Hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Twine
Directions:
  1. Take the kids outside and gather sticks from the yard. Sticks should be at least two feet long, and the more you gather, the bigger your tree will be. When you feel you have enough, arrange them so they’re flush at one end. Use twine to fasten the bundle together so it can stand up on its own.
  2. Next, on orange, red and yellow paper, trace hands of kids and cut out the shapes (or have them cut, depending on age). This will create a lovely variety of autumn “leaves.” Prompt a discussion by asking what they’re thankful for—at school, at home, in a specific friend or family member, etc. Write or have them write down their responses on the leaves.
  3. Finally, use a hole punch and twine to make the leaves into ornaments and decorate your autumn tree as a family. Display the tree in a corner of the house, on the front porch (if covered) or as an impressive centerpiece.

View Party Plan: A Terrific Turkey Day for the Little Ones!

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