Since I’ll be busy in the kitchen next week,I’m going to put my kids in charge of the Thanksgiving table decorations. Craft projects and art are usually a fun way for them to fill their down time when they’re home from school, and what I like about these fairly easy Thanksgiving crafts for kids is that I think they can double as adorable table decorations to make dinner more festive.
There’s something really nice about the kids’ table feeling kid-like, or, if you all sit at one big Thanksgiving table, that it doesn’t feel too stuffy. I think Thanksgiving is one holiday where decorating perfection is overrated. What’s not overrated though, is making everyone feel at home which is just what these crafts do.
Editor’s way-too-long note: We’d just like to point out is that we’re working hard to find Thanksgiving crafts that are respectful of the First Nations tribes and the true story of Thanksgiving. As we become more knowledgeable about the issues with appropriating Native culture, we’re seeing some of the challenges of traditional Thanksgiving crafts we grew up with ourselves like making an “Indian headdress” or drawing “Indian symbols.” As kids ourselves, most of us never even knew much about the Wampanoag tribe (who created the treaty with the Pilgrims of the Plymouth colony), let alone the differences between their culture and that of other tribes.
It can be hard to let go of some of these kinds of traditional crafts. But in the name of progress, compassion, kindness, and trying to foster better understanding of actual Native tribes and traditions, we’ve focused on crafts for kids that celebrate thankfulness — for family, for friends, for turkeys (!!), and for the harvest of the natural world.
A good analogy is that if you wanted to honor a Kwanzaa celebration, you wouldn’t have your kids put on afro wigs. Maybe that helps put it in perspective.
For more info, check out this smart PDF from the Museum of the American Indian that does a good job explaining the Native American perspective on Thanksgiving. We’re really trying to be more inclusive and sensitive, and the more we learn, they more inclusive and understanding we will be. -LG
This post has been updated for 2022.
The fingerprint turkey napkin rings at Make and Takes (shown at top) are so cute and easy for even the littlest fingers to help complete. Use the pattern provided and some common craft supplies, and your Thanksgiving dinner table will be 100% more adorable.
This free printable DIY Thanksgiving thankful mat from Our Handcrafted Life may be my favorite of all crafts because it reminds my kids to think about what they’re really thankful for at Thanksgiving. Just put out a few crayons and share what everyone is thankful for when everyone gathers for dinner.
Take a nature walk with your kids over the weekend, or send them outside while you’re toiling over pies, and collect pinecones. Then you can make this easy pinecone Thanksgiving turkey craft via A Pumpkin and a Princess for Thanksgiving. These could even make adorable place card holders if you just stick a small card for names in their backs.
If you have older kids at home who want to pitch in too, they can make these Thanksgiving log cabin place card holders we found at Oh Happy Day. They are definitely more advanced, but they’re so, so cute. Or, if you have time, this is a Thanksgiving craft project you can work on with your younger kids because they’ll need the help.
Put together the b&w printable version of these Be thankful Thanksgiving utensil holders found at The Idea Room by eighteen25 ahead of time, and let your kids color them in. Hey, maybe it will even get them excited to pitch in and help set the table by filling them with silverware. Maybe.
This pumpkin pie garland Thanksgiving craft at Say Yes will definitely be adorning our own dessert buffet this year — it’s so much fun! Her instructions are so wonderful, butI may skip the metallic copper paper and just let my kids paint the pie slices the perfect color orange. They may need a little help with the modeling clay pie crust, but once I get it on there my kids can press the indentations with their forks and add the perfect dollop of “whipped cream.” Wonderful.
This inexpensive printable thanksgiving thankfulness tree from Caravan Shoppe has plenty to room onto which to hang leaves onto which you can write all the things you’re thankful for this year. Or draw your own on a giant roll of craft paper and spread it out along the table, so that it becomes a table runner of sorts before dinner is served.