Remember how when you were a kid, everything in the kitchen was so amazing during the holiday season? Why not bring a bit of that baking magic to your little ones this year? Not only are these projects fun — and tasty — but they might just help you start a new holiday tradition for your whole family.
Does the holiday season inspire you to dust off the cake pans, fire up the oven and create something incredible? Whether you are an avid baker or just learning, the holidays are a great time to try your hand at some seasonal treats — and get your kids in on the action. And even if the simple thought of having miniature “helpers” in your kitchen makes you want to stick to cookies from the grocery store, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Game plan for baking
One of the biggest potential problems with holiday baking is the mess. Even if you didn’t encourage your little ones to help you, there would still be a messy kitchen to clean up. Before you roll up your sleeves and start measuring, it helps to have a game plan.
- Choose recipes that are simple and can be completed easily. Multiple steps may be too difficult for the youngest kids, who like to see (and eat!) their results within hours, not days.
- Read each recipe and decide ahead of time which tasks are best for which kids — especially if you are working with multiple age ranges.
- Prepare your work area ahead of time. Gather all measuring utensils and bowls, ingredients, a step stool (if needed for little ones), a timer, baking pans and cooling racks. It may seem like overkill, but short attention spans are likely to get lost in the search for ingredients and bowls.
To make holiday baking fun, pick the right tasks and recipes for every age group.
Toddlers and preschoolers
Have you ever met a toddler who didn’t love a cookie? Even those who have food sensitivities or allergies love a sweet treat made just for them. Tasks that work for this age group are as follows:
- Measuring larger non-liquid ingredients like chocolate chips
- Pouring liquids into the batter from small measuring cups
- Decorating cookies or gingerbread houses (with help)
When your kids are a little bit older, you can really ramp up their involvement in baking holiday treats. They are likely to be caught up in the holiday excitement, and baking just adds to the fun. Kids this age are good at the following tasks:
- Reading measurements from the recipe
- Measuring dry items (flour, sugar, salt etc.)
- Using a stand mixer
- Adding sprinkles to cookies or cupcakes that are already frosted
- Tasty Trees
- Shortbread Cookies
- Sugar Cookies
Not only do tweens love special holiday treats, but they love feeling like they have important responsibilities in the kitchen that their younger siblings don’t have yet. Tweens would be good at the following tasks:
- Reading all instructions from the recipe
- Measuring all ingredients
- Mixing with a hand mixer
- Removing items from the oven (with supervision)
- Frosting cookies or cupcakes
- Decorating cookies with a piped icing bag
- Candy-Cane Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookie Trees
- Holiday Wreaths
By the time your kids are teens, they are usually quite handy in the kitchen — if you can get them out of bed, that is. Teens may prefer to choose the holiday recipes they would like to make, or you could narrow it down to a few options and then let them choose. They should be able to run an entire recipe from start to finish, but they may want you to be available for any questions. Let them invite a few friends over for a holiday baking session, and then feel your heart swell (from the other room) at the sounds of them having a blast.
Try these recipes: