The Pitfalls and Joys of Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner With Kids

Preparing a big holiday meal is a wonderful opportunity to get the kids involved with food.  In order to do this, you must (and I do mean must) get in the right frame of mind: take a deep breath, perhaps have a glass of wine off to the side, prepare to make a few culinary compromises, and . . . get ready for a mess!


Admittedly, there are potential pitfalls here. First, when you and your kids are finished, the mess will be at least ten times what it would be without their help.  

Secondly, you may need to compromise a bit.  If you make your kids do everything exactly the way you want, it won't be fun for them.  And if it's not at all fun for them, then what's the point of having them participate?  Give your kids a project or two that they can call their own — one you won't mind being altered!  Having your kids "own" part of the process is really important and will help build confidence!  Kids feel so proud when they've completed something from start to finish on their own.  Pitfalls aside, there are some joys in including your kids.

I absolutely love getting my kids in the kitchen!  It's so wonderful to watch them learn about food.  They will definitely gain a greater appreciation for what's put in front of them at meal times.

The best part about having kids help with Thanksgiving dinner is that they will have fun!  In a way, cooking is sort of like an art project.  Kids can get out their supplies (food and cooking tools), create something, admire their results, and watch others enjoy!  

Also, there's always love in the kitchen.  After all, feeding people is caring for them.  Let your kids help feel a part of this for friends and family on Thanksgiving!

A few ideas for kids in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. . . .

  •  Tearing bread into small pieces for stuffing.
  •  Mixing or stirring.
  • Peeling and separating oranges or tangerines to add to your cranberry sauce.  This is an easy job that will make kids feel they've really been a part of creating something.
  •  Helping with the basting brush or baster. Kids get to squirt!  Easy and fun — as long as everybody is careful around the heat!
  • Reading the therometer in the turkey.  This helps your kids develop math skills and learn about temperature changes.  (Internal temperature should be about 155 degrees Fahrenheit when the turkey is removed from the oven.)
  •  Helping set out all the ingredients and measuring.  For younger kids, set up all the ingredients, already measured out, for a recipe and instruct them on what to do as they go!
  •  Drawing and art!  Set the kids up with construction paper and crayons or markers.  They can make the place cards!  If you're kids aren't writing yet, you can write the names, and they can decorate them!  Thanksgiving art is fun and sure to be appreciated!

In case you haven't already guessed, I believe the joys outweigh the pitfalls!  Have fun with your kids this Thanksgiving!