Make a pretty plate


Clear glasswareRubbing alcoholPaper scrapsOther embellishments (optional)Foam brushNon-toxic decoupage paste (such as Mod Podge)Tissue paperNon-toxic clear varnish/sealer 

Getting your kids involved in Thanksgiving dinner preparations is a great way to transform a traditional meal into a true family affair. But let’s face it—while some kids will jump at the chance to help mash potatoes, baste the turkey or squirt whipped cream on pumpkin pie, for others, cooking activities are more chore than choice. And no one has time to nag, wheedle, cajole and plead when you’ve got a dozen guests at the door.

Luckily, it’s possible to include the kids in your holiday efforts long before you even make a shopping list. Rather than bringing them in on the actual food preparation, let them help make the table service itself a creative, special affair. Making these colorful, personalized serving platters or plates with your kids involves a process that sounds slightly intimidating—decoupage—but that’s really just a fancy word for collage. In reality it’s both quite simple and fun.

Gather your supplies. You can find affordable clear glassware—plates, platters, bowls, etc.—from a second-hand store. A craft store should carry everything else.

Cover your workspace with wax paper.

Clean the glass (either by hand or in the dishwasher). Rubbing alcohol will remove any price sticker goo.

Choose a design. Peruse old magazines or your own art-supply stash for interesting images, glitter, pressed flowers, feathers—just about anything flat will do. Practice arranging the images in the way you want them to appear on the plate.

Make the plates. First, turn the plate upside down. This is crucial—all the pasting and varnishing occurs on the back of the plate. That leaves the front free to hold dinner rolls, sweet potatoes or Grandma’s green bean casserole. Using a foam brush, spread decoupage paste onto the back of the plate and place the pictures, paper scraps or other materials face down (so that when you flip the plate right side up, you’ll see the correct side of the picture). When finished layering and arranging your items, spread another layer of paste over the whole back side of the plate. Lay a sheet of tissue paper on top of the paste; this will be the background. Any color will do; glittery or patterned tissue paper is especially fun. Gently spread another layer of paste over the tissue paper. Allow to dry completely (24 to 48 hours). When dry, cover the tissue paper with several layers of clear varnish or sealer, allowing time to dry in between each layer. Gently hand wash the plates before and after each use.

Dinner is served!

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