How to Host a Picky Eater on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just over a week away! When you’re planning your Turkey Day menu, don’t forget to think about the people who sit around the kids’ table.
Thanksgiving Turkey cooked by Joanna 2014“I am not serving chicken nuggets on Thanksgiving!”

That was my declaration one year as I was planning the menu for the family dinner I was hosting. Some children in the family wouldn’t eat much else. (Now, I’ll bend over backwards to accommodate guests with food allergies or other special needs–but that’s not what we were dealing with here.)

Holiday parties can be nightmares for children who have, shall we say, selective palates–as well as for their parents and their holiday hosts.

Thanksgiving can be particularly troublesome because it has a certain menu attached to it, and often that means there are foods no one sees at any other time of year (mashed rutabaga, anyone?)

Are you hosting kids at your Thanksgiving dinner this year? Here are some ways to make Turkey Day a little more kid-friendly:

  • Offer healthy snacks. A platter of fruit, a plate of cheese cubes (hold the jalapeño), and a raw vegetable platter are often well-received by children. Keep these available all day. If the kids fill up on carrots, celery, cucumbers and cheese, that’s not a bad thing.
  • Make child-pleasing appetizers. Serve some mozzarella sticks, pigs in a blanket, and pizza bagels.
  • Serve something familiar. No matter how many other vegetables are served on Thanksgiving in my family, there has to be corn–and plenty of it.
  • Hold the sauce. And the gravy. While you might want to try those new gourmet twists on Thanksgiving favorites, check with moms of small children to see if they’d prefer their food served more simply, and have them plate their kids’ portions before you add any toppings.
  • Provide a finger-food dessert. By the time dessert rolls around, some kids have just had it with all the new foods they’ve been offered. A tray of their favorite cookies (and, again, a fruit tray) are excellent additions to your dessert table.
  • Don’t make it a big deal. Invite your visitors to try something new–but don’t insist. Keep it light. Remember, it’s a holiday–a fun day.

I did not serve chicken nuggets on that holiday, and my young guests did not starve or have tantrums.

This article was originally published at The New Parents Guide blog in November 2013.


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