Christmas is a time to be together, spending the kind of quality time we sometimes just don’t manage during our busy weeks with those we love and care about the most. One of the experiences we can all share during the festive season is food. Planning it, buying it, preparing it, serving it and lastly, enjoying it. Food brings people together. And at Christmas time especially, it symbolises celebration, love and companionship as well as being conveniently rather delicious.
However, not all the guests at the dinner table might agree. Toddlers can be some of the fussiest eaters, not surprising when you are still sniffing out what you like and what you don’t, as well as trying to exert some control in a life that’s not entirely yours to control just yet. Nevertheless, Christmas time is that time of year when participation in the sharing and enjoying of food is such a central theme, it would be nice if the little ones joined in. just this once.
There are many little tips and tricks we employ throughout these picky stages. Letting children help to prepare food. Displaying it in all kinds of shapes on the plate. Cutting it in ways that are easy for little fingers to grab. And what better time of year to get started with letting your little one help with some food prep. Traditional Christmas dinner is actually pretty great for finger foods. All those vegetables, parsnips, carrots, broccoli and green beans are fantastic for cutting into strips which can be arranged enticingly on the plate.
So how about beginning by letting them help you choose which vegetables to buy. Go along for a festive food shop together and take your time exploring the different kinds of vegetables they might want to see on the table on Christmas Day. Once the food has been chosen, you can help them prepare it by learning how to peel them. Placing your hand over theirs to guide and protect their hands whilst you peel a carrot or parsnip will make them feel involved and hopefully encourage them to eat it too. When the food is cooked and cooled, perhaps they can be ‘in charge’ of putting some of it in the serving bowls and deciding where it goes on the table.
Something else all children will love to help with is baking Christmas cookies, muffins and cakes. Investing in some Christmas themed cookie cutters, muffin cases and tree toppers will be a great way to begin some wonderful Christmas cooking traditions you can all share and enjoy together. Toddlers will love to be a chef for the afternoon, helping to sieve the flour, weigh out the sugar, mix it all up with a wooden spoon. Then they can be artists, and decorate what they’ve made with chocolate buttons, icing and sprinkles. The kitchen will definitely be a mess, but the fun will be remembered for a long while after you’ve cleaned up. Plus, what a confidence boost for small children being able to offer their wares to visitors. It gives them opportunity to experience the warm feeling of giving, of watching someone else enjoy the fruits of their effort.
And most important of all, Christmas cooking with your child will provide you both with the beginnings of some lovely family traditions as well as platefuls of memories.