At our house, on Thanksgiving, everyone cooks. None of this “I’m going to make you guys a beautiful, delicious meal, and I hope you enjoy it and are impressed with my cooking.” Nuh-uh. We have a loud, crowded kitchen going from about 10am until we eat in the afternoon. It’s messy and chaotic and lots of fun. And everyone has to contribute something.
We’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. My mom made us do it growing up, and now each of us have our “specialties.” In fact, one of the kids is going to have to call my brother for his cranberry sauce recipe here soon so we can get ready.
There are a few things you can do to cut down on the craziness. You can make some of the dishes ahead of time — pies and cranberry sauce will hold up until the next morning. You can have kids do tasks like cutting in the dining room instead — and assign visiting relatives to supervise them. But I get all mushy and super-thankful on Thanksgiving Day when I can look around a full, noisy kitchen and know that these are my people.
Age-Appropriate Kitchen Tasks for Kids:
Toddler/Preschool Aged —
- help measure and pour ingredients into mixing bowls
- push buttons on mixers, food processors, or blenders (trust me. It’s a huge hit.)
- help stir
- help roll out pie crusts
- set the table with silverware, napkins, and other unbreakables
- or just inspect all the vegetables with a magnifying glass:
Early Elementary School (through about 10 years old):
- discuss menu ahead of time, decide what they want to contribute
- check recipes and make a shopping list
- help shop for ingredients, compare prices and decide what to buy
- read recipes, follow simple recipes
- chop veggies with adult supervision
- begin to use stove and oven with adult supervision
Older Elementary School
- plan their dish, write down shopping list
- if you’re comfortable, while shopping let them fill their list on their own and report back to you
- by this age, kids should be able to follow a recipe from start to finish, with an adult nearby to answer any questions
Some Recipe Suggestions for Kids:
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