Making a big Thanksgiving dinner can be a daunting task – certain items need to be monitored, and timing needs to be calculated and watched. It becomes even more difficult if you have kids running around distracting you. So put them to work! There are many ways kids can help with Thanksgiving dinner that won’t make you worry about a dish getting ruined or glasses broken.
The Daily Meal offers these seven tips on how to involve children in this annual event in ways that will create fun memories, teach kids about cooking, and most importantly, keep them occupied so you can worry about everything else.
1. Putting Together the Grocery List
Long before actual Thanksgiving Day, have your child help put together the day’s menu and grocery list. This can be an opportunity to convey lessons about budget management, how to put together a meal, and being organized at the grocery store. Kids can also feel really special by picking one special dish for the menu, thus making them a real part of the planning process.
2. Reading Recipes Out Loud
Practice general reading skills by having them read Thanksgiving recipe cards out loud. Not only will this exercise help your kids with their literacy skills, but it will also teach them new vocabulary words related to the world of food and help them understand how to follow directions.
3. Peeling Potatoes or Apples
Though knife skills may be a little too advanced (and dangerous) for the youngest ones, peeling fruits and vegetables is prep task that most kids should be able to handle. And if the potatoes or apples aren’t totally perfect, having a skin or two in your mash or pie won’t offend anyone. Just make sure to teach them proper form and use a kid-safe peeler.
4. Rolling Out Pie Dough
Rolling out dough can be a total blast for kids, as they see a ball of pastry transform into a big, flat circle. Be sure to guide them so you don’t have an uneven mess, but this can be one of the most rewarding tasks for a youngster, who can now brag about making a stunning contribution to dessert.
5. Measuring and Mixing Pie Filling
Slightly older children can measure out ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner. Have them start with adding spices to the pies, which can be more forgiving than, say, pouring too much cream into a batch of mashed potatoes. After they learn how to measure out various ingredients, reward them with the fun task of hand-mixing together peeled apples or that gooey canned pumpkin. Just try not to be jealous.
6. Watching Timers
For children who are old enough to tell time, setting and watching the timers on Thanksgiving can be helpful for both you and them. Not only will having them be the clock-watchers save you a menial task, but it can also teach kids the all-important lesson of patience.
7. Setting the Table
Knowing how to set a formal table is an important part of dining etiquette that often gets forgotten these days. Use the holiday as an excuse to teach your kids about where plate, glass, and piece of silverware goes. A properly set table (especially one done by children) will surely impress the rest of the family.
We wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday!