Making Thanksgiving Fun for Everyone
The crisp chill of Autumn is in the air. Leaves have changed color and snow is beginning to cap the mountaintops. That can only mean one thing: Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Every family has its own traditions and rituals. I’d like to share one of my family’s traditions with you.
My family likes to use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to get as much of the extended family together as possible. This has the inevitable result of a screaming gaggle of small children who all vie for the adults’ attention. The problem is that the adults are trying to cook, chat with each other, and relax. So what to do? As my aunt would put it, “It’s time for some games.”
Games are a fun way of keeping your menagerie of tiny humans entertained without hearing endless choruses of “Let it Go.” The trick for us was to find games that could entertain ten children between the ages of 4 and 11. Old classics like Monopoly and Risk take longer than most kids have attention spans for, and no one wants to try and teach the subtleties of poker to a first grader (that’s way too much power in a child’s hands). So my family plays a game for children of all ages and limited focus.
The Wood-elf Hunt
I was raised on this game. Until I was ten, I genuinely believed that there existed small woodland creatures that subsisted on nothing but candy. If you followed the wrappers they left behind in the woods, they would lead you to their treasure trove of candy. If you found that candy, you had outsmarted the elves and you got to keep their candy. I never questioned why the elves didn’t leave footprints or why I never learned about them in school until I caught my Uncle Dave leaving the house early one day with the “treasure trove of elves’ candy.”
Here’s what you need to make this game work:
- Plastic baggies
- A quantity of candy that you feel comfortable feeding your group of children
- One adult to set up the course
- Enough adults to shepherd the children who are going to play
- An outdoor area where you can hide a bag of candy and litter some tinfoil for an hour or two without anyone getting mad at you for littering
The adult who sets up the course takes the “Treasure trove” of candy out to the woods (my family lived in wooded areas, this game is equally valid in a park, or on a beach, or on the precipice of a volcano). Then take some of the tinfoil and make little tinfoil balls and leave a small pile at the base of a tree. With the tree as a backdrop, the tinfoil balls point the direction to the next pile of tinfoil, which leads to the next, so on and so forth. Eventually, the trail leads to the candy treasure trove of the wood-elves which is typically accompanied by a large pile of tinfoil balls and is buried under some leaves or pine needles so the bright colors don’t give them away.
When that adult gets back home, then shepherd adults gather all of the munchkins together and tell them this story: “Once upon a time a group of little elves came to the woods (park, beach, volcano, etc.) by this house and made a little home. The only thing that those elves eat is candy! But you see, the elves are very messy and they leave their wrappers all over the woods. Smart people learned that if you follow the wrappers you could find the place where the elves leave all of their candy. Uncle/Aunt [insert course-setting adult here] went for a walk this morning and saw some of the wrappers they dropped. Do you kids want to go see if you can find the wood-elves’ candy?
No child can resist the siren song of free candy; the game is on!
Each of the kids gets a plastic baggie to put the “wrappers” in (the tinfoil balls). The shepherd adults take a nice leisurely walk through the woods as the kids look around trees, bushes, and rocks trying to pick up the trail. When they find the tinfoil “wrappers” they clean them up and put them in the bags they have. Depending on how long the trail was made and how perceptive the kids are, the hunt can go for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Keeping the kids on task is easy, “Find the trail = find free candy.” Once the treasure trove has been found, the shepherd adults help divvy up the candy amongst the group and walk back.
Adults get some peace and quiet for a while to enjoy their precious time off.
Kids get some exercise and learn to appreciate the wonders of the outdoors.
Candy for everyone.
Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy life with family and appreciate all the good things of life. We here at Fluid would like to share our attitude of gratitude with all of you and wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!