Holiday Dinner Prep for Kids

Holiday Dinner Prep for Kids

Try bonding with your little ones by asking them to help out in the kitchen.


Spend Time Together
The holidays can be stressful with all of the nonstop planning, prepping, hosting, decorating, buying and baking. This holiday season, take a little pressure off and bond with your little ones by asking them to help out in the kitchen.

"Cooking with your kids encourages the value of spending time together as a family," says Anita Laginess, the mom-power behind Dei Fratelli, a fourth-generation, family-owned tomato company. "Even the messes both of you make will have you giggling." Not to mention, little helping hands in the kitchen provide great company and get the job done faster.

Plan Together
Before you even step foot in the kitchen, involve your children in a bit of holiday meal planning. "Create a list of ingredients together and take them along to the grocery store," suggests Laginess. "As you're picking out ingredients, take the time to talk about nutritious ingredients in each dish and why eating healthy is important."

Cut and Prep
Depending on the age of your children, consider giving them knife privileges. For older kids, have them peel and dice potatoes, slice veggies, and cut and wash fruit. If your children are younger, have them "cut up soft ingredients such as chilled butter or cheese with a butter knife," says Laginess. "Tasks like this will make them feel like they're playing an important part in the preparation of your [holiday] meal."

Taste Test
Sampling your dishes as you prepare them is one of the best aspects of holiday cooking. Rachel Willen, a New York City-based chef and mom who founded Food Fix Kitchen, suggests engaging your children in this process by asking them questions. For example, "More salt? Too sweet? Does it need a kick?" These tastings and questions can help them develop their palate and learn what they like and what makes food better," she explains.

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Measure Ingredients
Measuring ingredients is simple enough, but it's one of the most important parts of cooking and baking, says Laginess. "Teach them why being careful and taking your time to measure things accurately is important if you want the dish to come out tasty and delicious," she says. Another great benefit to having your kids measure ingredients is that it teaches them math skills, Laginess adds.

Keep Your Station Clean
"Keeping a clean work station is part of the process," says Willen. "Include kids in the cleanup process, or at least have them take care of the tools they use. They may think being a chef is glamorous, but there is the reality of the dirty work, too." Willen says that showing kids how to properly clean or disinfect something will make them neater, safer cooks in the future. It also helps out Mom and Dad in a major way.

MORE: How to Start a Holiday Tradition

MORE: Why we Indulge Our Kids on the Holidays

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