He serves as my sous-chef while making Thanksgiving side dishes and he’s my right-hand man when baking Christmas cookies.
At seven, he’s been working with me in the kitchen for a long time. But cooking with his cousins – three year-old twins – is a different matter.
Here are some tips I’ve picked up on baking with many small children. I hope they’re helpful to you!
KidCulture Baking Tips
Fun vs. Perfect
You can have fun while baking with small children or you can have perfect cookies. You cannot do both. My advice: embrace the fun and save the perfect for when you’re baking on your own.
Keep it Simple, Sweetie!
Throw those ambitious baking ideas out the window. When you’re surrounded by children, you’ve got to keep it simple. Pick one or two cookies to make and keep an eye on their energy levels. Cut corners whenever possible. I saved time by using cookie mixes to which we just added an egg, a stick of butter, etc.
Even if the kids lose interest during the mixing and baking process, they’ll be back at the end. Trust me, they’ll be brilliant at decorating the finished product!
Have some other activities the kids can work on while you’re focused on getting the cookies out of the oven or after they’ve lost interest in the baking project. Construction paper Christmas cards, holiday-themed coloring books, holiday gratitude chains, these are all great activities the kids can take on while you’re otherwise engaged.
Set the Mood
While you’re working together in the kitchen, put some music on. We listened to the “Polar Express” soundtrack and “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.” When the kids got bored – or were inspired by the music – they danced around the kitchen like joyful elves. And sometimes their oven-mitted aunt joined in, too.
We are sticklers about washing our hands with soap and water before, during, and after our baking projects. I also kept an eagle eye out for runny noses, children licking their fingers, and dough that got dropped on the floor and addressed it immediately. As cute as kids are, they can also be filthy little buggers. And that’s not part of my holiday cookie recipe!
As a veteran holiday baker, those are my suggestions for keeping it clean, keeping it fun, and making it memorable. Happy Holidays!