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  • Younger children can get overstimulated with additional people around during the holidays. Try planning a quiet activity like coloring, Legos or story time before the meal. This helps occupy them while you are making last minute preparations and can greatly reduce the stress of getting the meal ready.

  • Nothing sends a more positive message than an adult who wants to sit at the kids table. This helps children feel like they are a part of the meal and provides an adult to monitor the table activities.

  • Everybody loves dessert and oftentimes are too stuffed to enjoy it. How about start the meal off with a nice slice of pie? The kids will love it and the older, more traditional family members will think you lost your marbles!

  • Choose a youngster to help you carve the turkey (or, if there are only young children, have them help arrange the cut pieces on the plate). Base the decision on the best helper or the oldest child present. This can become a fun family tradition. But be sure to supervise your junior carver. Nothing ruins a holiday meal like an emergency room visit!

  • Place favorite dishes in front of each kid and give a special title. Their job is to make sure each person gets a portion and extra servings!

  • How about introducing a new (or not so new) dish to your Thanksgiving menu? For instance, make macaroni and cheese-a kid favorite-and present it like it’s a surprise addition.

  • Ask children questions to engage them in conversations at the dinner table. You may be surprised that youngsters have something to say! There is plenty of time after the meal to have adult conversations.

  • Post dinner games and fresh air doesn’t have to mean football. It can be a game of tag or even croquet. Pair an adult with a child and have them work as a team.

  • Engaging young children in conversations about what they are thankful for helps create an inclusive environment and begins to instill valuable traits to use as they grow older.