I absolutely want Flora to love cooking, and like all kids she always wants to be involved in what her mum is doing, whether it’s in the kitchen, if I’m vacuuming, hanging the laundry, or trying to go to the toilet. But the kitchen seems like a good place to try and involve her in my activities, and she’s keen, so it makes me feel a bit sad when I tell her she can’t really help me peel the sweet potatoes or do the washing up.
So as soon as there’s something she can do, even if it means she will make a mess (and I swear she does it on purpose to maximise the fallout zone) I try to take the opportunity to let her get her hands (face, hair, clothes, my clothes, the floor…) dirty.
The best way to do this is to plan a tailor-made child-friendly cooking activity, and no better time than Christmas. Here are a couple of things I’ve found in the shops which I think make wonderful Christmas gifts for kids.
Flora is a bit young for the chocolate one but I think a child (or adult!) of any age would be excited by this. I make my own chocolate at home (post on that to follow soon) and it’s such a fulfilling experience – as well as a filling experience. I thoroughly recommend it. Especially if you love chocolate that isn’t 60 % sugar.
I bought this kit in my local organic shop. Gifts that are things kids can do rather than stack up in their ever-growing piles of stuff get my vote – and this one is healthy-ish as well. You can get similar things on Amazon, but this chocolate kit appealed to me because it’s raw, organic, dairy free and contains only natural ingredients. A virtuous treat! Hallelujah!
Then I found this in Marks & Spencer, and so we decided to invite Flora’s friend over for a baking session. They were so excited and really enjoyed making the gingerbread men, and it’s conveniently mostly prepared in ready-measured bags of mixture, so you don’t need to make too much mess or buy a lot of ingredients.
Now, the finished product isn’t exactly a masterpiece. We didn't go for the whole house using the provided template, as that seemed a bit fiddly for our target audience, so we used some cookie cutters I had.
Flora and her friend were utterly delighted. They were genuinely happy to be making something. They cook often at nursery, and it seems to be an activity children always appreciate. It was a bit of a challenge to prevent them eating the sweets before they went on the biscuits, and I think there may have been a little bit of kiddie-slobber on them in the end, but hey. Flora was ultimately more interested in the making than the eating, fortunately.
So if you’re stuck for original and worthwhile gift ideas for the masses of kids you have to buy for, run down to M&S or a health food shop and buy a stack of cooking projects. It's a lovely way to spend time with your kids and teach them to love cooking - an important life skill. And of course, like all good presents, you can eat it when you're done.