Are you ready for holiday cooking?
In our family, the excitement of sharing a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal begins long before we bake the bread, carve the turkey, or serve the pumpkin pie. Months before the holidays arrive, we begin visualizing the big event in our minds, making our guest list and checking it twice, and planning a delicious feast that everyone will enjoy!
As a busy mom, sometimes I’m tempted to rush through and do all the prep myself, but I need to remember that part of the planning process includes making sure that my children have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the holiday festivities! Few things can make a child’s face beam more brightly or give them a greater sense of accomplishment than seeing their family and friends enjoy a scrumptious holiday feast and knowing that they played a crucial part in the meal’s success!
We can foster our children’s natural interest in family holiday activities by encouraging them to participate in meal preparation tasks and teaching them basic hospitality skills. A key Bible verse for these times to help them learn the importance of caring for others as the Bible describes is 1 Peter 4:10:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Because we want their time in the kitchen to be a positive experience, we can start kids with simple, age-appropriate tasks, keep things fun yet educational, and assign tasks based on interest and aptitude. Here are a few guidelines that we’ve found helpful:
It’s important to teach kids basic skills like hand washing before handling food and fire safety, but in the process, always provide a safe and supervised work environment for our children.
Three to Five Year Olds can begin to assist with safe, simple tasks where they can begin to develop basic skills, such as washing fruits and vegetables, measuring dry ingredients, cutting soft ingredients with a strong plastic knife, mixing ingredients, tearing herbs and lettuce, squashing fruit, breading and flouring, sieving, kneading, buttering bread, spreading icing, rolling, shaping and cutting dough with appropriate size tools, and picking leaves off of vegetables.
Five to Seven Year Olds are developing their dexterity! As they mature, they can begin to assist you with more advanced skills such as cutting with scissors, learning how to cut with a small knife, learning grating skills, greasing and lining pans, beating and folding eggs, and peeling oranges and hard boiled eggs. They can also begin to fold napkins and help set the table!
Eight to Twelve Year Olds who’ve been assisting in the kitchen are often excited by the opportunity to help plan the family meal and may be ready to make s few simple recipes of their own! Now is the perfect time to show them where you store standard ingredients in the refrigerator and cupboard and to teach them the basic elements of meal planning. You can also teach them how to use more complex tools such as a whisker, a handheld mixer, a peeler and a can opener.
Teenagers can continue to hone their skills as they participate in everyday family and holiday meal planning!
One memorable way to spark your budding chef’s interest in hospitality, entertaining and cooking is to provide them with a special cookbook of their very own! The Berenstain Bears’ Holiday Cookbook – Cub-Friendly Cooking With An Adult is the perfect choice for families because it provides parents and children with over 40 recipes to share throughout the year!
The Berenstain Bears’ Holiday Cookbook offers kid-friendly holiday recipes for year-round occasions including Valentine’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, Fall Festivities, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The book includes many dishes such as Honey Bear’s Favorite Mashed Potatoes and Cornbread With Honey Butter that are likely to become year-round family favorites!
What we love about The Berenstain Bears’ Holiday Cookbook is that it not only helps our kids cultivate basic cooking, decorating and serving skills, but it also provides them with Scriptures that reinforce the reasons why we celebrate these holidays!
Teaching our children the fine art of meal preparation and hospitality is so important that Hebrews 13:2 tells us:
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
By modeling genuine hospitality towards others within our home and inviting our children to be an integral part of the holiday meal preparation from an early age, we not only create many wonderful family memories for our kids, but we also build their confidence and teach them invaluable skills for ministry and life!
Watch the Video for the Berenstain Bears Holiday Cookbook
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How do you encourage your children to show hospitality to others? What recipes do you enjoy making with your children? Please share your ideas in the comments – our readers would love to know your thoughts!