We all know what an incredibly busy time of year the month of December is. There is just so darn much to do and not a lot of time to do it! So how about recruiting a few helpers, the kind that you already have hanging around the house?

Chances are, your kids would love the opportunity to help you get ready for the holidays. Here are a few ideas on how to put their good intentions to work for you:

Gain Their Interest By Gathering Their Opinions

The best way to get your kids involved with the holidays is to include them in the planning phase. As you are thinking about what you plan to serve at family gatherings, have them list their favorite holiday foods. (You might be surprised to hear that the menu item that they are looking forward to the most are your "famous" sweet and sour meatballs!) If holiday baking is on your to-do list, ask them what kinds of cookies to bake. And by all means, make sure that you ask their opinion on what they are hoping to receive as holiday gifts!

And while you are working on that endless December to-do list, have a dinner-table discussion on what holiday traditions are the most important to them. If they are no longer interested in decorating gingerbread houses, drop that item off of your tradition list, guilt-free.

Delegate Some Tasks to Older Children, and Ask Younger Ones to Serve as Your Assistants

Personally, holiday preparation would be a lot easier to manage if I didn't have to still keep up with all of my other daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. And that is what makes December a great time to allow an older child to demonstrate some responsibility as well as earn a little extra holiday spending money. Sorting, starting, and folding laundry are great tasks to delegate. So is dinner prep and packing school lunches. Were you thinking of including some nice holiday background music for your family get-together? Ask your iTunes-savvy teen to create a holiday playlist.

Younger children who aren't quite ready for a task of their own can make excellent holiday assistants. Especially when you tell them that they are being your elf-helpers…just like Santa has at the North Pole! My little elves are great at helping me dust around the house (we tackle it as a team) and de-cluttering areas where the piles of papers and toys and clothes have started to grow (again)!

Make Room for the Bounty That's About to Be Delivered!

Whether it's toys, books, electronics, or clothes that are on your child's holiday wish list, once it arrives at your house, you are going to need to find room for it all! Ask your kids to take an hour over the weekend to sort through unused, no longer wanted items, and create piles to be delivered to donation centers.

Make Time to Give Back

The holidays are an excellent opportunity to teach your children the joys of giving gifts (we know they've already mastered the pleasure of receiving them!). Family-to-Family.org is a fantastic organization that has lots of great programs to help match up your family to a family in need. You can sponsor a family and actually purchase and pack their groceries on a monthly basis, you can have your children create a "birthday in a box" to send to a child in need, or you can participate in a family literacy program to send a book a month to a family whose children are going without books to read.

The holidays are about enjoying time with your family, and I hope that these ideas have inspired you to find new ways to do just that!

More Parenting Squad Holiday Guides

This post was included in the Everything Home blog carnival.