This year has been especially challenging for parents, having to juggle work and home-based learning for their kids. Now that the school holidays are here, families are trawling through the web for creative things to do together. One activity that is gaining traction, especially this close to Christmas is cooking.  Cooking with kids, if done right, can be quite beneficial as it involves children in the active learning of an important life skill. Besides learning to fend for themselves, these little helpers can be of great help in the kitchen too.

Here are some fun ways to get creative with your kids.

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses are part of making the holidays magical, and decorating them is something kids love.

The process is divided into three steps – baking, constructing and decorating! First, whisk together dry ingredients like all-purpose flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt into a large bowl. Next, in a separate bowl make a butter, sugar, egg and molasses mixture. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and knead into a dough; refrigerate for two hours. Cut the dough into shapes to create a roof, front, back and sides of the house and bake. Now that the hardest part is over, grab your little ones for the construction and decoration. Use royal icing as an edible industrial glue and assemble the gingerbread house. Finally, grab different icing and treats like candy canes and gumdrops to decorate the house, complete with windows and doors. Fun and educational, Gingerbread Houses are the epitome of Aristotle’s teachings – patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet.

Tip: If this seems too much work, you can opt for IKEA’s pre-made DIY Gingerbread House kits. Just assemble and decorate for an easy holiday treat!

Rudolph Pancakes

Perfect for Christmas morning, these fun Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pancakes will put a smile on everyone’s lips. For this breakfast dish, you can make a basic pancake batter by mixing milk, egg and self-rising flour in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Next, butter a large frying pan and pour in the batter to form one large circle, one smaller circle and two triangles for ears. Cut bacon or turkey strips in half and cook until crispy. Get the kids to plate the large pancake, with the smaller pancake on top to form the reindeer’s face. For the antlers and ears, use bacon or turkey strips and the triangular pancakes. Top off with marshmallow and chocolate chip eyes and a strawberry nose. And there you have it – a visual delight that will taste just as good!

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Pancake (Photo: Kidspot)

Santa Brownie Hats

If your kids believe in the tradition of leaving treats for Santa, ditch the traditional sugar cookies and milk for these Santa Brownie Hats. To get started, combine butter, dark chocolate and sugar and heat while stirring. Add eggs, flour and milk chocolate. Keep on stirring until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Take off the heat and spoon the mixture into a prepared pan and bake. Once the brownies are ready, your little elves can help by cutting the brownies in circles, using a cutter. Drizzle melted chocolate on top and add a strawberry, followed by whipped cream to make the Santa hat pom-poms and trimmings.

Santa Brownie Hats (Photo: Cakes By Rachel)

Cucumber Christmas Trees

This recipe, made only with veggies, is a great nutritional snack for kids. First, peel a carrot and cut into eight circles to make the trunk for the Christmas tree. Take another piece and make small stars with a mini star-shaped cutter. Next, using a vegetable peeler, cut long strips from the cucumber and fold the strips back and forth to create a tree shape. String the cocktail stick or skewer with one of the carrot ‘trunk’ pieces, add the folded cucumber strips and a carrot star on top, and you’re done!

Mini vegetable Christmas trees (Photo: Eats Amazing)