Kid-friendly Thanksgiving Foods 101

girl and pumpkins
Think of the kids when planning the menu, and let them get involved on the big day. See more pictures of pumpkin patches.

Families come together at Thanksgiving to celebrate, catch up and feast. While you may be looking forward to seeing your favorite relatives and eating Aunt Caroline's famous pumpkin pie, the crush of people and unfamiliar foods can overwhelm children. Bring the holiday down to their size with a kid's table supplied with familiar favorites and kid-sized versions of traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

Let Them Eat Snacks


It's hard to be patient and good-natured when you're hungry, especially when you're only about waist-high. Rather than ask your juvenile guests to wait for the turkey and trimmings to be served, let them start the party early at a children's table set with festive offerings of healthy finger foods. They can socialize and graze on cheese straws, raw vegetables, cheese cubes, grapes, nuts and, of course, popcorn. They'll be happy (and not underfoot) while you cook the main meal.


The volume of food and the oversized portions of Thanksgiving dinner can be daunting to little appetites. In your menu, include a batch of chicken drumsticks or turkey nuggets as options to the super-sized turkey drumsticks.

Then, put your muffin pans to work to take other offerings down a size, too.

  • Use the mini muffin pan to bake a batch of tiny cranberry orange muffins.
  • In the regular size muffin pan, bake individual servings of dressing, blessed with plenty of crispy edges.
  • Make cupcakes for the kids to decorate after dinner.
  • To make miniature pies, cut five-inch (12.7-centimeter) circles out of pie crust dough. Press the dough circles into muffin cups and fill with pie filling. Trim the tops with leftover dough scraps and bake.

For active kids, provide take-and-go desserts like bite-sized cookies.

Ask for Help

Kids will be more interested in trying foods they help prepare, so get them involved in the cooking. Younger chef-apprentices can arrange vegetable and cheese trays, even if they're too young to wield a knife. Let them toast bread for stuffing and get their hands into the bowl to mix it all up.

To get older kids cooperating, ask them to name their can't-live-without Thanksgiving dessert or side dish then, delegate the cooking of that item to them. Urge them to start early, maybe a day or two before Thanksgiving, and provide guidance appropriate to their age. Be sure to let them present the dish at dinner, and maybe brag a little.

Happing Endings

When you fire up the coffee pot for dessert, don't forget to brew up some happiness for the children, too. A mug of hot chocolate is the perfect ending to a busy day. To make it like Grandma did, in a sauce pan, heat one cup of milk with two tablespoons (12 grams) of cocoa and two tablespoons (12 grams) of sugar for each serving. When the cocoa is hot (but not boiling) pour it into kid-safe mugs.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Davis, Marcia. "Davis: Wishbone myth has long history." Scripps Interactive Newspaper Groups., November 19, 2006. (Accessed September 1, 2009).
  • Editors, Country Woman. "Bread Winners." Country Woman, The Country Lifestyle Magazine: November 2008, pp. 34-35.
  • FamilyFun. "Kids' Thanksgiving Dinner Fun." Best Ever Thanksgiving.
  • Kid's Cooking Activities. "Kids Thanksgiving Recipes." 2009. (Accessed August 27, 2009).
  • Marie, Jane. "Wishing on a Wishbone." (Accessed September 1, 2009).
  • Ray, Rachael. "Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins." October 7, 2007. (Accessed August 27, 2009).
  • "The Wishbone Oracle." Wishbone Restaurant Southern Reconstruction Cooking. (Accessed September 1, 2009).