One of the first signs that the Christmas season has arrived at our home is the smell of freshly baked treats in the air. Cooking and baking are both a big part of our family time all year, but even more so at the holidays. From homemade hot cocoa, to freshly baked pies, you are sure to find the comforts and smells of family time in our kitchen each December.
Sometimes, parents can find it overwhelming to integrate your kids into the process of cooking. I used to be this mom, but now I say, embrace the mess! Learning is messy, but also so memorable. Kitchens are easy to clean, but little ones are only little for a short time.
Plan a Family Baking Day for the Holiday
Are you ready to get started? Planning a family baking day is easy to do. My husband and kids typically start submitting requests around Thanksgiving for our big Christmas baking day, and we narrow it down to a few favorites. I try to simplify my life by picking things that have overlapping ingredients—less to buy and easier to reuse bowls when cooking, a win-win!
After you gather your materials, pop on your favorite Christmas movie, or Christmas music if you prefer, and use this time to push the pause button on life.
Slow down, and let your kids help with whatever tasks they can reasonably do, which will vary greatly by age. My youngest is one, but great at helping with the most basic tasks such as grabbing mommy a spoon or a plastic bowl. My oldest is thirteen and able to mix ingredients, use the stove and oven, and prepare basic recipes with no assistance.
Wherever your kids fall developmentally, involve them however you can! It gives them a sense of ownership, responsibility, and value. Nothing brings a bigger smile to their faces, then eating a treat that they helped make. Cooking is such a great self-esteem booster, as well as an opportunity to teach valuable life skills, including washing the dishes of course!
Looking for some ideas to get started? Here are 10 fun treats to do at home together:
10 Fun & Easy Holiday Treats
This one is so fun and easy to do! Hot cocoa recipes are basic, and typically consist of just a few ingredients that you likely already have at home. Try adding a candy cane for a fun Christmas twist.
Sugar Cut Out Cookies
Who doesn’t love homemade sugar cookies? My kids love making cookie cut outs each year and decorating them! This is a fun way to involve everyone in the family, even the little ones can shake sprinkles on the cookies. If you don’t have cookie cutters, try making your own with aluminum foil and cardboard. We did this last year and the kids loved it.
Rice Krispie Treats
Your family will love making homemade rice krispie treats. It’s so easy and you don’t even have to bake them! Marshmallows, butter, and rice krispie cereal is all you need. It is also fun to decorate them with icing once they cool, for a festive touch.
Apple Pie is such a classic, and for good reason! My kids love baking pies and you will find it’s actually fairly simple to do. If you do not want to make homemade dough, the refrigerated section at the grocery store has a large variety of pre-made dough. Grab your favorite pie crust, fill it, and bake! Simple, easy, and delicious.
Christmas Tree Cake
We love making shaped cakes! There are a variety of styles and sizes, but our family has a Christmas tree baking pan, and it’s a huge hit each year. If cakes intimidate you, don’t worry, boxed mix from the store is perfect. Who said cakes were just for birthdays?
Okay, I’m about to spill on my super-secret donut recipe. Guests love my powered sugar donuts and we never have leftovers. Are you ready? Biscuit dough. You heard me!
This is the easiest, and most delicious breakfast treat, and my family loves it. We use a shot glass, or the top piece of a baby bottle (because real life) and cut out donut holes and leave the outer section as a ringed donut. Fry them up, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. So easy and delicious!
Oreo balls are classic treat and so fun to make! The kids will love smashing up the Oreos—or you can use a food processor, but it’s more fun with the kids!—to make this simple and delicious treat.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
I know chocolate chip cookies are not just a Christmas treat, but they must be mentioned! They are so easy to make, just follow the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip packaging. Your kids will be so eager to help make them. My oldest daughter loves to turn the oven light on and watch them “melt” and “grow” as she says! They pair perfectly with a glass of homemade hot cocoa.
There are many types of bread, but banana is my favorite to make with the kids. The kids love to mash up the bananas with the fork and then help me mix it all in. Pro tip—make them in muffin tins, so everyone can help pour in the batter.
What is Christmas without a fresh batch of Puppy Chow, with Christmas M&M’s mixed in? This treat is so easy to make and requires no baking, as a bonus. Chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar, you cannot go wrong with this sweet treat.
I hope you are feeling inspired and motivated to plan your families holiday baking day. There is nothing better than to slow down, spend time together, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. The gift of time and togetherness are the basic ingredients of a Very Merry Christmas.