Jamie Oliver - cooking with kids festival

As Christmas approaches, everyone finds themselves spending more time in the kitchen, and little hands can help! The important thing is making it fun for them, so they will want to get involved every time you ask.

There’s lots of ways they can help (not to mention hinder) on the day, like mixing batter or cleaning, peeling veg and chopping the veg if they’re old enough. If they’re too young for that, a really creative way to get them involved is to get them to set the table. It’s not just teaching them where the knives, forks and spoons go. They can lay out tablecloths, crackers, tinsel, candles and flowers. You can then keep them busy for longer by asking them to make place names for all your guests. Giving them something to show off when it comes to lunchtime will make them much happier to put down the presents and sit around the table.

The lead up to Christmas is such an important time for families – you rarely get to spend so much time together. Homemade presents are really thoughtful gifts, especially from the children. You could get them to make homemade truffles, get them to help you make chutneys and jams, roll out pastry for mince pies or cut out shapes for some gingerbread men.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, a really fun thing that will keep them busy for hours is to make a gingerbread house. You can start by baking some normal gingerbread, and getting the kids mixing and helping out – the only difference is you don’t cut it into bite-sized pieces at the end, but into the different walls and roof of the house. It can take some real planning to get the actual house structure right, but once that’s done and the house is assembled, the kids will have so much fun decorating it – just supply them with lots of homemade icing in different colours and some sweets for sticking onto the houses. Make sure you supervise them so the decorations end up on the house, not in their mouths!