Christmas will be here before you know it, which means that most people are starting to plan out their menus, think about their seating arrangements and stock up on butter, flour and sugar from the grocery store. If you’re cooking for a family this holiday season—especially a large, extended one—there’s another aspect of the holidays you’ll have to deal with: the kids table.
If you’re used to cooking for adults willing to try new foods and experiment with flavors, hosting a table full of picky kids at Christmas can be an overwhelming experience. Before you reach for the frozen chicken nuggets, though, consider some other options for hosting the younger guests at your holiday get-together; it’s definitely possible to make easy meals for kids that hit a balance between appealing food and foods with obvious kid appeal! Try the following holiday kid-table suggestions:
- Keep foods familiar
The holidays are typically not the best time to experiment with complicated new recipes, especially when it comes to kids. For the kids table, try to stick to versions of meals kids love and recognize, such as simple mashed potatoes, a pasta dish or a familiar protein. Kids are usually more willing to try dishes when they are familiar with what they’re made out of.
- Provide some easy entertainment
If you’re having a kids table, skip the nice tablecloth and put down butcher paper and crayons or interesting place mates instead. Not only will your cleanup be a lot easier, but you won’t have to worry about entertaining kids during the actual meal.
- Feature some “kid dishes”
Going all out with fancy, classy dishes for the grown-ups at your holiday dinner can make the night extra special, but picky kids might not feel the same way. If you’re going to feature cauliflower gratin at your table, consider also including a more kid-friendly dish like mac and cheese.
- Keep it small
Make sure the food being served on the kids table is actually “kid-sized.” Fill a tray with smaller pieces of meat or potatoes cut into tinier pieces so that parents won’t have to spend half of their meals cutting up their kids’ food. Make kids table food as simple to eat as possible.
- Let them help!
Saving a couple easy steps on certain dishes is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen and can also keep them entertained before the big meal. Have them help sprinkle cheese on top of casseroles or mix salad greens with dressing –they’ll be more likely to eat foods they help create, too!
Don’t let the kids table get in the way of your holiday plans, but don’t completely forget about it either! A little extra effort on your part can go a long way with kids and can help all of your holiday plans go smoothly.