*** This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Traverse Bay Family Magazine. It is reprinted with permission. ***
I love to entertain during the holidays but it’s not nearly as easy with small children. It’s especially true when those small children so desperately want to help but are too small to help on their own. There are several things you teach them to do that will relieve a little of the work load and make them feel as if they are a part of all the hustle and bustle.
Help Set the Table
I love to set a beautiful table – table linens, china, the whole kit & caboodle — but I still make sure my children are involved. Children from 12-24 months can hand silverware (not sharp knives) to the older siblings or adults. My youngest could set the table at about 3-1/2, thanks to a Melissa & Doug placemat. If they haven’t learned how to set the table, they can carry dishes to it. I even bought a VERY cheap set of nice china with a ton of place settings so that I could let even small children use the fancy dishes and not worry when they break.
Empty the Dishwasher
Holiday cooking produces tons of dirty dishes! Thankfully, my girls can almost empty the dishwasher themselves. I take care of all the sharp knives and set them loose. My almost 2 year old empties the silverware and takes all of their dishes & cups and puts them in the drawer. My 4 year old puts the food storage and baking things away and then hands the glass dishes and glasses up to me to put in the upper cabinets.
Pick Up Toys
I have to confess that my youngest is MUCH more able and willing to help than my oldest was at 20 months because WE were better. She sees a very constant example of picking up and can follow simple directions like “put the blocks in the bucket.” When she sees her sister and I doing it, she jumps right in!
Welcome the Guests
Eventually at some point you will need to take a break. Plan to spend some quality time making a little present for your guests. A small foam sticker craft from a company like Oriental Trading Co. our families personal favorite.
How do your kids participate in hospitality?