Thanksgiving Countdown: Kids in the kitchen

Growing up my Grandfather would always take all of the kids on a really long walk on Thanksgiving day. It was always a fun adventure but as it turns out there was an alternative motive to this outing. Mom and Grandma would stay behind and have a calm and quiet kitchen to work in and when we got back we would be pretty worn out from the walk and so we would play board games or other quiet games until dinner was ready.

This morning I saw a segment on a morning show about crafts to keep the kids busy - and "out of the kitchen" - on Thanksgiving day.

While we love crafts, and we love a good outing on Thanksgiving morning, we also think kids Should be in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.

Here are some Stayathomemom Tips for Kids in the Kitchen on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about coming together as a family and giving thanks for all of our blessings. Each person in the family is a part of that blessing and brings something to community.


Give each kid their own Apron to make them an official helper. It reinforces that they have an important part in the process.


Teach your kids about the importance of washing their hands before handling food. This is the start of lifelong kitchen habits and so you want to make it easy for them to be able to wash their hands. This may mean getting a step stool so they can reach the kitchen sink easier.


Every kid you can stand up on his own can help out in some way or another. For very young helpers this may mean

  • sitting at the kitchen table and coloring on the paper placemats that will be used for the Thanksgiving table. 
  • "Cleaning" pots and pans - hand them a dish towel and some pans and let them wipe them out.
  • Singing a song to Mom, Dad, Grandma or Grandpa or whoever else is in the kitchen.
As they get a little older put them in charge of stirring the 5 bean salad, fruit salad, or stuffing. As they get even older put them in charge of specific items like the pumpkin pie. If they have a favorite Thanksgiving dish put them on the team making that item.

Young kids can easily "make" the dinner rolls if you make them from the tube that snaps open when you pop it.


Match them up with an older sibling or relative to be a "Sous Chef". All the great chefs in the world have assistants. Everyone has to start somewhere.


Every person in our family has a different "Favorite". Make sure your kids have a say in the Thanksgiving menu. You may think that the menu is pretty standard with Turkey, Stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce but there can be some big variations within even those items. Some kids like whole cranberries and others like the jelly from the can.

Having the kids participate in the kitchen will make Thanksgiving a more meaningful event for them and can create some great memories - even if those memories are of burnt rolls....


Remember it is just as important to include everyone in the cleanup as it is to include them in the prep.


Finally, a tip for Mom. Build in time for this "help" It can often times take a lot longer in the kitchen when little little kids are "helping" but as the years go by they will get better and faster and the entire process will become much quicker.

Just remember to breath. Initially, having little kids in the kitchen will take patience. But you can do it. 

When kids are included in the entire process from the time that they are very young then it is just part of the tradition. If you exclude the kids from the kitchen when they are young and then expect them to start helping out when they are teens you are setting yourself up for some interesting / contentious discussions.



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