While Mom and Dad are busy preparing for the Thanksgiving feast, you can get ready for holiday entertaining with these crafts and activities.

TURKEY TALK PLACE SETTING

Items needed: Brown, red, yellow and orange construction paper, ruler, pencil, scissors, glue, small wiggly eyes, stapler, yellow or orange drinking straw, cardstock.

  1. On brown paper draw and cut out a 7-inch half circle and a 2-inch oval.

  2. Wrap the half circle end to end to make a cone shape for the turkey's body and secure with glue. (Leave a small opening at the narrow end of the cone to insert a straw later.)

  3. Glue two wiggly eyes onto the brown oval to form the turkey's head.

  4. Cut out a small orange triangle and a red teardrop shape to represent the turkey's beak and wattle. Glue these to the face and then attach the head to the narrow portion of the cone.

  5. Trace around your hand on the remaining paper to form turkey feathers. Cut these out and attach to the back side of the turkey's body with a stapler.

  6. Make a 3/4-inch slit across one end of the drinking straw then slip it into the top opening of the cone.

  7. Cut cardstock to 3 ½- by 2-inches. Write "Gobble, Gobble" and your guest's name on the place card and slip it into the straw slit. Repeat these steps for every guest attending your Thanksgiving banquet.

HEAD GOBBLIN' GEAR

Items needed: Brown poster board, pencil, ruler, scissors, tape, glue, construction paper, medium wiggly eyes.

  1. Cut a 2 ½- by 22-inch rectangle from the poster board to make a headband. Tape the headband so it fits snugly around your head. Set aside.

  2. Cut a 3 ½-inch circle and a 5- by 1 ½-inch rectangle from the poster board.

  3. Fold the rectangle from step 2 accordion style, then open up and glue the circle to one end to create the turkey's head and neck.

  4. From the construction paper, cut a small, yellow triangle for the turkey's beak and a small, red L-shape for the wattle.

  5. Glue the wiggly eyes and facial features to the head. Tape the open end of the accordion neck to the interior side of the headband.

  6. Use various colors of the construction paper to cut out pointed ovals that measure 1 ½- by 7-inch to create feathers.

  7. Glue feathers to the back interior side of the headband.

BLESSING BANNER

Items needed: Roll of white banner paper, scissors, ears of corn, corn cob holders, tempera paints (fall colors), paper plates, markers, tape.

  1. Break several raw ears of corn in thirds so you have a small cob for each color of paint.

  2. Attach corn cob holders to the ends of each cob.

  3. Place one color of paint onto each paper plate.

  4. Roll corn in one color of paint then across the top, bottom and sides of the paper to form the banner's frame.

  5. Repeat step 4 using different cobs and colors, overlapping patterns and hues. Let dry.

  6. Across the center of the banner write "Happy Thanksgiving." Embellish with festive drawings - turkeys, cornucopias, etc.

  7. Hang the banner in a prominent place.

  8. When guests arrive for your feast, have them write on the banner one thing they are thankful for.

HARVESTING HISTORY

You may think the Pilgrims were the first to give thanks for the season's bounty, but a kaleidoscope of cultures have been celebrating fall festivities for thousands of years. In Ancient Greece, the Festival of Thesmosphoria was held annually to commemorate the abundance of grain. In the Roman World, a harvest festival called Cerelia was held each year. The Ancient Chinese also celebrated with Chung Ch'ui, which they believed to be the moon's birthday. This three-day celebration, which continues today, features round yellow cakes with rabbit imprints because that was the image the patriarchs saw in the moon. The Hebrew nation has carried on their forefathers' traditions, too, with the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering, which commemorates God's provision while wandering in the desert.

In fall of 1621, the Pilgrims wanted to hold a celebratory event after having survived their first year in the New World. The governor at the time, William Bradford, proclaimed it a day of thanksgiving to God and encouraged the Pilgrims to include their neighboring natives in the festivities. The celebration continued annually, and nearly 250 years later in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed it a national day of thanks. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November.

GRATITUDE GALORE

Every nation has its own way of saying "Thank you". See if you can pronounce these:

  • Cantonese Chinese: do jeh (daw-dyeh)

  • Mandarin Chinese: xie xie (syeh-syeh)

  • French: merci (mehr-see)

  • German: danke (dahn-kah)

  • Greek: efharisto (ef-har-rih-stowe)

  • Hebrew: toda (toh-dah)

  • Italian: grazie (gra-see)

  • Spanish: gracias (gra-see-us)

ABUNDANT READS

  • "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie" by Alison Jackson.

  • "If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620" by Ann McGovern.

  • "Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving" by Eric Metaxas.

  • "Turkeys, Pilgrims and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols" by Edna Barth.


Denise Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the thankful mother of three children and four grandchildren.