How To Cultivate A Sensory Friendly Thanksgiving For Your Kids & Family

| 0 min read

Thanksgiving (and most holidays) come with a lot of sensory-heavy moments.

Whether you have a child with sensory sensitivities or you want to help cultivate a less stressful Thanksgiving, there are many ways to help prepare your kids and family for a more relaxed and sensory friendly holiday. 

Thanksgiving (and most holidays) come with a lot of sensory-heavy moments. From the scents to the sounds to the socializing – the sensory experiences that come with Thanksgiving can lead to a feeling of overwhelm, for kids with or without sensory sensitivities.

Boy sitting on chair ready for Thanksgiving dinner in his City Threads clothing.

The sensory experiences that come with Thanksgiving can lead to a feeling of overwhelm.

Girl wearing City Threads clothing in a comfortable dress in the Fall

Here’s some ways you can help cultivate a more sensory friendly Thanksgiving this year for your kids and the entire family –

Plan Ahead Of Time. With Thanksgiving (and many holidays), there are a lot of changes to your kids’ everyday routines. You might be traveling or welcoming guests into your home. Bedtime might get pushed a bit later than normal, and there will definitely be different foods on the table like turkey and stuffing. All of these realities can increase stress and feel overwhelming to the senses for your kids. Before Thanksgiving arrives, talk with your kids about what is to come. If they don’t remember, you can show photos or videos from last year to help them ease their mind on what to expect. Many psychologists suggest that kids learn through play – so *playing Thanksgiving* or reading picture books about the holiday could be another way to help kids gradually welcome the upcoming holiday.

Create A Sensory Friendly Environment. There are some key ways you can help create a sensory friendly environment at your home for kids and adults. If you are visiting someone else for Thanksgiving, you can ask the host to try to consider some of these sensory friendly ideas. Reduce excess noise by turning off background music and creating multiple spaces for guests to congregate (so the noise doesn’t get too loud in one confined space). A sensory friendly space does not have any flashing lights or fluorescent lights to help the area feel calm. Also, make sure to offer multiple comfortable seating areas.

Have A Relaxed Dress Code / Prepare Sensory Friendly Outfits For Your Kids. Oftentimes, the dress codes for holidays can get a little extreme. For a sensory friendly Thanksgiving, comfort is key and should be the top priority, especially for kids. Also, brands like City Threads have a diverse offering of sensory friendly styles that translate well into more of a dressy situation (without the starched, itchy fabrics). From kids soft cotton polo shirts that feel like t-shirts to boys semi formal knit pants with a pull-up waist to cute soft cotton dresses, cardigans, and leggings for girls, you can find both classic and comfortable looks for the holidays.

Before Thanksgiving arrives, talk with your kids about what is to come.

Create A Quiet Zone For Guests. Sometimes all the sensory elements can become a bit too much – for kids and adults, with and without sensory sensitivities. Setting up an enclosed quiet zone is a great way to create a safe space for anyone to go when they need a break. Set out some arts and crafts tools or books, and keep it quiet in this space. All the guests may thank you for offering this little hiding spot to help them take a break from it all.

Welcome Movement Breaks From The Chaos. Movement can be an amazing way to help both kids and adults relax. Invite everyone to join in a neighborhood walk before and/or after the big Thanksgiving meal. Getting a bit of movement in, with some extra space and fresh air is a wonderful way to ease any sort of stress, including sensory stress. 

Be Flexible With Your Kids. As parents, most of us know that setting too high of expectations for anything can be a recipe for disaster. Remember that this Thanksgiving is just one day out of one year – try to enjoy the moments with your kids and if things don’t go as planned, try to welcome alternate plans.

Boy and Girl wearing city threads sensory friendly comfortable clothing while playing outside on Thanksgiving day.

This time of year can be stressful for everyone, both parents and kids.

Boy and Girl dancing in city threads sensory friendly clothing outdoors

While there is a lot of excitement in the air and sometimes a bit of extra tension, remember to keep in mind the most important aspect of all of these celebrations – spending time together with your family and loved ones.

Written by: City Threads Cofounders Shayna Samuels & Joe Willis, and Kestrel Jenkins, responsibility consultant & host of the Conscious Chatter podcast.