The festive season is a magical time for kids. Santa is coming with his team of reindeer, the whole family is at home, and you’re even allowed to have chocolate for breakfast if you’re really lucky! As with all things, kids like to feel involved and want to spend time with their parents. The festive season is a great time to take advantage of this by letting the kids help out with the cooking and preparation of simple recipes. The best part is that it helps to take the weight off your shoulders, while also getting the kids to enjoy their special contributions to Christmas.
Let them help with menu planning
The kids are the fussiest customers anyway, so it’s a good idea to make sure they’re happy with the menu before you start cooking! If the kids are involved in helping to pick dishes, they’ll definitely eat everything up…including their vegetables. Talk to your kids about what they would like to eat for their Christmas dinner, whether they want to do two courses or three, if they have a favourite dessert or side dish that they really want to be included. Flip through recipe books or look online with them and encourage them to come to you with ideas of what they might like, then set a day to decide the full menu – with their input, of course! The only rule is that vegetable recipes of some sort must be included alongside all the “yummy bits!”
Give them some fun tasks on the big day
Festive season cooking is always a mad rush, so you need all the help you can get. Ask the kids what they want to do to help get the food ready for everyone, and give them an age-appropriate task. Small kids can top and tail green beans if you give them scissors that aren’t too sharp. They can also mix things together when baking or help season the meat. They’ll love getting their hands dirty with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic! Older kids can measure ingredients out, peel potatoes, chop vegetables and even get involved with the actual cooking. Let them fry onions, make salads, stir sauces, keep an eye on the gravy. Try not to micromanage and allow them to taste, season and test food – they’ll ask for your opinion when they’re not sure, but you’re allowed a quick taste before the food goes to the table, of course.
Remember to thank and praise them
Your kids will only enjoy getting involved in choosing and cooking their favourite dinner recipes if you make it fun and recognise their efforts. When the food tastes good or they’ve done a good job with something, don’t be afraid to tell them that in no uncertain times. Guide them through the process and let them learn and improve their skills, and always thank them for helping out. Moms love it when their kids say thanks for cooking dinner, and kids love it when their moms do the same! This way, your kids will always want to be involved in the kitchen, even in the festive season madness.