During the holiday season life is hectic and it can be easy to ask children to step aside and find something to do while we make holiday recipes and meals. The truth is that children LOVE to be included and truly can help with many things. So, if you are looking for a way to include them, here are a few ideas.
1) Prepare Vegetables. Children can husk corn, pull the ends off of beans, pull romaine lettuce apart, add ingredients to a salad, and wash any vegetable in the sink that you ask them too. Children also have a lot of fun washing potatoes and other vegetables in the sink. And you might be surprised how often they want to try what they have helped prepare… yes, even vegetables!
2) Pour, Mix, and Stir. Children love to combine and mix ingredients together… it is like a craft for them. Try measuring out the ingredients for a recipe and then ask your child to pour them into a bowl and mix everything together. This is great for can sauces, casseroles, cookies, salads, and more. Sometimes they may mix more than needed, but a little extra mixing of mashed potatoes never hurt anyone!
3) Sprinkle. Are you adding grated cheese, hemp hearts, raisins, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, diced apples, nuts, seeds, or coconut to any dishes? If so, this is a really awesome activity for children. It may not seem like much to you, but to them it’s really special!
4) Knead. If you are making any recipes that require kneading or separating of dough, this is a great one for sensory play and development. Children love to explore new textures and get their hands dirty. So, whether it’s gingerbread or your old family Christmas bun recipe, get your kids right in there! Baked goods made with the love of a child’s hands ALWAYS taste better.
5) Pull Apart. If you are making a turkey dinner, you are likely making a bread stuffing (AKA dressing). Children can pull bread apart so easily and will love that they are actually allowed to do so! Once you have a big bowl of cubed bread, this is a great teaching moment as you can show them the other ingredients you add in. Then as children get older, they can help with that part too and eventually can declare that they made the holiday stuffing! This is something my mom has always done a wonderful job of. She let me help out from a very young age and I know my confidence in the kitchen stems from that.
These are just a few ideas for you as you create new memories and traditions with your little ones this holiday season. At the end of it all you will likely feel a touch more frazzled than if you had worked on it alone, but your heart will be much fuller and the memories you make will last much longer than any of the food you bake.