Thanksgiving is all about family, right? But it can also be a lot of work, especially if there’s hosting of any kind happening at your house. And, sometimes it can be daunting to determine ways to include children in the holiday prep without completely derailing the process.
However, giving your kids meaningful jobs to do as you prepare for a holiday celebration makes them more invested in the season, and helps accentuate their important role as members of the family. You may need a little extra patience (yes – including the kiddos means the job will probably take longer), but it will be worth getting them involved.
Below, you’ll find 6 ideas for including your child in this year’s Thanksgiving prep:
1. Create a game plan together
Unless you involve them, children typically don’t understand all the steps involved in preparing for a big meal or event. Give them a peek into this process by having them sit with you while you brainstorm the menu, put together the shopping list, go to the store, etc. Ask them for their suggestions and, when they have good ones, try to incorporate them.
2. Make them a sous chef
Consider which menu item – or portion of one – you can pass along to your child to either make unsupervised or to take the lead on. This will be a fun bonding experience, and help ignite their interest in the process of cooking a meal.
3. Assign them a decorating task
They can make place cards, create centerpiece items or even make placemats for each guest. Have them help set the table, too — or maybe just the silverware and napkins, if you feel more comfortable with them managing those pieces.
4. Let them act as the host
This is an important skill to learn, so why not start this holiday season? Give your kids a quick lesson in how to welcome guests, and let them answer the door if you’re hosting an event. You can even have them practice skills like introducing guests to one another and taking coats and purses to put away.
5. Teach them the importance of clean-up
Everyone eats, so everyone can help with clean-up, too. Have your children take a clean-up shift, whether it’s helping to clear plates or dry dishes — whatever age-appropriate task you’d like them to help with.
6. Offer encouragement along the way
Let your kids know you appreciate their help and their opinions, and do what you can to boost their confidence when they start to get discouraged with a task.
photo credit: Brooke Lark