Emily Buckley, editor in chief
Our family loves to gather in the kitchen, especially during the holiday season, to bake treats and prepare traditional meals saved for just this time of year. These activities create lasting memories and can also be educational, but they can also be stressful for mom and dad. Here are some tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable holiday baking sessions with your little ones:
- Choose Kid-Friendly Recipes Opt for recipes that are simple and kid-friendly. Sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and brownies are great options. Make sure the steps are easy to follow and age-appropriate for your children. I have sometimes taken a shortcut and purchased baked, unfrosted sugar cookies cut into festive shapes from the grocery store so we can go straight to frosting. Another idea is to split the project into two days: roll out, cut, and bake the cookies one day and then frost the next (or freeze the cookies to frost several days later!).
- Plan and Prep Together Involve your kids in the planning and preparation process. Let them help choose the recipes and create a shopping list. When you get home with the ingredients, have them assist in measuring and setting up the baking station.
- Emphasize Safety Safety should always be a top priority. Teach your children the importance of handwashing before and after handling food. Explain how to use kitchen tools safely and supervise them closely when they are using sharp objects or the oven.
- Create a Fun Atmosphere Turn on some holiday music, put on festive aprons, and make the experience joyful. Let your kids be creative with their baking by decorating cookies with colorful sprinkles, icing, and other fun toppings.
- Teach Them the Basics Use baking as a learning opportunity. Teach your children about different ingredients and their functions in recipes. Explain concepts like measuring, mixing, and temperature.
- Foster Independence As your children gain confidence, encourage them to complete more tasks independently. Gradually assign age-appropriate responsibilities, such as cracking eggs, mixing ingredients, or rolling out dough. This will boost their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.
- Patience Is Key Baking with children may take longer than doing it alone, so be patient. Allow for mistakes and messes — it’s all part of the learning process and memory making. Focus on the journey rather than just the result.
- Experiment and Customize Let your kids get creative with their recipes. Encourage them to add their favorite ingredients like chocolate chips, dried fruits, or nuts to the recipes to foster a sense of ownership and excitement.
- Share the Joy Once your holiday treats are baked and ready, share them with friends and family. Baking can be a wonderful way to express your love and appreciation for those you care about.
- Create Lasting Memories Finally, remember that the holiday baking experience is about more than just the delicious goodies you create. It’s about making cherished memories together as a family. Take pictures, talk about where your family’s traditional recipes came from and why they are special to you, and laugh, talk, and dance while you work together in the kitchen.