There’s no need to add to your headaches when you already have a 20-pound turkey to cook and relatives to entertain. So rather than trying to tackle it all yourself while the kiddos run wild, why not employ those little pilgrims in the kitchen? By giving them a recipe or two that they can be in charge of, it will keep the kids occupied, teach them responsibility, and scrape some work off your plate. (They’ll probably have fun playing chef, too!) That’s a win-win in any parenting book.
Here are five foolproof appetizers and desserts that will put those little hands to good use … without giving you an extra mess to mop up.
1. Cranberry rolls
This tasty recipe only requires two ingredients and will take a mere 15 minutes! Ask your little darling to pop open a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (every kid loves when that spiral can springs open) and hand them an open can of cranberry sauce. Spreading the sauce is easy even for young clumsy hands, and kids will have fun rolling the croissant dough up. Plus, kids are more likely to want to help with a food that actually looks tasty to them. But better still clean-up here will be minimal — just a cookie sheet and some cranberry on the counter at most.
Ages: 7 and up
2. Winter fruit salad
Show your child firsthand how incorporating fruit into meals doesn’t have to be an ordeal. This winter fruit salad is not only nutritious and yummy, it’s beautiful, too. What a punch of color for quick snacking or wrapping up Thanksgiving dinner with a light dessert. The lemon poppy seed dressing may very well become a new favorite in your family.
Ages: Tweens and up (You need to trust your kid with a knife to cut the fruit. If not, pre-cut it for them to mix)
3. Chipotle corn salad
How about adding some spice to your Thanksgiving meal? If your kid can’t get enough of Taco Night (and, really, isn’t that every child?), making this recipe will have them thinking they’re getting away with something. But the Tex-Mex influence here is fresh and rich in nutrients, not to mention a rich complement to Thanksgiving’s many sweet, starchy flavors. All things Mom wants to hear! The good news is that even a child’s less than meticulous mincing technique here will have no effect on this salad’s taste factor.
Ages: Tweens and up (another one that calls for trusting your kid with a knife)
4. No-bake cranberry fluff pie
There’s a reason Easy-Bake ovens are popular among kids; playing baker makes them feel grown up, like master chefs. But with this recipe, your child will have a chance to make a pie without ever touching a big, scary oven. (We mean scary for you. What parent hasn’t had that nightmare where your kid burns down the kitchen?) This zesty pie is less sweet than it looks, but your bitty baker can add more sugar without ruining the recipe.
Ages: 10 and up
5. Chocolate acorns
It’s not the holidays unless you can indulge your sweet tooth just a little. These bite-size chocolate acorns look so festive, will feed a crowd, and taste like, well, chocolate. And these melt-in-your-mouth delights are also incredibly easy to make, even for your younger kids. The hardest part here will be not eating them all before they reach the table.
Ages: 6 and up (just don’t let them inhale all the Hershey’s Kisses!)