Last Minute Thanksgiving Table Decorations

We are leaving shortly for a trip up to the wilds of Northern California, where we will spend Thanksgiving weekend with some dear friends from college and their families.  It is the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving — but I know that tomorrow will be a crazy day, scrambling to get potatoes mashed, turkey basted, brussels cooked, popovers made and pies baked – all while entertaining seven kids under eight years old.  Oh – and it’s supposed to rain for the next two days straight.  Which means we need projects!!

My kids are always happiest when they’re feeling useful (don’t we all just want to feel needed??), so my plan is to keep them occupied tomorrow decorating the Thanksgiving table (bonus: cross one project off my to-do list!).  Here are the four projects I have planned:

1) I saw these great Thanksgiving placemats in this month’s Martha Stewart Living magazine; you can download the printables from the website hereI’m going to have the children decorate placemats for the kids’ table. 

I found myself next to Office Depot as I came out of the grocery store yesterday (my 4th trip to the market in one day!), so I popped in to get a roll of craft paper.  I cut sheets to 11×17 and sent them to work w/ my husband to make copies of the printables.  If that doesn’t happen (I’m putting the odds in his favor, but you never know about those man vs. machine battles), the kids can still decorate the placemats w/o the printables, of course.  And you could totally just use regular white 8.5×11 paper for this.

2) Now that I have this great roll of craft paper, I’m also going to have the kids make a table runner for the big table.  This will be a free-form activity — we’ll just roll out 8 ft or so of craft paper and let them go to town with markers & crayons.  I’m also bringing some glue, so if it’s not raining, they can gather leaves, acorns & stuff from outside and make a collage on the runner.

3) My 6-year old is really into writing names lately, so we’ve been eating with placecards at our dining table for a few weeks (if only it actually kept everyone IN their seats.)  So I’ve put him in charge of making placecards for the Thanksgiving table.  I packed a few sheets of cardstock, but you can certainly use plain paper.

4) Depending on when we get to it, we’ll either make pine cone turkeys, inspired by the Tiny Toms I saw on

Image from


…or, if it’s Friday or Saturday, we’ll move on to Pine Cone Christmas Trees, inspired by this image I saw on Pinterest:

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Either way, it gives us another good excuse to get outside and collect some pine cones – and create something pretty for the season.

So here’s what I’ve packed in my little “craft box” for the weekend:
* Markers
* Scissors
* Glue
* Pom poms, pipe cleaners
* Air dry clay (for the pine cone turkey)
* Little pots of paint (those small ones from Crayola) & brushes
* Paper – plain & cardstock
* Roll of craft paper

Hopefully it will keep us everyone happy & occupied while we whip up our Thanksgiving feast.

Wishing you and your family a safe, smooth and joyous Thanksgiving!  And if you have any other last-minute projects to entertain my troops, please share!


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