Make sweet and special memories with your kids in the kitchen this holiday season with these great tips for making it as smooth and stressless as possible. Plus, over 50 fun & festive recipes to make with them!
Happy Holidays! I’m so excited to share some of my favorite ways to get in the kitchen with my kids during the holidays. The joy it brings to them is so worth the stress, mess and inevitable sugar highs that come along with letting your kids have a little freedom & fun in the kitchen.
Let’s start with some tips that will hopefully help make it as smooth and stress-free as possible for you and your kiddos:
- Plan Ahead: make sure you have everything you’ll need. Set up as much as possible before the kids join you in the kitchen. The kids will be excited and ready to get started the moment they join you in the kitchen, so the more organized you are, the less stressful it is getting started.
- Equip the Kids: give each kid what they’ll need to help or at least feel like they’re helping. I like putting a plate or rimmed baking tray in front of each kid and will usually pre-portion the supplies so each kid has some frosting, sprinkles, etc. right in front of them, that way they’re not stealing from each other or having to reach across a big island or table to get what they need. My kids love wearing their own aprons and having their own spatula, measuring cup, etc. They also have their own little step stools that bring them up to counter height at our island.
- Focus on Few Recipes/Projects For The Season: don’t try to do it all! It’s not possible and attempting to do every idea you see, will just overwhelm you and take the specialness out of it for the kids. I like to choose 2-3 recipes or projects that I definitely want to do with the kids in the kitchen that season. And I”ll have the kids help pick out at least one of them so they feel even more involved in the process.
- Set a Date & Time: pick a few days and times throughout the holiday season that you’ll dedicate to spending time in the kitchen with the kids. Put it on your calendar so you can prepare, but don’t tell the kids until closer to time just in case your plans fall through so you don’t disappoint their excitement and anticipation.
- Expect the Mess: it will get messy! There’s just no way around it unless you don’t let them really help. Try to plan for the days before you (or someone else) cleans your house. You’ll be way less stressed about the mess when you know you’re planning to clean anyway. And let them help clean up if you still have a little patience left in you at the end! 😉
- Keep it Simple & Age Appropriate: choose recipes and activities that are easy for the age of your kiddos. The younger the kids, the fewer the ingredients and the less time required is the way to go. If you have older kids, try to choose a recipe that they can take full ownership for. The sense of accomplishment and pride they will have is priceless.
- Allow Plenty of Time: you don’t want to feel rushed. You might even need to work in stages depending on the recipe/project and your child’s attention span and/or behavior. They will need potty breaks, maybe a few timeouts, the recipe might need to cool or set, etc.
- Give Up a Little Control: let them have as much freedom to feel like they’re really contributing and can take ownership for all or some of the end result. Letting them work independently even if that means pouring half a container of sprinkles on one cookie is something they will remember and cherish forever. Pro Tip: buy the cheapest sprinkles! 😉
- Make it Special: make a big deal out of them helping you so they know what a privilege it is. You want them to feel welcome and comfortable rather than like they’re intruding.
- Take A Few Pics: you’ll cherish these chaotic memories one day and be so glad you took the effort to spend quality time with your kiddos in the kitchen so snap a few pics to look back on.
Here are over 50 of our favorite Holiday recipes and kitchen activities from several great sources! From decorating cookies and gingerbread houses to making treats for neighbors and ornaments for the tree, there’s sure to be some great memories ahead for you and your kids this holiday season!
Decorate Sugar Cookies:
Easy No-Chill Cut-Out Sugar Cookies from The BakerMama
Chocolate Sugar Cookies from The BakerMama
Decorate Gingerbread Men Cookies:
Gingerbread Men Cookies from The BakerMama
Build a Gingerbread House:
Easy Gingerbread House Tutorial from Cooking With My Kid
Gingerbread House Decorating Playdate from That Mommy Blog
Favorite Festive Treats:
Reindeer Donuts from Love From The Oven
Christmas Muddy Buddies from Plain Chicken
Homemade Christmas Gumdrops from Mom on Timeout
Oreo Ornaments from Miss Candiquik
Ornament Brownie Balls from The BakerMama
Reindeer Cupcakes from Your Cup of Cake
Christmas Crunch Mix from The BakerMama
Santa Oreo Cookie Balls from ShugarySweets
Santa Claus Peanut Butter Cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Santa Strawberries from Leanne Bakes
Santa Hat Party Mix from Cookies & Cups
Easy Santa Claus Cupcakes from La Jolla Mom
Santa Grahams from Pillsbury
Do you want to build a Snowman?
Snowman Donuts from Love From The Oven
Snowman Pancakes from Lil’ Luna
Melted Snowman S’mores from Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons
Powdered Donut Snowmen from Worth Pinning
Donut Hole Snowmen from Let’s Dish
Marshmallow Snowman from It’s Always Autumn
Candy Cane Snowman from Baby Gizmo
Peppermint Kiss Sugar Cookies from The Recipe Critic
Sleigh Mix Cookies from The BakerMama
Candy Cane Cookies from The BakerMama
No-Bake Holly Cookies from Recipe Girl
4-Ingredient Christmas Cookies from Your Cup of Cake
Peppermint White Chocolate Pudding Cookies from The BakerMama
Cookie Exchange & Decorating Party from Hostess with the Mostess
Edible Christmas Tree Decorating:
Christmas Tree Cones from The Frugal Girls
Christmas Tree Cone Decorating from Fantastic Fun and Learning
Decorate a Christmas Tree Shaped Cake from B-Inspired Mama
Brownie Christmas Trees from One Little Project at a Time
DIY Gumdrop Tree from Redhead Can Decorate
No Cook Cinnamon Ornaments from Growing a Jeweled Rose
Easy 3-Ingredient Cinnamon Ornaments from The Kitchen is My Playground
Melted Candy Peppermint Ornaments from One Little Project at a Time
DIY Handprint Ornaments from The Snap Mom
Gumdrop Ornaments from Dream a Little Bigger
The Christmas Meaning:
The Happy Birthday Jesus Cake from Happy Home Fairy
Jolly Jars by The BakerMama
Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies in a Jar by The BakerMama
Festive Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks from The Everyday Home
Christmas Blessing Mix from Caramel Potatoes
Candy Cane Marshmallows from Mom Foodie
Candy Coated Marshmallow Pops from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Easy Homemade Playdough for Christmas in 5 Minutes from Living Well Mom
Make Your Own Play Snow from Savvy Sassy Moms
Here to the memories and the mess! It’s so worth it. Enjoy & cherish every moment. Happy Holidays!