I’m taking the week off of blogging for the holiday, and I thought I’d leave you with what Ali and I created last Thanksgiving. But don’t let this post fool you – I haven’t done a single holiday thing with the kids yet this year. So if you have any quick Thanksgiving-ey craft ideas that could alleviate my Mommy Guilt, link them or tell me about them in the comments. I NEED YOU. And I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Originally Posted December 2, 2013


Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

I have a confession to make: I am a cynical Thankgivingist.

Not about the family or the food or internal giving of thanks, but mainly about public thanksgiving.

I shy away from posting what I’m thankful for or doing Thanksgiving crafts with my kids because I fear it will be contrived rather than genuine. Not to say that other people aren’t genuinely thankful in November, but something about being put on the spot to be publically thankful RIGHT NOW makes me thanks-adverse.

I know, I know – this makes me a horrible person. I acknowledge this and am thankful that God will forgive me for my abounding cynicism.

But I found myself quite accidentally thankscrafty last week. It came upon me unexpectedly and was a genuine moment of thankfulness shared between Ali and I – exactly the way I prefer it.

Ali lives to make and give away cards. She has giant bags full of cards that she’s spent hours making, and at the beginning of the day, she’ll ask me who we might see so that she can prepare herself with the number of cards needed.

She is so task-oriented about her card supply that she often heaves a great sigh and says “I have SO MUCH CARD WORK to do during quiet time.”

…because her current inventory of 487,000 cards is never enough.

As such, I told her a few days in advance that we would be having our family over for Thanksgiving, and that it was the perfect opportunity to make cards. And, since it was Thanksgiving and all, it would be fantastic if she could write each person a note saying what she was thankful for about them.

She jumped at the idea. We made a master list of our guests (16 people), and I helped her brainstorm about each card, then I left her to her work.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

I’m pretty sure she spent an entire quiet time intricately crafting her notes, and they were awesome – even containing illustrations.

I have several books full of scrapbook paper left over from my ModPodge Framing days, and I thought it might be fun to add a border to her cards.

Then I was all like, to heck with it – we’ll use a full sheet to back each card.

As we worked, I realized that they were now pretty much the perfect size for placemats – and we had a serendipitous moment of thanksgiving for our crafting fortune.

We finished backing all of our cards Wednesday evening, and on Thursday morning, as I was admiring our work, Chris said, “I assumed you were going to laminate those.”

LAMINATION!! Now THAT’S something I can be thankful for!

I whipped out my laminator and figured out how I could use 1 1/3 sheets of the laminating plastic I had in stock to on each card to seal them into perfect placemats.

And as the children watched the parade, I basked in my coffee, pretty papers, delightful notes, and my best friend the laminator.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

That right there is the cure for any amount of Thanksgiving cynicism.

I had to trim the pages ever so slightly for them to fit, but in the end, they made for my most favorite placemats ever.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

And they helped create a beautiful makeshift-tablescape for seventeen:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(The kid’s placemats later got moved to the kid’s tables.)

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

They didn’t photograph well individually, but here are a few of my favorites.

Ali’s thankful for her Great-Grandmother because she gets to give her cards.  I told you she was a cardaholic. Also – that drawing totally looks like Mammaw.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

For my Mom, she was sure to point out “Hey Gramamma – see all those circles on your face? I drew your moles for you.”

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(And no, those are moley hands, not chocolate chip cookies.)

Ali already enjoys partying with her brother and he’s not even in preschool yet. Mental note: send them to separate colleges.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

(NO, Y’ALL – Noah’s holding a Lego, not a bong.)

Her cousin Eli was given three illustrations to help him choose his facial covering for Movember:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

My brother Nick is good for one thing:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

Which may or may not be as fun as the one thing that my brother JC is good for:

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

And of course, I surprised Ali by adding in a seventeenth card.

Easy Thanksgiving dinner placemats made by children.

Which pretty much abdicates me from all of my thankful cynicism ever, and prevents the generational spread of my disease.

Or at least I’m hoping so.

2 thoughts on “Dinner Placemats of the Thankful Variety.

  1. If you need crafting ideas, check out enchantedlearning.com and dltk-kids.com. I like to decorate my classroom with a tree trunk made of brown paper (the kind shops have on giant rolls) covered with cut outs of leaves or hands. Each student writes 1-2 naming something or someone they are careful for. You could challenge Ali to think of as many people/ things she is thankful for and help Noah write what he is thankful for.

  2. Okay.. this one is the “oldie but goodie” and best of all, super easy.

    Turkey Hands.

    You need, paper, crayons (brown, red, orange, yellow, green) and if you want to be super fun, a few googley eyes (think Hobby Lobby).

    Trace kid’s hand. Color thumb and most of hand brown. Color each finger a different color- red, orange, yellow and green. Make two little stick legs. Slap on a googley eye to the thumb. Add a cute little red beak and gobbler-hangey thingie. Voila. Turkey hand. This year, I made these with my daughter and sent them to grammas, grandpas, people we needed to impress with our awesomeness, and I wrote on them “From your favorite little turkey. Gobble Gobble.” Then added her name and age. Easy. Cute. Mom win.

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