The holidays are a time for friends and families to gather and celebrate life and the people and things for which we are thankful. Most holiday get-togethers involve one person in the kitchen for hours to prepare the feast for the day, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The entire family can get together to help prepare for the family meal. In doing so, there will be greater enjoyment and satisfaction in the meal and children may be more willing to try new foods they helped prepare.
So how can this be done without flour or gravy covering the walls and ensuring everyone enjoys the feast?
Start with a plan
To help lessen your work load, plan what tasks your children can help with based on their age. Take biscuits or rolls, for example. It doesn’t matter if you make them from scratch or buy them already prepared – children can place the rolls onto the baking sheet prior to being placed in the oven or move the warm rolls into the bread basket. If making your own rolls, they can help prepare the dough or use a biscuit cutter to slice the rolls. If making fresh dressing or stuffing, they can help tear the bread and stir the ingredients together. If using pre-prepared dressing or stuffing, they can help pick out which type from the grocery and stir the ingredients together once home. Older children may also be able to help measure ingredients or chop vegetables.
Another task children can help with in the Thanksgiving meal is setting the table. This will keep them busy and help them learn proper place settings as well as get them involved in the meal planning process. If unable to carry plates to the table, you can always place the plates in each position while your children place napkins and silverware on the table. Or have the little ones decorate the table with Thanksgiving themed arts and crafts.
Walk it off as family
After all is said and done, the family can clear the table together to speed up the cleaning process. A walk around the block as a family is a good way to prevent the inevitable “food coma” after consuming large amounts of calories in a short time as well as providing family bonding. Other post meal activities, like tossing or kicking a ball or playing hide and seek, are also great ways to get up and moving together.
However your meal comes together, ensure there are food options for all of your friends and family and enjoy yourself. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
How do you plan to involve your family in the holiday preparation this year?
This article was written by Ellen Sviland, MS, RD, CNSD, LD, a pediatric dietitian from Washington, DC. She balances her daily hospital work life with cooking (her favorite is baking desserts) and with a part-time job counseling patients.
Check out more resources from Together Counts™ on family meals: