With the holiday season quickly approaching, we know things can be both loving and stressful: a houseful of family, relatives, friends and other guests, children running around and a busy kitchen. We all know children love to help, so, to that end, we wanted to provide you with some ideas on how to get kids helping out in the kitchen, at the dining table, and even with the younger kids.

1. In the Kitchen
Set up a “helper table,” if you happen to have a kid-sized table and chairs, bring that into the kitchen, or area in view of the kitchen, and set your little helpers up with plastic knives or safety scissors, aprons, dish clothes, salad spinners, easy to cut veggies, string beans to snap or cookies to cut out and decorate. They’ll love participating in the cooking process, are more likely to eat the food when they know they’ve “helped” make it, and will free your hands up for the bigger ticket food items, like the turkey!

2. In the Dining Room
Both older and younger kids can get in on the act of setting the table. Little ones can put down placemats and fold napkins. Older ones can lay out the plates, silverware, glasses and rearrange chairs, if necessary.

3. Distractions and Decorations
If the kitchen gets too crowded or the kids get restless, have older ones take the little ones in another room to work on making holiday decorations. Remember the days of tracing your hand and making it into a Thanksgiving turkey? Have the younger children do the same thing out of construction paper, crayons and craft supplies. Create paper chains for the dining room, have the older kids help them cut out paper snow flakes or make holiday cards for family members.

4. When in Doubt…
Hit up the library pre-holiday and have your children check out books and movies they might like. Put away the books and movies until the holiday and then when they’re restless at the table, pop a movie in the VCR or set up a reading area in the living room. It will allow you to spend more time at the table catching up with relatives and friends.

5. Clean-up!
Get your older kids to help out on dish duty: one drying or loading the dishwasher. Younger ones can help clean the napkins and placemats off the table. Everyone (guests included) can help clear the table and wrap up the leftovers! Even though you might be hosting the holiday, it doesn’t mean that you should be the only one stuck in the kitchen cleaning up!

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