As the holiday season gets underway on Long Island, there are many moments that parents treasure with their children. But for most parents there are no sweeter moments than baking holiday treats with their kids.
For many Nassau County and Suffolk County parents, that’s the favorite thing about the holidays, something that’s passed down from grandparent to parent to child when everyone gets together and bakes their favorite family recipes for sweet treats that conjure up warm and cozy memories of holidays past.
With that in mind, Your Local Kids has put together some tips for parents about how to get kids to help in the kitchen through holiday baking and how to start and keep a beloved holiday tradition in their own families.
First, have some kid-friendly recipes on hand and get children’s input about their favorite holiday treats. It’s important to have some recipes that kids can easily learn and eventually bake themselves as they get older.
For example, sugar cookies in different holiday shapes, thumbprint jelly cookies and gingerbread men are great, simple cookies that allow kids to decorate with personal touches. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas for simple recipes, variations and decorations. For help with ideas and resources, parents can also check Your Local Kids’ Long Island Education and Enrichment Guide.
Under the Education and Enrichment Guide parents can look under cooking classes and perhaps plan a trip to a local Nassau or Suffolk class with their little ones to get some holiday baking and cooking tips, recipes and inspiration.
Keep in mind some recipes keep kids more interested than others, and, naturally, when kids can get really hands-on with the baking, they have more fun. So be prepared for a little mess in the kitchen, and remember that’s half the fun when baking with kids.
It’s just as important to get kids involved in choosing what favorite recipes they’d like to help bake. This gets them involved in the process, and they’ll be excited to get to work in the kitchen to help bring these recipes to life.
When choosing baking recipes, be mindful of any allergies your children, and those who might be eating them or receiving them as gifts, might have, and adjust accordingly.
Make a checklist and prepare the baking space. Go over the ingredient lists and kitchen utensils and equipment needed for the chosen recipes, and make sure you have everything before you start.
Go over recipe directions with kids and explain what they don’t understand, including packaging instructions, proper use of utensils, any equipment they might use such as the range, oven, blender or mixer, and proper handling of hot items. And, of course, use your best judgment to decide what tools are age-appropriate.
Also consider creating a separate kids’ section in your kitchen where they can work to give them more ownership in the process. Making a few batches ahead of time that kids could roll out and cut out with cookie cutters and later decorate is also a good idea. And, of course, make sure kids wash their hands well before and after the baking process.
Kids can also help put together tins, baskets or decorated bags filled with their favorite holiday treats they helped bake to give as gifts to teachers and friends, keeping in mind, of course, allergies the recipients might have.
Remember, letting children help in the kitchen is a key part of growing up. It not only teaches them responsibility, accomplishment, patience, attention and community, but it also helps them develop fine motor skills, and eye-hand coordination And it’s something that parents can turn into wonderful memories with their kids that’ll get passed onto their children.