We all now that preparing Christmas dinner can be stressful – getting the timings right, cooking the turkey to perfection and remembering not to leave the stuffing in the oven or the cranberry sauce in the fridge! Throw in hyper children running around with their new presents and it can feel like downright chaos.
Why not get your kids rolling up their selves and helping with preparing Christmas dinner. Use our age appropriate tasks below and this can be a win-win – your kids can learn lots of useful skills, whilst feeling involved and being helpful and you get some much needed help
Ages 5 & Under
Pick Out The Ingredients
Encourage each child to know about the ingredients that go into making a Christmas dinner. Let them pick their favourite vegetables on the plate, and tell them where those vegetables came from (for example, carrots grow underground where only the green leaves can be seen by us).
Make Children Feel Valuable
Don’t give children work that simply keeps them busy. The younger children can mash potatoes, tear lettuce and wash vegetables with a colander at the sink.
Prepare the Table
Planning the meal is not the only way to get children involved in preparation. Ask them to create little name cards for the table or make decorations for the house.
Ages 6 to 9
Try Something Different
Don’t just stick with the normal ingredients. Encourage children to come up with alterations to recipes and use their creativity. Add some nuts to the normal topping of your apple crumble. Add some chestnuts and bacon to your brussel sprouts. Top your mashed potatoes with melted cheese and a smiley face made with carrot sticks.
Ask the children to come up with a Christmas dinner seating plan. Mix it up by having different relatives with different ages sit next to each other. When pudding is ready, get everyone to switch seats.
Make Christmas dinner kebabs with a small piece of turkey, a green bean, pigs in blankets and bread sauce all on a skewer.
Ages 10 to 12
Involve children in the months and weeks leading up to Christmas. Perhaps earlier in the year you have planted some herbs and vegetables that will be perfect additions to Christmas dinner. If you’ve not had the chance to do some gardening, bring your children with you when purchasing the Christmas food at a local farmer’s market.
Have a Treasure Hunt
Place all of the ingredients you need, plus some you don’t on the kitchen counter. Encourage children to read the recipe and gather exactly the right ingredients.
Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be limited to the moment when you all sit down to eat. If they enjoy drama, ask your children to perform the nativity with their own words.
Try Something New
Discover new recipes. Go shopping with your children to pick out some family-friendly recipe books.
Ages 13 & Older:
Let the Children Take Charge
Give them the task of setting the turkey timer and telling you when it’s time for basting. Let them come up with a side dish or supervise the younger children.
Get Down to Business
Inspire your children’s entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging them to plan the Christmas meal as if they owned a catering company. Ask them to think of their own name for their company and pay them with their favourite pudding or a few chocolate coins.
Think Up Themes
Have each child choose a theme for each course. Write down what ingredients to use and how they plan to go about creating their “theme.”
Create a Festive Atmosphere
Ask your child to come up with ideas for music, decorations and colour schemes for the table that create a fun and enjoyable meal.
The possibilities are endless. Taking that extra time to include your children in preparing the Christmas meal will not only make the day that much less stressful but will create memories both you and your children will treasure forever.