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Pro tips on recruiting the kids for party prep

The winter holidays are a time of magic, warmth, generosity and one more thing – stress. Trying to clean and decorate your home while still keeping an eye on excited kids can bring even a pro dad to his knees.

But whether you’ve got a studio apartment in the city or a single-family home in the suburbs, there are some tested tips for keeping kids busy that can save your bacon.

The strategy in a nutshell is to get them involved. Maybe you shouldn’t entrust little fingers with tasks like pulling baking pans from a hot oven, slicing vegetables with a paring knife or carrying grandma’s best china plates to the table. But there are plenty of simpler tasks that can keep them busy, make them feel like part of the team and maybe even contribute to getting the party prepared on time.

Decorating on deadline.
Here’s the scenario – your in-laws are arriving in an hour for hors d’oeuvres and you’ve got to vacuum the floors, wipe down the tables, bring up extra chairs from the basement and get the good napkins out of the laundry, all while your partner has claimed the kitchen to prepare the meal.

And those short little critters asking a thousand questions, knocking over furniture and dribbling juice on the floor? Well, those are your kids, and right about now, you’re wondering if you could just lock them in a closet for a few blessed minutes.

Wait, you can actually store kids in the closet?
No.

Other solutions.
Ask a father who has survived the holiday gauntlet in past years and many will tell you there is a sure-fire solution for getting the kids out from underfoot – put them to work!

An adult may view chores as onerous, but kids see them as games:

Sure, you may have to do some of the tougher tasks a second time after the kids are “finished,” but in the meantime, you’ve gained an hour of freedom to see to tougher jobs, and you’ve even taught your family the values of teamwork and responsibility.