I loved this article from Hearts to Home.  I believe children need to be involved in all of what we do! ..Debbie

Let Children Help with Holidays
by Holly Schurter

Holly Schurter

Whether you are going over the river and through the woods to someone else’s house or hosting the Thanksgiving feast yourself, one of the secrets to a happy holiday is involving your children in getting ready for the celebration.

Kids gain a necessary sense of competency when they are able to offer real help preparing for a family event. They are less likely to disrupt plans they’ve helped arrange and carry out. And helping get ready makes a child feel like a real part of the celebration.

Inviting younger members of the family to help prepare for the feast is a win-win situation for everyone, as long as you remember to:

– Choose tasks that are age-appropriate, (you want this to be something your child can enjoy and complete successfully).

– Offer clear, courteous instruction and encouragement, especially to children trying something new.

– Allow enough time to practice a bit, then to accomplish the task.

– Say “thank you” and “well done” when the task is finished.

If your family plans to travel over the holiday, your child can help you get ready. Ask your child to:

– Help make sure all the clothes you need to pack for her are clean, or ready to be laundered.

– Lay out personal things he will need so you can check to be sure he has everything: toothbrush, hairbrush, pajamas, etc.

– Help prepare a travel bag filled with travel-appropriate books, games and snacks.

– Help get the car ready for a trip: empty trash, vacuum, clean windows.

– Be sure you have things you want to take along: maps, gifts, covered dishes, etc.

If the celebration is in your home, consider what is age-appropriate, then invite your child to help:

– Bake pies, make stuffing or mash potatoes. (If necessary, practice before the big meal.) Copy the recipes you use on a recipe card, note the occasion, and give her a copy to keep.

– Choose and display old family photographs as part of your holiday decorations. (Old family photographs are effective conversation starters.)

– Make place cards and/or simple table decorations.

– Set the table. Show your child how to do this task correctly, then let her finish.

– Assist you with a last-minute pick-up of the house before guests arrive.

– Greet guests as they arrive. Practice how to offer a gracious welcome (including making introductions) before guests arrive, if necessary.

– Hang up hats and coats.

– Visit with guests for a specified period of time. Talk with your child ahead of time about how to have a good conversation. Give her some helpful background about guests and relatives she might not know well.

– Prepare relish plates or pass hors d’oevres.

– Think of things to be thankful for, and ways to express thanksgiving to God during the celebration.

– Act as official photographer for the day. Use a disposable camera for younger children. Be sure to give clear instructions about how to take photographs without offending people, as well as any particular photographs you might want. Once the photographs are developed, let your child help decide how best to share or display them.

– Entertain younger guests. Prepare a “Pin the feathers on the turkey” game, or “how many cranberries in the jar?” and let him be in charge.

– Clear the table and help with clean-up in the kitchen.

– Put chairs and tables away.

– Say a gracious good-bye as guests leave.

As you work with your child, talk with her about the holiday. Ask what she is thankful for, and share what you are thankful for. Talk about the Pilgrims and why they came here. Discuss how the Indians helped the Pilgrims, and what happened next to the Indians. Tell her how President Lincoln proclaimed a Thanksgiving celebration in the midst of the Civil War.

Share your good memories of family Thanksgiving celebrations, and tell him positive stories about your extended family. Pass on the heritage that makes this Thanksgiving celebration meaningful, both as an American and in your own family.

Don’t miss the opportunity to let your kids participate in making the holiday happen. It will be one more thing for which you all can be thankful!

About the Author:
Holly Schurter is the wife of John, the mom of eight, and the grandmother of nine, as well as a Hearts at Home volunteer.