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hosting a kid-friendly holiday meal

hosting a kid-friendly holiday meal


I love hosting.

I’m not sure why since I do typically get stressed out at some point when something inevitably goes array leaving Mike or the nearest sane adult to pick up the pieces of my frazzled mental state and calm me down.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah… so with Halloween tomorrow I think it’s safe to say that the holiday season is officially upon us and with it comes a copious amount of dinner parties and family gatherings. Over the years I’ve learned that everyone at your big dinner will be much happier if the kids are having a great time. You know the saying, “happy wife, happy life“? Well, “happy brood, happy mood” is maybe even more true.

Today I wanted to share with you some simple tips if you find yourself hosting a hoard of children this year. Although I’m focusing on Thanksgiving since that’s our next big holiday, these ideas really apply to any meal or function where young ones will be in attendance.


hosting a kid-friendly holiday meal


consider your crowd

Are you going to have a separate kids table or have everyone sit together? There are defiantly pros and cons to each but the first thing to think about is the age range of kids. If you have all younger kids that will need assistance throughout the meal then it’s probably best if they’re right there with you. However, if they’re older then it can be a nice break to have them sit at their own table.

If you are having your own kids table then have some fun and make it as kid-friendly as possible! Using festive and disposable dinnerware means that cleanup is easier and you won’t have to worry about things breaking mid-meal. Even a disposable tablecloth can make dinner a lot more fun if you choose one that can double as a coloring mat!

pre-dinner prep

In the hours leading up to your big meal what are your plans for keeping your little ones entertained and your house intact and presentable for visitors? I mean, other than just yelling at them every two minutes? No, just me?? If your kids are old enough consider having them help you in the kitchen, in my experience little ones love to help stir or set the table. If your kids are younger then have them prep their very own holiday meal in their play kitchen, maybe sporting some mommy and me (or doll and me) matching aprons?

Another thing we love to do is watch holiday movies, the Charlie Brown holiday specials are one of our favorites. Put out some fun holiday crafts and have them stay occupied while feeling festive. Holiday themed books and games are always fun too, especially when they have friends to join in on the fun!

entertaining eating

I don’t know about you but one of the things that drives me nuts about dinnertime is when my kids finish their food at the speed of light and the ask–“can we have dessert now?”–when we’ve barely started on our entrees. No fears though, because I have a couple of tricks to combat this mealtime dilemma.

One thing you can do is simply let your kids get up and go play in another room, then call them when all the adults are also ready for dessert. I find this really works the best when they have friends to play with, as they’re much more apt to go occupy themselves in another room if they have friends to entertain. This is another good time to pull out some fun holiday crafts or games.

Another thing I like to do is try and keep them busy at the table as long as possible. This could include coloring on paper placemats or disposable tablecloths (as mentioned above), or even just placing ledger size pieces of blank paper under their table setting as a simple placemat that they can doodle on to their hearts content.



Will you be hosting any big gatherings this holiday season? What are some of your tips?


14 Responses to hosting a kid-friendly holiday meal

  1. Jaclyn @coffeepancakesanddreams October 30, 2017 at 6:57 am #

    Great ideas! We host Thanksgiving every year so I’ll keep these in mind. I always have a food ‘craft’ for the kids. Some years Reese’s pilgrim hats or turkey cookies. Something easy but that takes them awhile to make:)

  2. Kim October 30, 2017 at 7:08 am #

    Love that tablecloth that you can color….I bet adults would love to color it too:)

  3. Meghan October 30, 2017 at 7:09 am #

    Love this so much! We always make sure it’s kid friendly and this has given me some new ideas. Thank you!!!

  4. Taylor | NotQuiteAnAdult October 30, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    It’s so important to make sure the kids are entertained if the parents want to have any fun!

  5. Mary Leigh October 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    These are all such great tips. I really appreciate that each of them is so well thought out to keep the kids involved and not made to feel like an annoyance – but also to make the most of everyone’s time! I really think flexibility is key. I love the idea of just letting them play while the adults finish eating (way better than fussing with them while you try to eat) or letting them color. Great to plan ahead for these kinds of things!

  6. Emily Anne October 30, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

    Fantastic ideas!! My family hosts Thanksgiving every year so this is perfect!!

  7. Jordyn October 30, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

    Love these Ideas!

  8. Ashley Newell October 30, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

    Great ideas but how do I get them to eat the food? 😉

  9. Lindsey October 31, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    These are such great ideas! We’re hosting a friends giving for our twins club…totally using these!

  10. anna November 1, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    This is so cute and so perfect for our friendsgiving we have coming up. There will be a few kids there and they will love some of these things. I have heard a lot of great things about the turkey on the table

  11. Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins November 1, 2017 at 8:28 am #

    Totally agree with all of your tips! We have a lot of family around so bigger family meals with lots of kids around is pretty common. Thanksgiving can be a little extra tricky though due to the extra prep time put into the meal. I have a bunch of coloring and activity pages and crayons that I bring for all the kids (big and small *wink*) and it’s been a hit every year!

  12. Caity November 1, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    This is perfect timing, since I’m having two families over tomorrow night and I have a very small house! Haha. I adore hosting, too; the little details and preparing food with love. But the stress gets me also! Maybe we just need to relax and let go of our expectations?

  13. Christine November 1, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    What fun ideas! Big meals can be hard for kids so I love the idea of catering things to them. Also, prepping ahead is key! Those games and activities look awesome!

  14. Lisa Babs November 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm #

    Great tips. I always use disposable plates for thanksgiving at my house. So much easier (no matter the ages of your guests).
    I haven’t tried it as a tablecloth, but if you use a white sheet and washable markers it comes completely clean with bleach. So one can draw and draw again.

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