Nowadays, Thanksgiving is primarily about family (and eating). However, the holiday was originally about giving thanks for the bounty of food that was to help folks through the lean winter months. These kid-friendly ideas will help get your family back to Thanksgiving's roots.
Get Crafty Together
The holiday table is the center of all things Thanksgiving, and there’s no better way to make it festive -- and eco-friendly -- than to craft homemade decorations with the kids. My family likes to use things we already have around the house (or in the backyard). We’ve discovered that paper towel rolls make excellent turkeys: Simply cut the roll in half (each half is a turkey) and glue real or construction-paper feathers to the back. Draw eyes and a beak and you’ve got a fun, handcrafted decoration that stands on its own.
For a bright and natural centerpiece, kids can help fill big bowls with seasonal fruits, gourds and colorful leaves. Added eco-perk: The centerpiece can be eaten or composted after the party! You can also make each member of the dinner party feel extra-special with homemade place cards. Just write each guest's name on a small piece of paper and glue it to a big leaf. Whatever you choose, just be sure to use items that you already have on hand!
Baking is an easy way to involve kids in the preparation of the feast, and this recipe for oatmeal cookies couldn't be more kid-friendly. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl, adding the eggs one at a time, and bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for eight minutes. Even the youngest kids can drop spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet! Help your kids understand green values by telling them how each of the ingredients comes from the Earth.
Soft Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Only Cook the Favorites
To avoid waste and save money, purchase and cook only food you know will be appreciated. That's truly going green! If your kids love chicken, then consider skipping the turkey. Likewise, only one member of my family -- ahem, me! -- really likes pumpkin pie. Year after year, I’ve put down more than my share of that spiced creamy smoothness because I thought it was tradition. But not this year. We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving 2010 with nothing more than a Tofurkey and french-fried yams. Not typical or traditional, but it’s what my family loves to eat.
If you do happen to find yourself with an overabundance of leftovers, have your kids help you pack them up and then drop them off at a homeless shelter to share your culinary talents with people in need.
Lynda Fassa is the founder of Green Babies, an organic-cotton baby clothing company, and the author of two books (Green Babies, Sage Moms and Green Kids, Sage Families). She is a frequent blogger for sites like Grist.org, ParentsConnect.com, Treehugger.com and PlanetGreen.com. Lynda has also appeared in People, The New York Times, Parents and Parenting, and on the “Today” show, “Planet Green,” “Fox News Happy Hour,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC News” and more.