As parents, we want to keep the wonder and excitement of the holidays alive for our children as long as we can because they are only small for such a short time. One way to carry on the special feelings of the holiday season is to have your children help in the planning of the meal and activities. Even better is to help your kids learn while they are young how to plan with healthy foods and crafts that are fun. Here are some ideas for ways your children can help with the meal preparations to make your Thanksgiving or Christmas filled with fun.


Planning the Menu

Sit down and ask them to help decide what healthy sides you will make for the meal (and of course let them also choose at least one dessert or treat to serve because it is a special occasion). Let them write the menu down on paper; it is okay if they cannot write the words themselves simply give them a pad and paper and they will write their words on their paper as you write yours. Are they just learning to read and write? Help them sound out some of the words and for the more difficult ones assist them to spell it out.

Writing the Menu

It is fun to have your menu written out on a beautiful piece of paper and posted for your guests to see what wonderful goodies they will be enjoying. For the “pretty” paper have your kids color on the bottom of a piece of construction paper, pumpkins, fall colors, whatever the two of you decide and then write the menu out on the top portion of the art. Or, you can go to your local craft store and purchase some scrapbooking paper with holiday themed pictures in the background and have your child write the menu on it.  Whichever art choice you go with, have your little artist sign their work, and you have a memory to put straight into your scrapbook when dinner is all through.

Making a Shopping List

Once you and your kiddos have decided on what you are serving, have them help with the shopping list. Make a game out of how to categorize the recipe ingredients, which foods are vegetables? Which foods are fruits? Grains? Meats? etc . Let the kids shop first in your pantry and then if you’re feeling adventurous set a shopping date and let your little chef help you shop. Make sure you set a good amount of time so that you don’t have to stress or hurry. Remember, they are only little for a while; you’ll be glad that you took the time to make these memories! Looking for coupons for your ingredients can be a great exercise for older kids as well.

Preparing the Food

The day before your big meal, decide on some of the make-ahead recipes that your child can help with. Even small children can help with measuring and stirring; give them jobs according to their age and ability level. Letting them help with the “make ahead” meals will give you some precious time together without stress.


Decorating the Table

Another project that works for the days before the big meal is the decorations. Look at Pinterest or other websites with your kids that have pictures and ideas for your table.  Make it fun and funky, or colorful and sassy, whatever suits your family’s style.

Helping with Clean Up

Let them help with clean up. This is a great time to let your child help with clean up, even if it is only clearing the table or taking out the trash.  Once again, use their age and abilities to guide which jobs your child can help with.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!