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Here are my eight tips for holiday baking with kids. And first, please have fun. You are introducing your children to one of the pillars of celebration all over the world – preparing special food. Roll up your sleeves and embrace the sugary, messy process.
Tips for baking with kids
1. Tell stories
If you pulled out a recipe from deep in the family archives, now is the time to tell the story behind it. Get out the heirloom cookie cutters, the handwritten recipe card, and maybe even a picture of the person who wrote it. Tell your kids why you love baking during the holidays.
2. Invent new traditions
So, maybe you didn’t grow up pressing spritz cookies into wreath and tree shapes or baking gingerbread houses? Who cares? Create a new family holiday baking tradition with your kids by copying a bakery favorite or finding cookie cutters in the shape of their favorite animal. Having fun and bonding is the point.
If you’re looking for something new, Dorie Greenspan suggests anything they can roll into a ball or smoosh with a fork – like peanut butter cookies – is great. Or thumbprint cookies because “nothing is cuter than a little kid’s thumbprint.”
3. Set your baking space up for success
For baking, create kid-friendly stations by making room on your counters and finding a step stool or a safe chair so small ones can easily reach the counter. Using the kitchen table or a play table might be the best option for some activities, like decorating cookies. I have lots of tips about cooking with kids here.
4. Pick your equipment
Select from the most child friendly of your cooking tools. There is no need to buy new stuff, but think about existing gear that will be easy and fun for your kids to use – smaller spoons, lighter bowls, or a plastic squeeze bottle full of frosting to decorate cookies . A dishtowel tied around the waist or neck is a very effective child’s apron.
5. Choose age-appropriate tasks for each kid
As I described in the Cooking with Kids post, choosing age-appropriate duties helps everyone. An infant can listen to you describe goodies, a one or two-year-old can dump pre-measured ingredients into a mixing bowl. Older kids can read recipes aloud to each other, measure ingredients, cut out cookies, and much more.
6. Simplify for sanity
Holiday baking with kids is not a Food Network competition. Not up to cutting out sugar cookies or building a gingerbread house? Freeze cookie dough in a log for slice and bake cookies and throw colored sugar on those. Or dip pretzels in melted chocolate. Also, this is not a marathon. Make dough one day. Bake and decorate the next.
7. Expect a mess and help cleaning
Sprinkles are the glitter of cooking and messiness will happen, but you can also expect your kids to help you clean up, even if just means placing a dirty bowl in the dishwasher or wiping down the counter.
8. Share the sweetness
In the spirit of the holidays, share what and where you can. Kids can package treats and gift them to a sibling or other close family member who wasn’t involved in cooking.
Recipes to bake with your kids
- Ginger Snap Cookies
- Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
- Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan Sugar Cookies
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Date Cookies
- Almond Joy Cookies
If you find these tips for holiday baking with kids helpful, I’d love to hear from you! And if you snapped some shots of any of these tips and tricks or the fun treats you’re making, please share them with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!