Create a Thanksgiving children’s table that is as fun as it is thoughtful.
Thanksgiving preparations can be overwhelming—cooking the turkey can seem to take as long as the Mayflower voyage, not to mention setting a table with layers of china and silver. So make the kid’s table a breeze with fun, natural elements that will keep them entertained, too.
First we called upon the notes of the season with a burlap table runner draped over a natural wood table. Reusable bamboo serving pieces continue the theme, are eco-friendly while simplifying clean up, and won’t have you worrying about broken plates. Each place setting is topped with a cardboard “thankful box” (from a crafts store or repurposed to-go containers) that guests can fill with written notes of what they are thankful for and then share with the other guests. Mason jars filled with colorful pencils are both handy and bring color to the festive table. Additional sentiments can be written on a chalkboard placemat. Pressed autumn leaves add to the table’s festive notes and retain their color to use for future holidays.
Two centerpieces celebrate the holiday’s favorite bird—and both are edible. A pineapple pinned with a turkey head made out of construction paper is simple to craft. The other turkey is a generously sized honeydew melon where kids can create the “feathers” (skewers) with cubes of cheese, grapes, pineapple, berries or whatever healthy edible catches your eye while you’re grocery shopping. A pear used for the head, positioned with the stem downward, is firmly secured with a generous amount of shortened skewers. This showy and healthy creation may be as pretty as any pie or roasted turkey, but don’t expect it to hold its shape because the skewered delights will be too enticing to pass up!
Melon Turkey Centerpiece
1 large honeydew or cantaloupe melon
6-12 bamboo skewers
Sharp cheddar and/or Jack cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
Ham, cut into 1-inch cubes, optional
Any combination desired of red or purple grapes, dried pitted plums, blackberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple chunks, red or yellow bell pepper slices, melon cubes, etc.
1 whole pear
2 raisins and 2 toothpicks, for “eyes”
1. Take a small slice from the bottom of the melon so it won’t roll. Place melon on a plate or platter.
2. Make skewers, alternating ingredients as desired.
3. Carefully place skewers in the melon to form the tail feathers of the “turkey.” You can use shortened skewers to build the tail’s look and place those in front of longer skewers. Get creative, alternating colors/ingredients as desired.
4. Make the “head” and “face” by attaching a whole pear to the front, using skewer pieces to hold it in place. Use toothpicks to hold raisin “eyes” and use red or yellow pepper slices for “feet,” if desired.
Applesauce Spice Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-35 minutes
1 box of your favorite yellow or golden butter cake mix
1 stick butter, softened
1½ cups applesauce
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
1 can whole cranberries, drained, as topping, optional
Non-stick spray to coat pans
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans
3. Combine cake mix, butter, applesauce, eggs and spices in a large bowl. With electric mixer or by hand, beat for approximately 3-4 minutes.
4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes.
5. Cool cakes completely then turn out layers onto baking racks.
6. Place one layer flat side up on cake platter and frost top with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting. Place second layer on top then frost completely.
7. Top with canned whole cranberries if desired.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or Neufchatel, softened
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
2 Tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt (drained)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, such as McCormick brand
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. Combine cheese, butter, sour cream or yogurt and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat well, until light and fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until combined. Refrigerate any unused portions.
Written and photographed by Jacqueline deMontravel
Recipes by Jacqueline deMontravel and Hillary Black