Collage of Barrett Prendergast, Erica Domesek, Joy Cho and Kaitlyn Kirby

Have some little ones celebrating Thanksgiving with you? If so, you may be wondering how to keep them entertained, happy with their dinner if they’re a little (or a lot) picky and how to make the day easier for you. Wonder no longer—we asked four moms to give us their tips, tricks and insights into how they make Thanksgiving fun for the whole family. Here’s what they said:

Barrett Prendergast from Valleybrink Road


What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Growing up, the holidays were always a time where we cooked together as a family…all the kids in the kitchen would contribute in some way to the meal we would be sharing. This is a tradition I love sharing with our boys. And, as they get older and older, there is more and more they can do and are excited about when it comes to cooking.

Any tips on what to serve picky little eaters?
Luckily, a traditional Thanksgiving meal is filled with lots of kid-friendly options. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, biscuits, turkey and a simple veggie side—these are all things that lots of kids will eat and be excited about. Just wait to garnish the dishes, or set out smaller bowls of the “kid-friendly” items before you jazz them up for the adults with things like herbs, gravy, etc. Here’s our recipe for mashed potatoes.

Any “mom hacks” on how to make Thanksgiving dinners less laborious?
Prep as much as you can ahead of time. Things like chopping veggies, making gravy, cranberry sauce or preparing the dough for biscuits are all things you can do a day or two in advance that will save you so much time on Thanksgiving. Also, if you are making a homemade pie or baked dessert, you can often get these things prepped a few days before as well.

How do you incorporate your kids into Thanksgiving meal prep?
Baking is always a great way to get kids involved. Mine love to use an electric mixer, roll out dough with a rolling pin, and use the round biscuit/cookie cutters. Just measure out everything you need for the recipe beforehand, so you won’t be stressed out while they are “helping”. Then, call them into the kitchen to be your sous chef!

Erica Domesek from P.S.—I Made This

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
Well, the first thing I think about is, of course, all of the yummy food. However…when I moved to L.A., I bought these silly turkey headbands because we hosted Thanksgiving, and now they have made an appearance every single year for the past six years.

Any new traditions that you’re starting this Thanksgiving?
Now that my son is almost 3, he can actually understand the holidays and the meanings behind them, which is super fun. I want to start to do fun art projects with him (like this cute DIY Thanksgiving placemat), both in the kitchen and in ways to help him understand gratitude.

Any tips on what to serve picky little eaters?
Create food that tells a cute and edible Thanksgiving story. Spread out your veggies in the shape of a colorful turkey or pumpkin. When we allow our kids to play with food a little or be playful with the presentation it’s a win! I’m a big fan of having art projects for kids to have access to right in front of them at the dinner table as well.

What’s your family’s favorite go-to dish?
I am a stuffing and mashed potatoes girl through and through! I use fresh celery, onion and tons of fresh parsley and dill in my stuffing. For creamy mashed potatoes, I add a sneaky bit of cream cheese…shhhh don’t tell!

Joy Cho from Oh Joy!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
My husband and I are both from Philly but live in LA. Since it’s a short holiday break, we rarely go home for it (we save the trip for Christmas instead). So we love having friends over who are also East Coast transplants, and we can celebrate all together.

What do your kids typically love to do on Thanksgiving?
They love to help set the table. Kids love feeling that they are part of the team, so give them tasks that feel age-appropriate.

Any tips on how to keep young kids seated at the table?
Coloring activities are always fun! Make placemats for them out of printed sheets with fun fall themes!

Any “mom hacks” on how to make Thanksgiving dinners less laborious?
Don’t make everything yourself. Be in charge of a few things and have guests bring some dishes too. Share the workload, and it will be so much and it will be so much more fun!

Kaitlyn Kirby, Founder + Editor-in-Chief of Mini Magazine

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
For as long as I can remember, we’ve always made breakfast and watched the parade! I can’t think of a year where the famous line the night before wasn’t, “What time does the parade start?” I love to make something fun that morning like cinnamon rolls and point out each float to my daughter, who’s now four and can recognize some of the characters like Sesame Street and Charlie Brown.

Any “mom hacks” on how to make Thanksgiving dinners less laborious?
I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving the last few years, and let me tell you, I don’t think I make anything the day of anymore. I make everything the day before (or even two days before!) Thanksgiving and then keep it all in the fridge to pop in the oven that day. We actually don’t eat meat in our house, so I don’t even have a bird to cook! I do buy all of the ingredients for our cheeseboard early and then assemble the spread (items still in their packages) on the board so I can visualize where everything will go. Then the day of, I just have to arrange it!

What’s your family’s favorite go-to dish?
Just about all of my recipes are my grandma’s, and I cannot have a Thanksgiving dinner without her corn casserole and cinnamon Jello. They’re both so easy to make, but they are what stand out in my mind as THE Thanksgiving staples since I was little.

How do you incorporate your kids into Thanksgiving meal prep?
My daughter Penelope is four, and I can hold her attention to help with the super easy dishes, like the cinnamon Jello I mentioned! I let her pour packages into bowls and mix or give her napkins to set the table. My youngest is 18 months and will likely undo all of the pretty table settings before dinner is ready. Ha!

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