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Kids, Cookies and Christmas

Turn family baking into an enlightening adventure

Christmas cookie season is upon us. Making the sweet treats can be one of the most pleasant ways to pass a chilly, indoor afternoon with your children.

Baking with kids teaches them kitchen skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives. You also can use the opportunity to pass along some lessons about choosing healthy ingredients, practicing portion control and the joy of giving gifts baked with love when someone nearby needs a little cheering up.

Here are six tips for baking with kids:

Be present. If you usually watch TV while you bake, turn it off and give your full attention to your children. Baking can be a time to teach and bond with them.

Take your time. Choose a day when you want to bake, not one when you have to—because six dozen cookies are due at your kids’ school the next day. Make it an event, not a chore.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. So what if the cookies are all different sizes and there’s sticky dough all over the countertop? Embrace the magic; don’t expect perfection.

Assign tasks based on your children’s ages. Little ones can stir cookie dough and add the chocolate chips. Kids who are a little older can scoop the dough onto baking sheets. As they grow, show them how to use an electric mixer, turn on an oven and safely slide baking sheets onto heated racks.

Teach along the way. For example, you can have the kids separate eggs, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. That way, it doesn’t matter if the yolks spill into the whites as they practice.

Clean up as you go. Putting away the ingredients and wiping off counters after you finish each step of the prep is a good habit for any young baker or cook to form. And it will save you from cleaning up a mess once the fun is done.

While sharing this special time with your children, don’t forget to set a good example by following cooking safety rules.