It’s no easy task to keep kids out of the kitchen while Mom’s preparing the holiday roast beast. But planning an abundance of kids activities ahead of time helps keep holiday meal prep manageable. Pay a trusted teen a few dollars to keep an eye on your own wild bunch so you can concentrate on dinner.
Plan an Outing
Send them all off for a nearby adventure like a trip to the local park or skating rink. Distraction is the name of the game when it comes to little ones — make it entertaining and interesting enough that they won’t feel like they’re being sent off to miss out on all the excitement. If possible, corral a friend from the same age group to help share in the exploits. Having a buddy along makes everything seem more exciting.
Set Up a Craft Table
Kids crafts are always a hit at birthday parties, and holidays are no different. Find an inconspicuous, out-of-the-way nook and bring in the crafting supplies — glue, glitter, washable paints and markers. Have a project in mind and find someone to help the kids make it. Call it a theme craft — kids can make a gumdrop ornament using real gumdrops, a paper plate turkey or even a clove apple. Ensure your projects are age-appropriate, and keep a hawk’s eye on anyone using scissors or hot glue.
Pop in a Movie
Lay in a supply of new, eagerly anticipated block busters to keep kids busy while you cook — a favorite ‘tween in concert, the latest Disney offering. Older kids typically need new, unseen attractions to keep them occupied, but for the tiny tots, even an hour’s access to kid TV should suffice.
Assign an Interesting Task
It might be worth pulling the decorations out early and giving the kids the task of decorating the family Christmas tree, with supervision, of course. It’s an important job — something kids love — and boxes of shiny ornaments and tinsel are just plain fun for tiny hands to root through. If the tree-decorating task has all ready been accomplished, consider sending the junior troops out into the back yard on a pinecone hunt. Just make sure you show the acceptable amount of awe at the treasures they bring back. Expect more than pinecones — acorns, interesting rocks, dirt clumps, dead leaves and stray feathers are all probable finds. Of course, that doesn’t make any one less important than the others.