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Carve a Thanksgiving Bond: 9 Tips on How To Cook with Your Kids

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and with it comes the flurry of activities surrounding a holiday built around food. In my opinion, the great appeal of Thanksgiving lies in the traditions each family attaches to it, most often in the form of the menu. If you don’t think we are emotionally invested in our late Thursday in November meals, try innocuously asking a group of people what they serve, who brings what, and the genesis of their recipes. What will most likely be revealed is our deep connection to family, even if we define family as an extended group of friends. What better way to create a bond with your kids than to cook with them on Thanksgiving!

In the category of food, my kids were both born fussy eaters. On a daily basis, this fact zapped my energy to involve them with our meals. Thanksgiving was an exception, and to this day – when they thankfully have acquired a varied and accepting palette – the mutual planning and executing of turkey day sparked a greater enthusiasm for cooking as a family across the calendar year.

The following suggests ways to involve your kids in the Thanksgiving process and build family cooking traditions of your own.

  • Shall We? 1 of 8
    hot-to-cook-with-kids

    Click through for tips on cooking with your kids this Thanksgiving!

  • Plan together 2 of 8
    recipes-thanksgiving

    Involve your kids in every part of the meal process, from planning the menu and collecting recipes, through logistical decisions, such as table layout.

  • Encourage a specialty 3 of 8
    cooking-specialty

    Give your child the responsibility of deciding what they want to prepare. Encourage them to do some research about recipes, and even to experiment with various methods and cooking techniques before the big day.

  • The family who shops together … 4 of 8
    specialty-markets

    While we could all use extra hands carrying shopping bags full of pantry items from a big box supermarket, consider involving your kids with a tradition of local specialty markets. Overall enthusiasm will be much greater when going to a family-owned butcher for freshly ground sausage, or collecting an armful of apples from the local orchard.

  • Involve everyone 5 of 8
    cousins-prepare-place-cards

    There's more to dinner than meal preparation. Setting the table, ironing the tablecloth, and making place cards are just a few of the things that need to be accomplished. Give your kids the task of delegating duties to other young attendees such as cousins and family friends who don't have the benefit of responsibility due to their guest status.

  • Accept their level of expertise 6 of 8
    kid-pumpkin-pie

    Nothing extinguishes enthusiasm faster than the quest for perfection. Understand when you delegate duties such as cleaning the bathroom or chopping the walnuts, you are willing to accept your children's best efforts.

  • Keep things fun 7 of 8
    dancing-chef

    In my house - both the one I came from and the one I created - the cooking doesn't begin until the music is turned on. And up. We prefer Salsa music, but anything we can dance to and sing along with will suffice. Why would a kid ever want to make a tradition of something that feels like a chore?

  • Archive your traditions 8 of 8
    baking-girl

    Whether in photos, on a video, written in a calendar, in emails, or peppering the stories you tell, keep your traditions alive by archiving the memories. Traditions arise from repetition, so count on the collective family memory to keep the things you value alive.

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