Candy canes, sugar cookies with icing and all those gorgeous pies… These sweet confections seem to surround us, particularly during the holidays. From cookie decorating parties to school events and other seasonal celebrations, you try so hard to monitor what goes in your child’s tummy, but it’s not always easy. So how do you rein in all of their sugar intake while still letting kids have a ton of fun?
Instead of keeping kids away from all the goodies, get them in on the fun and think outside the usual holiday menu repertoire. Kids love all the junky sweets that come with a holiday celebration, but their bodies still need and crave an array of foods that are good for them, as well as a joy to eat.
If you start to look at cooking as a fun art project instead of just a chore, the entire process becomes a lot more gratifying for kids and they learn what really goes into preparing a recipe. It doesn’t mean they need to prepare the meal from start to finish, but giving them tasks in the kitchen can help in also enjoying the foods on the holiday table. I find that when my kids get involved with making a few of the dishes being prepared for of the holiday meal, they see all the effort that goes into them and will even try things they haven’t before. Last year, my daughter helped me pick through and wash the cranberries for a sauce and before I knew it, she was eating and enjoying the tart little jewels raw! Offering kids age appropriate tasks in the kitchen can be a real bonding moment and even a help to you.
But beyond the big holiday meal itself comes the dreaded dessert table. Allowing kids to enjoy treats during the holidays is what they’re most likely looking forward to, but it’s important to keep it in moderation. With my own kids, I let them know before we get to a party that I want them to have fun and take a peak at all the yummy desserts, but they need to pick one or two treats to enjoy, not the entire plate full! This goes for juice, hot chocolate and other super sweet and sugary beverages, as well.
Here’s a few jobs kids can do:
- Show guests to their seats and take drink orders
- Help prep by setting the table, making place cards, setting up the “kids table”
- Plan a theme
- Open the door
- Interact with the adults
- Pick music (DJ)
- Kids’ bartender
- Pass Hors D’oeuvres (and help making them with their own recipe)
- Draw/design menus
- Decorate stockings
- Thanksgiving cards
- $5 Secret Santa game (open one at a time)
- Cookie decorating
- Strawberry Elves
- Snow flake ornaments
- Find the pickle (like find the afikomen) – winner gets a prize!
Here’s are a few recipes that are super kid friendly, but also balanced choices during the holidays: