Books and Crafts

A Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

Have you ever read the book Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf? Why not create a “thanksgiving in the woods” experience together as a family? This simple family bonding activity is perfect for the Thanksgiving season!

I hope that this post will empower and inspire you create a special meal experience with your children that is beautiful, memorable, and allows you all as readers to connect with the characters from the book.

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

The Story

The story, Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf, was inspired by a real family living in New York. Every year for decades, this family has gathered in the woods on the family farm to celebrate thanksgiving.

They light bonfires, hang tarps for shelter, sing songs, and enjoy time together with family and friends. It is a beautiful tradition and it inspired Alsdurf to write a story from the perspective of a little boy preparing for family thanksgiving in the woods.

If a family in New York can create a magical thanksgiving outside, why can’t we?

Use this book as an opportunity to work together as a family, create unforgettable memories, and connect with the characters in a whole new way!

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

The Location

To create your own “thanksgiving in the woods” experience, let’s think about the location. To me, the part that makes this book so special is the idea of eating a nice meal outside. However, I live in Florida, so November is the ideal time of year to eat outside.

Whether you choose set up a table outside in your backyard, on an apartment balcony, or stick with your warm cozy dining room, find a way to make the location special compared to your typical family dinners.

If the weather is bearable, though, I vote that you shoot to create a “thanksgiving in the woods” experience for your family outside.

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

The Lighting

Something that stood out to me in the book was the cozy lighting. You’ll notice that the illustrated included lots and lots of twinkling lights draped on every tree branch in the backgrounds of her pictures. I love twinkle lights!

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

The book also stated that the family used bonfires for warmth and light. Inspired by the thanksgiving set up in the illustrations, I pulled out a few strands of Christmas lights and all the candles I could find from around my house to create a warm, cozy ambiance at my Thanksgiving table.

When you set up your own “thanksgiving in the woods” experience, consider the lighting. Hang Christmas lights around your yard or drape them from the ceiling in your dining room. Fill your table with candles from around your home and turn off electric main inside and outside of your home. Light a bonfire, if you are able, to provide additional warmth and light.

Bask in the magic of the quiet outdoors, the twinkle from the Christmas lights, and the warm flicker of your candles. To me, the lighting is everything!

The change in lighting is what will make this whole dinner experience different for your children and closely resonate with the Thanksgiving set up in the story.

The Menu

Obviously, the meal mentioned in the story is a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but this menu may not work for your own “thanksgiving in the woods.”

Personally, I would choose a meal that is rare, but a family favorite. I think that part of the reason why Thanksgiving is so special and exciting is because the menu is usually only served once a year and yet it’s everyone’s favorite! Do you have another meal like this for your family? You rarely make it, but everyone loves it? If so, that should be your menu!

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

Maybe you’re thinking “Wow! This sounds so fun! But I don’t have the time to cook some big special meal.” Then don’t, Mama. Throw a yummy soup into the crockpot in the morning and serve it for your special dinner in the evening.

The point of creating your own “thanksgiving in the woods” is not to create pressure to cook a big, special, complicated meal. Rather, it’s an opportunity to get your children involved, bring the family together, and connect with the characters in the story in a whole new way!

At the end of the meal, the characters in the story huddle around the bonfire and make yummy s’mores! And you can too! If you have a way to create a bonfire, prepare a tray of s’mores supplies and let the family have at it.

If you are unable to make traditional s’mores, check out this easy and delicious s’mores dip that you can make in your oven. Trust me . . . no one in your family will complain.

Get Involved As A Family

All of this sounds fun, right?!

Well, there is one thing I must insist on in order for this idea to be a success. Get the kids involved. It wouldn’t be a true family bonding activity if the kids are not fully engaged and involved in the process.

First, begin your experience by reading the book Thanksgiving in the Woods together . Next, discuss with your kiddos what a “thanksgiving in the woods” would look like for your family. What could you do to make a family meal feel very special, different, and bond the family together in a new way this Thanksgiving?

Then, let your kids help with the set up to the best of their ability. They can hang lights, set the table, help prepare the meal, and more! In the story, the kids were very involved in making the meal a possible. The whole family worked together to get everything set up just right. The same can happen in your family.

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

Give your children the opportunity to step into the shoes of the main character for a time. Let them feel his excitement and anticipation. Let them feel his gratitude for family and friends. Let them feel his feeling of tired accomplishment as the evening comes to a close.

This beautiful book will take on a whole new meaning for you and your family as you bond and create memories that will last for ever . . . and maybe even create a new tradition!

Whatever it looks like, however you make it happen, I wish you the best Thanksgiving in the Woods!

Simple Family Bonding Activity for Thanksgiving

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