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Thanksgiving Activities with Kids

     I just can’t contain my excitement about Thanksgiving.  It’s far and away my most favorite holiday.  This mystifies my children, who cannot understand how a turkey dinner can compete with Christmas presents.

     Yet, there it is.  The month-long inspiration to give thanks, the emphasis on family, the traditions of spending time together in the kitchen baking—it’s yummy to my very soul!!

     So, when I thought about how to spill some of my Thanksgiving excitement over to you all, I decided to share some ideas on how to make my favorite holiday truly a celebration for your family, particularly activities that would work well with kids and grandkids.  Although, you can certainly do any of these all on your own.

Pilgrim Cookies

     Today, I’m making some Pilgrim hat cookies with my kids.  These are simple, fun, totally adorable, and (perhaps unfortunately) totally yummy.  I confess to eating far more than I should every year!

     I got the idea for these a few years ago from the FamilyFun website.  You can visit their page for an official recipe and even a video.

     Our ingredients are so simple:

  • Large marshmallows.
  • Chocolate chips.
  • Fudge striped shortbread cookies.
  • Some yellow decorating icing.

     Begin by melting the chocolate chips.  Our favorite way of melting chocolate is in the crock-pot.  It keeps it continuously warm, is super-simple, and is deep enough to help contain the mess.

     Dip each marshmallow so that it’s covered in melted chocolate and set it in the middle of a cookie turned upside down.

When the cookies are totally cool, you can use yellow icing to decorate with a buckle.

     How precious are these?  And they are basically just chocolate-covered marshmallows!  Now that’s something to give thanks about!!

Tree of Thanks

     We’re also working today on our tree of thanks.  We take large butcher paper (or large sheets of poster board taped together).  Tape the pages up on a wall of your home and draw the shape of a large tree.

     Trace and cut out several leaves on a separate paper.  Do at least five leaves for each person in your family.  You can color them if you like or use construction paper to save yourself a step.  Go for bright, fall colors!

     Each person needs to write one thing they are thankful for on each of their leaves.  Then you can tape or glue the leaves to your family tree of thanks.

     I love this so much, but am sad to think we’ll just take it down and throw it away.  You can either roll the tree up at the end of the season, store it in a safe place and then add to it next year.

     Or, you can make a smaller version on a 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, copying the reasons to give thanks on miniature leaves, and frame it.  This will make a unique, beautiful and inexpensive Thanksgiving decoration to hang on your wall for seasons to come!


Packing a Shoebox

     Finally, I’m excited to share about my very favorite Thanksgiving tradition of all—Operation Christmas Child (OCC).

     Those of you who are familiar with OCC may be thinking I’m off my rocker officially because surely this counts as a Christmas tradition.

     I beg to differ!

     Every year, the organization Samaritan’s Purse collects shoe boxes stuffed full of goodies that they then deliver to needy children all over the globe for Christmas.

     National Collection Week, though, is in November, before Thanksgiving—this year, November 12-19!

    My kids are adding everything they see on TV and in Wal-Mart to their Christmas lists.  So, it’s the perfect moment to take them shopping for gifts to give to another child, a child they’ll never meet on this planet and a child who isn’t likely to be opening any other packages on Christmas morning.

It’s a reminder to be grateful.  It’s a way to shift our focus off of getting and onto giving.

    I hope that you’ve packed a shoebox before and are making one again this year!  If not, here’s everything you need to know to get involved in Operation Christmas Child.

You can begin by learning more about the organization here, like:

     If you make a $7 donation online to cover the shipping for your box, you can even print off a label that lets you track it here!!  A few weeks after delivery, they’ll send you an email telling you what country your box was delivered to and some general information about the needs in that area.  Our boxes last year ended up in Tanzania.

     I usually let each of my girls pick items to fill a box for a child their gender and age.  This year, we’ll be sending off a box for a 2-4-year-old girl, and two 5-9 -year-old girls.  We picked out jump ropes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs, socks, t-shirts, small games like jacks and dominoes, stuffed animals, some candy, some shiny pencils and a pencil sharpener and more.  We practically have to sit on the boxes to make it all fit!

     Most important of all, pray for the child who will receive your shoebox!  Prayer is so powerful.  Don’t just send stuff, send gifts along with time spent on your knees.

     Here are some of my favorite OCC videos.

      There are so many opportunities to give every holiday season, but this is my very favorite.  I hope you’ll make Operation Christmas Child a part of your Thanksgiving traditions, as well!

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving traditions you can share with us?

To read more devotional thoughts from Heather King, check out her blog here: http://heathercking.wordpress.com/

Copyright © 2008-2015 Heather King

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