Do you have a couple of little ones who typically make meals kind of painful? I remember going out to dinner the first time after having our first child. It was a big deal for us because we were SO poor (my husband and I were both college students) and very rarely went out!
Our baby was probably about six months old, (that’s how rarely we went out!) because she could sit in the high chair the server brought us. I had found a coupon for a mexican restaurant, and we were both very excited.
We hadn’t even had a chance to order yet when our little angel began screaming. I tried holding her, nursing, toys and everything I could think of to distract her. Nope! I stood next to our table and bounced her. Nope! We hightailed it out of there after a few minutes because we didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s meal.
I quickly learned that leisurely, enjoyable meals were a thing of the past.
Do you longingly remember Thanksgiving dinner prior to the arrival of your little angels? When your biggest worry was saving enough room for pie?
I have something that might help! They won’t help an infant with a finely tuned altimeter. Nor will they help a six-month-old who knows she rules the roost. But if you have toddlers on up, they could come in really handy!
These fun, free, printable Thanksgiving placemats will keep your kiddos entertained, and will also help to contain the mess of the meal. There are three different designs, so your kids can get creative as they each color their own placemat.
The first placemat is geared to toddlers, with a cute, dot-to-dot turkey and a leaf match. It should keep him busy long enough for you to fill your plate. You might have to come up with another plan to buy enough time for you to actually eat, though.
The next placemat is for older kids, probably ages 5-12. It includes a word scramble, tic-tac-toe, a word search, and some hilarious Thanksgiving jokes you’ll enjoy hearing all weekend. Aren’t kids fun?
If you are wondering why older kids need entertainment at the table, you must not have any yet. My 12-yr-old can singlehandedly cause a bigger ruckus than a bus full of toddlers. He’ll use the toddlers to cause it! So, yes! Make sure you have some tricks up your sleeve (or stuffed in your diaper bag) for those older kids if you want to still be sane by the end of Thanksgiving dinner!
The final placemat has a fork, spoon and an empty plate for your child to color in her favorite meal. Since it’s just paper, she can go ahead and color a plateful of cookies or candy with no ill effects. You can see that’s exactly what my 5-year-old did.
I made these placemats with my own kiddos in mind, and I decided to share them in hopes that other weary and bedraggled moms might get some use out of them, too. Your sanity is my life’s mission.
You could also laminate these placemats (so they would be reusable) and let your child use dry erase markers (fine tip ones would work best in this case) on the laminated sheets. (Warning! Dry erase markers are hard to get out of light-colored clothing!)
I made these placemats letter size because I can send them to the wireless printer in my office and make my kids run get them. I’m lazy that way! Dragging my behind, and all of my kids, to the copy store to make larger copies is beyond my capabilities most days.
However, if you have extra energy and time, letter size will scale up perfectly to 2- 12″ x 18″ prints on an 18″ x 24″ engineering print. At Staples, or your local printer, just upload the file and order the black and white engineering print in 18×24″ size. It will cost you about $1.75 per two placemats.
Now all that is left is for you to print these out and remember to stuff them in your diaper bag so you can actually use them for Thanksgiving!
Ready to let your kids unleash their creativity with these placemats?
Download your free, printable copy of the Thanksgiving placemats here.
I know that these placemats aren’t miracles. They aren’t going to bring back that pre-parenting, carefree bliss. But I hope they can help in some small way to brighten your Thanksgiving just a little.