The tradition of making apple turkeys on Thanksgiving has been in my family for as long as I can remember. My mom and her brothers and sisters even made them when they were little! My cousins and I used to have so much fun putting these together and it was pretty neat to see them decorate the table while we ate.
Little did we know that it was a secret weapon that our parents used to keep us kids quiet while we waited for the big meal to be ready… Truthfully, it was genius of them. Give us each a paper plate, put some apples in the middle of the table along with bowls of the decorations, and just let us go to town! Really, we didn’t even need supervision, although my ever vigilant Aunt Margie was never too far away (Be careful with those toothpicks and plastic knives! Here, let me cut that for you!). I love you, Aunt Margie…
It was so cool to see how everyone’s turkeys turned out so differently, even though we all had the same ingredients in front of us. Some were more traditional looking and some could be classified as Picasso-esque for sure! The possibilities are endless, so feel free to buy whatever you think looks fun. We always used to have gumdrops, gumdrop “fruit” slices, colored mini marshmallows, red liquorice and raisins. If you wanted to go super healthy, you could even use all fruit for the decorations instead of the candies. Just use your imagination – maybe even let the kids pick a few items. The only must-haves are red apples and red liquorice. Also, the candy or fruit decorations have to be soft enough to push onto toothpicks. That reminds me – don’t forget the toothpicks!
Here is everything you need to make the one I made. If the table is big, you might want to have multiple bowls of the same candies so that everyone has easy access to all the decorations.
I always start with the “feathers.” I assembled all mine at once so I could vary the color combos (I know, I’m a weirdo), but the kids can make and add one at a time if they want. Make sure you leave a little toothpick sticking out so you can poke them into the apple. I chose to use mini gummy bears for all my feathers, but you can use whatever you want in any combination. When I was little, my favorite was the fruity colored mini marshmallows, but they didn’t have those at my grocery. Boo…
Ooops – I almost forgot! Before adding your feathers, you’ll need to stabilize your turkey body. Turn the apple on its side with the bottom part of the apple facing forward. Use 2 toothpicks as “legs,” one on each side in what is now the front.
I started with 5 feathers in one row.
Then added 4 more staggered in front of the first 5.
After the feathers, I added the wings. The toothpicks were a little long, so I broke a bit off of the end of each one.
Gumdrop fruit slices work really well for this part because they are already sort of wing-shaped. Purple seemed the logical choice for me (what? I like grape!), but use whichever color you like.
Once I got the feathers on there, my turkey started to lean backwards a bit, so I added a random 3rd “leg” to the back. Depending on the shape of your apple and the type of decorations you use, you may not need to do this.
Next, cut a triangle-shaped piece of licorice. This will become the turkey’s “wattle.” I am sure that isn’t the technical term for whatever that red hanging thing on a turkey’s neck really is, but that’s what we always called it, hahaha.
Then, I assembled the head/neck piece. I used a yellow fruit slice for the head and the red licorice piece I just cut underneath as the “waddle.”
Now add your head. Isn’t he cute?!
The kids in your family will love making these – and I’m sure some grown-ups will, too! I hope these are as much for your family as they always were for mine. Who knows? Maybe you will make them a yearly tradition of your own. :-)
For another fun Thanksgiving activity, check out my Turkey Cookies!!!!