Some might question whether holiday preparation falls under life skills training. However, our family considers it a very useful part of life skills.
Life skills learned during holiday preparation might include…
- basic planning for an event,
- large meal planning, which usually includes math skills,
- budgeting, another area of math skills,
- time scheduling,
- working well with others,
- hosting and being a gracious host,
- appreciation and thankfulness,
- and much more!
These life skills are quite useful in holiday preparation. However, they also provide great training for other aspects of our life. Indeed, these life skills may be some of the most useful throughout our children’s life. So, why not teach them in a festive, happy atmosphere as we prepare for holiday gatherings.
We celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas as important family gatherings. In our home, holiday preparation begins with planning the day. If a family member needs to work (hospitals never close!) we may shift our planned event to accommodate everyone. Yes, planning to include everyone constitutes life skills, especially in a large, active family.
Next, we work on the menu. This encompasses not only planning a large menu, but ensuring that everyone can take part. From a very early age, each child helps with some part of the food buffet. Younger children create the relish tray or make mashed potatoes. As they grow, so do their responsibilities.
Good Planning is more than life skills training
Good planning helps ensure the holiday is enjoyed by all, without too much stress. Planning includes what we will serve and the amounts needed of each. While our children all learn to cook from an early age (see Life Skills- Home Management again!) holiday planning requires additional planning.
As such, we consider the following:
- Figure out the number of people attending. (This seems to grow each year!)
- Plan each meal item. We do buffet style with plenty of variety, all vegetarian, many vegan.
- Assemble the grocery list. This actually becomes multiple lists.
- List 1: items we need ahead of schedule to begin early cooking.
- List 2: items we need last minute, to ensure they are fresh.
- List 3: actually might be part of the first two, and includes non-food items such as serving ware, bakeware, and even a little decor.
- Create the “who does what” list. This begins to come together before the grocery list and often alongside the meal planning. After the basics, each family member is encouraged to offer their choices of what they hope to help with or contribute.
- And, the final step includes who has the kitchen for what time slot. Yes, in a large family, this becomes necessary, even with an extra large kitchen.
Teach these life skills from early childhood. It might seem more like a holiday checklist, and it is. But, it is also helping our children grow up, learning holiday preparation in such a way that they avoid feeling overwhelmed. I could do the entire preparation and know other moms that do. However, by teaching these skills as we live together, our children become teens fully capable of planning a complete holiday on their own, should the need arise.
Holiday Preparation Becomes Family Fun
Some of my fondest memories of childhood and beyond include holiday preparation with my mom and family. Over the years, we have built such memories with our own children, too. I still enjoy the chatter in the kitchen and friendly chiding as we each whip up our own contribution. These hours become family memories none will forget.
But, almost as important as the beautiful memories are the life skills. Most of our teens could quite easily plan a small gathering with great ease. In fact, one of my daughters did the majority of the planning and development for her own sweet 16 party. Given a budget, realistic guidelines, and a few suggestions, she had a party for more than 150 guests. That might be considered a final exam for a course called Life Skills-Holiday Preparation!
Planning Beyond the Food
However, we must also consider planning beyond the food itself. Decor, time, and any activities — all must be included in the planning. Not just what, but who will put them together and when everyone arrives.
And, don’t forget the clean-up. In our home, everyone helps with the clean-up, too. However, giving a little forethought to where things will be put and even who will wash the dishes helps keep the event from becoming a major work-fest for one or two people. Plan ahead. Ask for help. Designate.
Although our holiday events are mostly family-centered, it’s important to thank everyone for their contributions and for coming and enjoying. Holiday preparation life skills training includes being a gracious host or hostess during and after the event. While thank-you cards might not be needed, those verbal thanks are well appreciated. Teach your children to include these in their good-byes, too.