Welcome to the Holiday season! It’s right before winter break and your children/students are probably bouncing out of their seats with anticipation of food, family, and hopefully some snow! (But not too much, Mother Nature! A light dusting is all we need.)
In some school districts, elementary school PTO’s or PTA’s host a holiday party for each grade, while in others the responsibility falls to the classroom teacher. In either case, parent volunteers are usually called on to provide an extra set of hands and eyes and, of course, delicious snacks! If your students’ classroom is hosting a holiday party right before break, here are some stress-free, fun ideas to get everyone excited while keeping things as orderly as possible.
And don’t forget: you can easily use Pay4SchoolStuff.com to collect donations for your party, keep track of volunteer signups and maintain a list of goodies and specific items that members/families have agreed to provide.
Of course there are snacks. After all, what’s a holiday party without food?! These days, there are many students who suffer from various food allergies, so it’s important to host a fun party without having any child feel excluded. Be sure your classroom party has loads of different goodies available, but stay away from the most common allergens found in savory treats: peanuts and tree nuts. It may be a good idea to send a notice out to parents who plan to participate in the event that they should make sure they aren’t providing any dishes that may trigger an allergic reaction. The treats we’re specifying here may or may not contain allergens, so please be sure you always check ingredient lists.
DIY Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are generally a fan favorite – they’re pretty simple in terms of ingredients, but oh-so-delicious! Use holiday or seasonal themed cookie cutters to create different shapes, and brings lots of different frosting colors/flavors so that the children can personalize their treats! Click here to view a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.
Peppermint Hot Cocoa
Ask around and see if anyone you know has a large coffee urn to use for hot cocoa. Top this sweet treat with whipped cream and candy canes. If you can find them, peppermint marshmallows will go a long way in spreading holiday cheer in place of (or in addition to!) the whipped cream.
Hanukkah might be over already, but Jewish students in class will still appreciate being thought of (and their parents will probably love it as well!). Teachers, you can also use this super simple treat to educate students about various faiths and how they celebrate their holidays! This treat is very simple to make, so children can create their own treat from start to finish – with adult supervision, of course. (If you’d like to go for a non-denominational treat, you can use the same ingredients in this recipe to create Marshmallow snowmen!) Click here to get the full recipe from Martha Stewart!
Activities & Games
Once the kiddos have indulged in all those sweets, you’ll want to give them a way to burn off that sugar! Here are a few activities and games that will keep them engaged without letting things get too out of hand. For all of these activities, you can give out classroom-themed prizes, such as a free homework pass, or an extra star on their classroom helpers chart.
This game might take a bit of work on the part of the party leader, but it’ll be a great way to keep the kids in their seats while they eat their tasty treats. Create a few different versions of bingo sheets, using holiday or seasonal words, and give each child some Hershey’s Kisses, M&Ms, or marshmallows to use as markers. The first child to get “Bingo” (or perhaps a seasonal themed word, like “Snowy”) wins!
This is a great way to teach students about different regions of the country and/or world, and to teach them about working well as a team. Test them on their knowledge of what the weather is like in Australia in December, or what United States city is famous for its New Year’s Eve celebration.
Best Dressed Snowperson
Arm your students with tissue/toilet paper, markers, and some old scarves, hats, and mittens. For extra creativity, throw in tiaras, cowboy hats, and any other goofy costume pieces you’ve got laying around or that volunteers are willing to donate for the game. Split them into teams and have them elect one teammate to be the snowperson. First they’ve got to wrap their elected teammate in the tissue/toilet paper to really give them the snowperson feel, and then work out their best snow person wardrobe.