As mother to Savannah, age 11, and Alex, age 15, Caprial Pence, chef and owner of Caprial’s Bistro in Portland, Oregon, believes children deserve—and enjoy—festive foods and decorations. Here are her ideas for helping little ones savor the big day.

  • Use nice dinnerware. “Kids’ tables sometimes look like an afterthought,” Pence says. “Dishes are meant to be used.” Pass on paper plates and go for the good stuff: real dishes, cloth napkins, the works.

  • Remember the bubbly. “When adults have champagne or wine, kids can have sparkling cider or flavored seltzer,” she suggests. Garnish glasses with a slice of apple or pear, cut crosswise.

  • Make vegetables they’ll eat. Pence’s kids’ favorite: Fresh green beans blanched and then sautéed with diced, cooked pancetta, a little minced garlic, minced shallot, chopped fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving.