Ideas To Keep Kids Busy While Waiting For The Holiday Dinner

Ways to keep kids entertained during the holiday dinner

This post has been sponsored by Mott’s®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

No one wants hangry kids during the holidays. I’m sharing ideas to keep kids busy while waiting for the holiday dinner, plus a kid’s holiday tablescape idea down below. 

No one wants hangry kids during the holidays. I'm sharing ideas to keep kids busy during the holiday dinner, plus a kid's holiday tablescape idea down below. 

Ideas To Keep Kids Busy During The Holiday Dinner

It’s no secret Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s also no secret that I LOVE to decorate and come up with a new tablescape each holiday. When Christmas comes, I like to put extra attention and detail into my theme. Our boys are also big into celebrating the holidays. It’s a time to spend with family, stay up late watching Christmas movies, eating food, giving and receiving gifts, visiting family, and having a big holiday dinner.

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids get antsy and impatient when the food is not ready. There’s usually one or two dishes that need to be heated up, or we’re waiting for that one uncle to show up before we can eat. It all makes us a little hangry, but I’ve learned over the years to be prepared.

Ways to keep kids entertained during the holiday dinner

It’s easy for the kids to whip out their phones and zone out. We have a no-electronics rule at our dinner table, and holidays are no exceptions. I put together a list of ideas on how we keep our kids entertained before the holiday dinner.

Ways To Keep Kids Entertained While Waiting For The Holiday Dinner

Ways to keep kids entertained during the holiday dinner

You can stop at your local craft or dollar store (such as Dollar General) to find cheap portable games and pads of game ideas like the ones I have above. This is a great way to keep any child entertained before and after dinner.

Ideas To Keep Kids Busy While Waiting For The Holiday Dinner

Depending on when your holiday dinner is taking place, you can have the kids create an ornament to put on their Christmas tree or give as a gift. Try our edible ornament idea!

Have snacks at the ready. I look for snack ideas that I know won’t spoil a child’s appetite and that aren’t loaded with sugar, so fruit and Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce pouches are things I keep on the table.

Ways to keep kids entertained during the holiday dinner

Board games. Board games are another way to keep the kids entertained, as well as spend time engaging with each other. I like portable games, card games, and small board games I can carry with me (when we travel), or that will fit easily on the table without disturbing the table setting. I made a portable Christmas tic-tac-toe game for the boys, and I’m sharing how you can make one for your family.

How to make a portable tic-tac-toe game board

How To Make A Portable Tic-Tac-Toe Board Game


  • Red Spray Paint
  • Paintbrush or small craft roller
  • Pine box
  • small bottle of white craft paint
  • pieces to use for the x’s and o’s
  • optional: holiday stencil decals

How to make a portable tic-tac-toe game board


  1. I spray painted the outside of the box and allowed it to dry overnight. (It will be completely dry within 3-4 hours).
  2. After the outside is dry, open it up and spray paint the inside.
  3. Once the inside is completely dry, place a holiday stencil at the top of the inside of the box. Paint over the stencil decal with white paint.
  4. Once dry, place another stencil decal on the outside of the box. (this is optional).
  5. Open up the box and paint or dry white lines to create the tic-tac-toe board.

Once it’s dry, you’re ready to use it.

How to make a portable tic-tac-toe game board

This craft is super easy and simple to make, plus it’s portable. You can use it for road trips, on the airplane, or around the dinner table.

How to make a portable tic-tac-toe game board


How to make a portable tic-tac-toe game board

Another thing I like to do to keep kids entertained during the holiday dinner is to give them little bags full of party favors.

How to keep kids entertained during the holidays

Inside the bags, I will put candy canes, party favors picked up at Dollar General, and snacks to keep them from the “I’m starving” phase until the food is ready. You can also include portable games they can take with them, as well as the Christmas ornament they made for their tree.

Kid-Friendly Holiday Dinner Ideas

Kid-Friendly Holiday Dinner Ideas

Speaking of food, do you create a separate kid-friendly menu for your kids? For our Thanksgiving dinner, we serve turkey, dressing, mac & cheese, sweet potatoes, creamy greens, cornbread, and a list of other side dishes.  Our boys will eat the turkey, mac & cheese, sweet potatoes, greens, and bread. I don’t stress about what they eat, as long as they eat something. Derrick has gone out of his way many of times and created the boys their own menu. They love sandwiches, so he will make them Thanksgiving sandwiches.

Our Thanksgiving sandwiches consist of:

  • Turkey
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Sweet Potatoes

Yes, I realize it’s the same food served the regular way. But, there’s something special about it being served as a sandwich. So, if you’re kids don’t like to eat everything on their plate, try making them a Thanksgiving sandwich. We’ve also served them french toast, bacon, and applesauce. And one year, they had chicken nuggets. For Christmas two years ago, we created a taco bar- and all the kids loved it!  One thing I’ve learned is this; kids will eat when they are hungry. So parents, don’t stress if they don’t eat everything on their plate.

How to create a Kids Holiday Tablescape

My last suggestion on keeping the kids entertained while waiting to eat is to let them have their own space. Growing up, we ate at the kid’s table until we were old enough to sit still and join in the grown folk’s conversation. And while the adult table seemed quite entertaining me, my siblings, and cousins kept ourselves pretty entertained at our own table. When I put together a kid’s tablescape, I like to create a space that allows them to feel special and important. Instead of just tossing some paper plates on a card table and calling it a day, I want them to feel included in the holiday festivities. So, I put as much effort into creating their space as I put into the table for the adults.

How to create a Kids Holiday Tablescape

A few things to keep in mind when creating a kid’s tablescape:

  • Keep the silverware to the minimum, especially if there are younger kids. You may want to opt for plastic silverware, and only lay down the necessary utensils.
  • While paper plates make for an easier cleanup and no worries of broken plates, I want the kids to feel their holiday dinner table is special and festive. I use white plastic dinnerware. It’s not going to break but will look better than paper plates. I also dress up the plate with a charger underneath, and a plastic holiday salad plate on top.
  • Use wrapping paper or white craft paper to cover the table. I like using wrapping paper to decorate my table for the holidays because it helps give a festive look, and if anyone spills anything, I can just toss the paper in the trash. Kids Holiday Tablescape + Entertainment Ideas
  • You can also use white craft paper, give the kids crayons and markers and let them draw on the table while they wait for their food.
  • For centerpieces and other knick-knacks: If you have younger children at the table, plan to keep them off or use plastic decorations. You want everything on their table to be safe and kid-friendly.
  • Keep snacks on the table. I like to buy Mott’s 100% Original Apple Juice and their Unsweetened Applesauce Pouches.

Kids Holiday Tablescape + Entertainment Ideas

Look around your home for decor items to place on the table. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on decorating their table. You can also stop by Dollar General and find budget-friendly decorations to use on your kid’s holiday table.

Kids Holiday Tablescape + Entertainment Ideas

During the holiday season, I keep my fridge loaded up with extra snacks and food. The boys are on their winter break, which means they are in and out of the fridge and cabinets every hour (seriously, I am not even kidding!). My boys grew up on Mott’s products because I KNOW what’s in them. And I know they are a healthy alternative juice and snack option.

Kids Holiday Tablescape

My kids will eat enough sweets from all of the relatives’ candy bowls, fudge, and Christmas cookies, so I make sure I keep good snack options at home. While we’re out on the go, visiting relatives or running errands, I also keep a supply of Mott’s products in my bag, because we all have that one kid that needs a snack right now.

Kid-Friendly Holiday Dinner Ideas

{this is the kid!}

Holidays around the Worthey house are fun, full of Christmas spirit and love. Keep the kids entertained and fed, and all will be right with the world (no, seriously do this). I shopped at my local Dollar General for party favor ideas and Mott’s products. Did you know Dollar General carries a little bit of everything, including holiday decorations? Plus, their prices are reasonable, and won’t break the bank. For example, they carry the lowest price of Mott’s 100% Original Apple Juice 6-packs nationwide. I found the Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce 3.2 oz. 4-pack pouch in the snack aisle, and the Mott’s 100% Original Apple Juice 8 oz. 6-pack juice in the juice aisle.

Ways to keep kids entertained

Learn more about the Mott’s brand and why we love them by visiting their website, plus get more ideas on how to use Mott’s during the holiday season!

You can also follow them here: Facebook | Twitter| Instagram

We wish you a safe and happy holiday!

The Worthey Family

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  1. Emily
    December 12, 2017

    Cute ideas. We are going home for the first time in four years. Maybe I’ll do some of these to make my kids not be crazy during dinner lol

    • December 18, 2017

      Oh good luck Emily! LOL Keeping them entertained while waiting for dinner to get started can be a full-time job!! It’s like, stop hitting your brother- sit up in the chair- don’t crawl under the table! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

  2. December 18, 2017

    these are awesome ideas. I am hosting this year, so I will use some of these for sure.

  3. December 18, 2017

    I loved that tic tac toe board especially the X’s and O’s animals for the holiday. I would feel very good giving my son the natural apple juice from Mott’s.

  4. December 18, 2017

    Games and snacks are key to keeping kids occupied. A bored and/or hungry kid is no fun to be around. Then again, a bored, hungry adult is no fun to be around, either. LOL

  5. jmanandmillerbug
    December 18, 2017

    There is a lot of fun ideas here! This would keep the kiddos happy for a long time while I cook!

  6. December 18, 2017

    The portable Tic Tac Toe game is so cute! I love how easy it is to make and that it has a holiday theme to it! Snacks are always a good thing and keeps my girls busy all the time!

  7. December 18, 2017

    Awesome ideas Tatanisha! Keeping the kids occupied can be a daunting task.

  8. Claudia Krusch
    December 18, 2017

    These are great ways to keep kids bust while waiting for dinner. I like the mini game boards. Crafts are always a great idea.

  9. December 18, 2017

    Your table looks so beautifully festive. I could use some of these items to keep my 3 busy without electronics.

  10. Kathy
    December 18, 2017

    This is such a great idea. I need to make some boxes full of stuff for all the kids. Those games look like a lot of fun for the kids. I have to say that we love Motts too!

  11. December 18, 2017

    Keeping snacks on the table is always worth doing. Providing some of those cute tic-tac-toe games is such a good idea!

  12. December 18, 2017

    This collection will make for a lovely evening for the little ones as we prep for the holiday meals. I could see it being a fun holiday tradition playing Tic Tac Toe & nibbling snacks.

  13. December 18, 2017

    I love the idea of having a busy box. What a good idea. I actually need to h

  14. December 19, 2017

    I love the tic tac toe box. It would be a great thing for them to make and then play as a project.

  15. December 19, 2017

    Great tips! I’m thankful that my kids are pretty good when waiting for dinner. They are always so busy playing.

  16. December 19, 2017

    I really like the idea of having small, portable games available for the kids to play with. It will make the time pass by more quickly.

  17. December 19, 2017

    These are really great ideas! Kids will surely enjoy these!

  18. December 19, 2017

    These are great ideas! I personally love the tic tac toe box! It’s cute and handy!

  19. reesa
    December 19, 2017

    I am loving this idea! Right as dinner is getting on the table it seems when kids get the most bored!

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