Wednesday, July 17, 2024
The Parents' Voice

Christmas Baking

I think I say this about all of my Christmas articles, but Christmas baking is one of my favourites to write. Every year since before our kids were born I joined a best friend of mine and we baked four recipes and doubled them. We always bring treats to our neighbors and close friends – it’s one of our whole family’s favourite things to do over the Christmas holidays.
I hope some of the following tips provide inspiration and courage to parents with little ones to attempt including them in your baking adventures.
Tips for baking with little helpers:

  • It’s all in the recipe. Choose a “forgiving” recipe, a recipe that isn’t too precise. One easy Christmas idea would be bark (there are a million kinds to choose from). These recipes allow for freedom with ingredients. Children can sprinkle pretzels on the bottom, help melt the chocolate for the top and generously apply M&Ms as decorations over the chocolate. There is no wrong way and however it ends up, it’s delicious. If possible, let your child have a say in what recipe they make. Give them a few choices of possibilities and then let them choose, depending on your child’s age have them help you read through each step. Online recipes with pictures are great for this. These also make for cute presents.
  • If you’re not sure of which recipes to try, put a call out to your friends and family. Go with tried and true recipes. Chances are if someone you know has been successful with the recipe you will be able to do it too.
  • Have the proper ingredients and tools at the ready. Go through your recipe before hand (alone) to see what steps you will need to take, and get everything you will need to use. Some little bakers aren’t that patient when it comes to waiting.
  • Leave the neat freak out of the kitchen and don’t be afraid to get messy or for your workspace to get messy. Kids love being a part of the action but they are not at all careful. They love measuring, dumping, pouring and mixing, let them enjoy being a part of the process and leave yourself a little extra time at the end to sweep or vacuum up the little spills. Don’t forget to include little bakers in this process as well, they are great sweepers and vacuumers and dish dryers.
  • Have simple but important rules for working in the kitchen together. Always wash hands before helping with food prep, in our house they have to wash their hands for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, pay attention when using sharp tools or hot surfaces and follow directions.
  • When I consulted my husband about the most important tip for baking with children, we both agreed it’s hands down having lots of patience. Steps need to be repeated, rules need to be repeated, and praise needs to be given, a lot. So take a few deep breaths and remember that years from now they’ll be telling friends and loved ones how much they enjoyed baking Christmas cookies before Christmas with their parents.
  • One last thing: if you choose recipes that can be personalized like sugar cookies or cupcakes, let them decorate the way they see fit. Put out the decorations and set a few ground rules (i.e. a spoonful of each type of sprinkle) and watch them be artistic. I find it very interesting watching each of my children go about this task differently, it really can tell you a lot about their personality.
  • If you’re planning to gift baked goods, search for cookie tins. From experience you can find them now but not in a few weeks. It also looks so pretty with a Christmas napkin lining the inside. This is truly one of the best little gifts you can make.

This is just one of our favourite things to do during the Christmas season. With less than two and a half weeks to go, try to fit in as many of your favourite holiday traditions as you can.


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