Whether you are hosting a children’s holiday party, helping with a school party or throwing a holiday get-together for families, you need a game plan. A holiday party can sour fast when children are bored and left to their own devices. Here are budget holiday party tips for games, food, crafts, prizes, activities, decorations and organization.
Begin with an icebreaker, especially if children don’t know each other all that well. Gather children into a group for introductions in the form of a game. Have children share their favorite holiday movie, what reindeer they are most like, the funniest gift they ever got, their funniest holiday memory.
Provide choices. Set up activity stations. Provide four to six different activities set up in different areas of the room. Allow about 20 minutes per activity and then rotate so everyone gets a turn to do each activity.
-Food/ snack area Cover the floor with an old shower curtain or something disposable that you can fold the spillage up into and pitch out. Provide hand washing area with baby wipes, spray soap and paper towels and hand sanitizer. Keep snacks simple, fun and nutritious. Cheese and crackers, cookies to decorate, veggie and dip tray, fruit tray, popcorn, pretzels, crustless sandwiches cut into holiday shapes. Avoid excess sugar and pop. Use spoons to serve, not fingers.
-Craft station Set up crafts based on age. Have an older child or adult be in charge of this station. Choose crafts which children can have success with that are not too difficult. Make sure you are very familiar with the craft and give good instructions. A poster on the wall with clear step-by-step instructions is helpful for the readers. For non-readers, you can make a picture diagram to help.
Make one bag of supplies for each kid with glue, scissors, pencils, crayons in the center of the table. It is nice to make gifts for family members; kids love to do this and often don’t have an opportunity or assistance.
Oriental Trading sells pre-packaged craft sets for $1.99 to $5.95 per dozen sets.
-Gift-wrapping station: If children make a gift craft, provide a gift-wrapping area. Save money by using recycled wrapping paper or brown paper lunch sacks which kids can decorate with markers and stickers.
-Card-making station: set out construction paper, recycled holiday cards, trim, ribbon, tissue paper, stickers, glue, scissors.
-Game station: Set out holiday riddles, puzzles, word games. Assign a leader. Here’s an easy game: Holiday I Spy. Fill a glass jar with rice. Put in 25 tiny items- safety pin, button, penny, dime, acorn, rock, straight pin, washer, screw, nail, miniature holiday items. Let children move the jar, but not open it. An adult helper writes down the items as children find them.
-Activity station: Musical chairs, a cupcake walk, Toss the rings on Rudolph’s nose, pin-the pom- pom on Santa’s hat, toss beanbags into Santa’s sack, clothespin drop into a jar, bucket bonanza. Have a leader for this activity.
Prizes for everyone: Set out a prize buffet with baskets of prizes where everyone can choose a prize for each activity they do. Good prizes include: pencils, temporary tattoos, gum, key chains, noise putty, books, lip gloss, flashlights, jewelry fiber optic toys, mugs, games, hats, game sets.
Share the cost: Send request lists with invitations. Ask for: paper products, snacks, bags of candy, craft supplies, prizes.
Teach generosity: Request a small gift for a needy child. You can also invite some needy children or host a party for them. If you collect toys for a family it works best to leave the gifts in a waterproof bag on the back doorstep, anonymously. I have delivered gifts face-to-face and it can be embarrassing. Just leave a note like “You are loved!”
End with a Holiday story.
The Polar Express
How the Grinch Saved Christmas
The Little Drummer Boy,
The Clown of God(Tomie DePoala)
The Legend of the Poinsettia
Gather everyone around. You can sings carols together, too. I have spent some of my happiest moments reading to children. I have even read to groups with adults; everyone seems to enjoy a great story.
May your holidays, whatever they are, be delightful for you and yours. For free printable holiday crafts, games and coloring pages, visit the blogs listed.