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Set sail for Thanksgiving fun

Mon., Nov. 9, 2009

Colorful party favors have room aboard for a caring holiday message.King Features (King Features / The Spokesman-Review)
Colorful party favors have room aboard for a caring holiday message.King Features (King Features / The Spokesman-Review)

Let the children in your house help prepare for your Thanksgiving gathering by making pilgrim ship table favors from walnut shells.

As guests arrive at your home on Thanksgiving Day, they can write tiny notes that show appreciation for people present at the gathering and tuck them into the ships for all to read when seated at the table.

Here the stuff you’ll need:

•Fresh walnuts in the shell (enough for each guest to have a half)



•White household glue, glue gun or modeling clay

•Construction paper for the sails

•Plain-white or colored paper, cut into 1-inch-by-2-inch pieces


•Pens and pencils

Here’s the fun in three easy steps:

1. Crack the fresh walnuts to get two perfect halves, pick out the nuts for a yummy and healthy snack, and then use the shells to create the pilgrim ship place cards for your Thanksgiving table.

2. Next, cut the construction paper into 11/2-inch triangular or rectangular pieces to create sails for the miniature ships, and write the name of a guest or family member on each one.

3. Thread a toothpick through each “sail,” and then poke the toothpick into the empty center of a walnut-shell half. Add a drop of glue, use a glue gun or secure the toothpick in place with a small wad of modeling clay.

Make a ship for each person who will be dining with you, and place it beside the appropriate plate at your table on Thanksgiving Day.

As guests arrive, your kids may give each person several small paper squares and a pen. Invite everyone to write short Thanksgiving statements showing appreciation for people present at the gathering.

Roll the papers into tight scrolls and place them in the ship where the person who will be receiving the note will be sitting.

As the meal begins, listen as everyone at the table shares the kind messages tucked in their ships.

Extra tip: Purchase plenty of fresh walnuts and keep them in a bowl with a nutcracker. Crack them open now and then, and set aside the contents for a healthy fall salad, or add to the turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving Day.

Donna Erickson is the author of several books about family activities and host of a public television series. See more at

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