Happy holidays to everyone around the world! We all have different ways of celebrating this special season, enjoying beautiful customs, traditions and religions from around the world. One tradition that is universally enjoyed by children is gift-giving. Whether it’s finding presents under a Christmas tree, receiving gifts for Hanukkah, or unwrapping treats for Advent, children around the world look forward to fun and festive gifts. Today I want to chat about the perfect gifts for little foodies.
If you have a little foodie in your home, one that likes to “play kitchen” and create pretend soups, meals and tea parties, there are some wonderful gifts out there to spur your child’s imagination. And while the play part is wonderful, you can even go a step further and use these gifts to teach your little one about how children live and eat around the world. No matter the season, the culture or religion, food connects everyone all over the globe. Learning about what people around the world eat provides great insight into different cultures and customs. This in turn broadens your little one’s knowledge about the world and all of its beautiful citizens.
Global Gifts for Little Foodies
I’ve compiled a list of foodie-related toys, books and even kitchen tools that small hands can use in the kitchen. Get creative! Whether through pretend global cooking or trying real international recipes, have fun learning together!
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These days, food toys are not just about pretend apples and oranges. Rather, you will find items that represent all the diverse cultures and cuisines of the world. From wooden sushi sets to French pastries, you can find a diverse cuisine set from just about every culture! Here’s a rundown of some fun finds:
An adorable collection of plush toys in the shape of world foods! Curious eaters can hug everything from “Miso Sam Sushi” to “Tammy Tamago” to an ice cream sandwich pillow.
Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Set
A well-made, sturdy and realistic sushi-making set for kids. Melissa and Doug are known for their traditional take on toys, often made of wood and built to last. This little set comes with sushi rolls, tuna, shrimp and a cute set of chopsticks and cleaver to slice the rolls. All in an adorable storage box for hours of foodie fun.
HABA is a delightful toy manufacturer based in Europe, but whose products can now be found all over the world! They specialize in wooden and plush toys and draw from all cultures when creating their products. The Italian gelato set mentioned is just one of many you will find at www.haba.com or www.amazon.com.
Who knew you could turn Shish Kebab into a learning experience! By far one of the more culturally diverse toy foods on the market. HAPE also makes has an adorable line of wooden toy kitchen appliances, listed above, that are great for pretend play. www.hapeusa.com
REAL KITCHEN GADGETS FOR KIDS
Is your child old enough to graduate to real kitchen gadgets? These finds are fabulous, practical, and most of all safe for your child’s little hands. With knives designed specifically for children ages 4 and up, you can safely teach little ones how to slice a piece of fruit and more. Zyliss also makes a great lettuce knife, which is not specifically designed for kids, but is safe for chopping lettuce and practicing knife skills (the blade is made of sturdy plastic). If baking is more their style (Cookies! Cake!), Master Chef Kitchen, Curious Chef or Williams Sonoma, all make children’s cooking sets designed to be used in the kitchen with actual ingredients. Help mom and dad cook for real!
Children’s cookbooks provide recipes and inspiration, but with little ones in mind. The recipes are fun and often whimsical and the pictures are bright, colorful and tasty-looking. The books also provide instruction and safety tips for new cooks. I can’t emphasize enough the joy I have found exploring these books with my little girls. Cooking something with mom and dad and getting to visualize and eat your final creation is a sweet way to bond with loved ones in the kitchen. Here are some of our favorites:
The Disney Princess Cookbook, (Parragon Books)
Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook, Nicola Graimes and Howard Shooter (DK Children 2007)
Mom and Me Cookbook, Annabel Karmel (DK Children, 2005)
Happy eating, playing and gifting this holiday season! For more ideas about teaching kids to eat diverse, please visit my blog at www.masalababyfood.com
Leena Saini is the author of Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food (Quirk Books, 2016)