Personalized puzzles for pre-turkey patience

Savvy restaurant servers know the first task when waiting on customers with kids is to provide puzzles or coloring pages for entertaining the little ones while they wait for their food.

Savvy grandmothers and others can follow the same tack this Thanksgiving by providing personalized puzzles to pint-sized guests gathered at the table, awaiting their turkey and trimmings.

The personalized part makes pre-turkey puzzles more fun — and it's so easily done.

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A while back, I discovered the free Puzzlemaker at Discovery Education. It has ten puzzle templates that take mere minutes to create and print. The steps are simple: Choose a puzzle type, add the dimensions you'd like, the words you want, and voila! A personalized puzzle!

I created a word search puzzle titled Thanksgiving with Gramma and PawDad, added 40 words related to my family and the holiday — everyone's names, our traditional foods served, plus more that typically makes up our Turkey Day — and in seconds, seriously, the puzzle was done and ready to print. 

 I found that for the word search puzzle, choosing a puzzle dimension of 40 lines across and 25 down creates a one-page puzzle for easy printing. (These images do not get larger if clicked because they're just personalized examples.)

I found that for the word search puzzle, choosing a puzzle dimension of 40 lines across and 25 down creates a one-page puzzle for easy printing. (These images do not get larger if clicked because they're just personalized examples.)

There's even automatically a solution page for those who need hints.

puzzle 1 solution.JPG

I also made a "Double Puzzle" in which words are unscrambled and certain letters are used to solve a phrase at the bottom of the puzzle. I titled it Turkey Time 2017, used all the same words I did for the word search, and chose as the final phrase "Thanksgiving with Gramma and PawDad." 

thanksgiving puzzle 2.JPG

While seated at the dinner table, grandkids can compete against one another to see who finishes the puzzle first. Families with numerous grands could even create teams. Whether solved solo or as a team, the puzzles help with pre-turkey patience and keeping the holiday hangry at bay.

Grandmas need not do all the puzzle work, either! As with assisting with meal prep, kids can help with puzzle prep, too. Older grands could likely create the puzzles on their own, printing enough for all the kiddo guests. Younger grands can help pass out the pages and pencils on the big day.

Bonus: Just as thanks can — and should — be given on days other than Thanksgiving, personalized puzzles can be made any ol' day, too. 

Today's question:

How do you keep pint-sized guests patient at the holiday dinner table?