My love for the holidays runs deep because I, like David Sedaris, was once a Macy’s Christmas elf. Well, not exactly—but I could have been. As a chef, I’ve spent thousands of hours over the years designing, building, frosting, rolling, and baking for Santa’s imminent arrival. I’ve cooked on the holiday stage at Macy’s, prepped the Who-hash for dozens of family meals, and fed the reindeer too many inappropriate things to count.

I had the elf position on lock early on in life. I’ve always loved to cook and even as a boy could wrap gifts with the precision of an origamist. (No tape. Believe it.) In my house, there are really only two months of the year that matter: August, when we eat figs and sea urchins on vacation in Italy, and December, when nature shares her most precious foods—freshly pressed olive oil, panettone, and white truffles.

Italian Olive Wood Spatula
3.5 Quart Pumpkin Dutch Oven
Adjustable Rolling Pin with Measuring Rings

Now, as an adult with two children of my own, my wife says that I’m 50 percent elf. While it’s true that I stick to the four food groups—candy, candy cane, candy corn, and maple syrup—while running between my restaurants, it’s actually the eggnog, holiday windows, and gift giving that get me going this time of the year.

I’m training my eight-year-old daughter, Coco, and son, Roman, who is six, to be my elf apprentices. They post up next to me in the kitchen to make the Christmas lasagna, churn out anise-scented gnocchi dolci, and roll out the fig pinwheels for Santa. (They’re his favorite.) All of these activities require planning, a feverish search for the best ingredients, and a great collection of kitchen toys.

Embrace the chaos.

Here are a few of my favorite gadgets to help your elf game this holiday season. With a little patience, you might be donning a felt hat yourself soon.

Staub has been making exceptional cast-iron baking dishes since 1974. Their cast-iron pumpkin cocotte is welcome on any table during the holidays, but it’s not just destined for stuffing. Kids can bake brownies, make bread, roast a chicken, and even serve soup from this beauty. Every kitchen needs one of these.

Olive-wood baking tools are a nice step up from the classics. I love the detail on the small offset spatula, the tool I use most in my professional kitchens.

Nobody will mess up rolling out the dough when using an adjustable rolling pin. The slide-glide attachments allow you to get the correct thickness every time.

Everyone needs to look the part, and these striped aprons will keep children and adults alike looking Insta-approved.

Nothing says you’ve mastered the holiday cookie game like springerle cookies. These wooden molds are beautiful to collect, and they make the most professional-looking and delicious anise cookies you’ve ever seen.

Personalizable Children’s Apron
Christmas Wooden Cookie Stamp

When you’ve exhausted every holiday film and your kid needs manual labor to stay out of the packages, break out the stoneware churn and get the next generation acquainted with fresh, cultured butter. Go for the beautiful two-gallon size to make a full pound in one sitting. Procure some waxed paper, string, and festive wrapping, and you’ve got some gifts handled as well.

Plastic knives might suffice for toddlers, but a real piece of steel is a great way to teach children the art of the blade while also providing some much-needed independence. Opinel French knives have the cleanest lines and sharpest edges; they’ll make everyone look and feel like pros.

Essential Kitchen Knives Set
Primo Digital Food Scale
Beluga Highballs, Set of 2

Serious bakers, it’s time to graduate from those tablespoons and join the metric system. On that note, never underestimate the importance of a kitchen scale. The Escali Primo scale comes in fun colors and can’t be beat when it comes to accuracy and ease of use.

Baccarat Beluga Tumblers are perfect for whiskey and ’nog, which should always be sipped while the kids are toiling away. Please drink in moderation—at least until everything is out of the oven.

Ryan Hardy is the New York chef and restaurateur behind Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones, Legacy Records, Bar Pasquale, and the new cocktail lounge Midnight Plus One. Hardy and his team opened Long Island’s Silver Sands Motel in June