Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Party Recap

Hi, friends! I had a few questions on IG about my fall and winter parties, so I'm here today to share some simple tips on how I make our holiday parties fun and exciting BUT enjoyable and calm for their teacher as well. :) 

I try to keep things simple when it comes to parties.  I've learned that just works best.  I have set up parties every way you could think of. I've had parents plan the entire party, I've had parents plan games and crafts, I've done activities as a whole class, and I've done activities in smaller groups.  I've had parties where the games where the activities took so long that we didn't get to even touch the food the kids brought it.  I've also had parties where we revert to playing tic tac toe or hangman because the games/activities didn't take up enough time. 

Over time, I learned that things work best when I'm in charge.  Parents naturally flock to you during parties to ask questions about activities, games, or crafts.  Even if you announce a fellow parent was in charge of the party planning.   For me, nothing is more stressful than shrugging my shoulders and saying "I don't know," to a parent during a party. 

So a few years ago, I just started planning it all.  I reuse many of the same activities from year to year, so it takes literally minutes to put everything into place. :) 

We rock our parties out in rotations.  I have six tables.  We have six stations/rotations.  They move from station to station with their table.  When it's time to switch, I just move the name names to their new station. So easy.  The rotations allow my kids to have fun in a very controlled way.  This allows me to have fun too and many of my classroom parents have remarked at how it allows them to enjoy the experience of volunteering more as well.

I have my students take "party bags" from rotation to rotation.  They put the put any papers, activities, or snacks from each station in them during the party.  It's a great way to keep everything together and to keep the party rolling. :) 

One of the stations always involves a fun snack.  For our winter/Christmas party, we decorated graham crackers.  I am usually in charge of this station. 

Each student had a graham cracker, that they broke in half, a knife with a dollop of icing on it, and sprinkles that they used to make little graham cracker sandwiches with. 

Three of the stations involve a game of some kind.  At our winter party we played Don't Eat Rudolph, a variation of Don't Eat Pete,  Holiday Bingo, and a Holiday Hedbanz/Guessing Game.  My parent volunteers are each assigned one of these stations and run the same station throughout the entire party. 

A few of my kids had never played Hedbanz before, so we made sure to play it during brain breaks the week of the party.

Two of the stations are a bit calmer and can run without any help, which is great if you don't have a lot of extra help at your party.  

My kids LOVE word searches and we never ever get to do them, so we always have a word search.  

We also do a simple craft. For this party, my students decorated Christmas Tree Magic Scratch Ornaments. I got them from Oriental Trading

The rotations take about thirty minutes, give or take, and then we end things with some snacks and a movie. 

The parents typically man a little buffet for our snacks at our back table and allow students to go table by table.  I don't go crazy on the snacks because for many years, the kids were throwing SO much food away.  I let the kids pick what they want and there is usually very little food left at the end of the party.  I typically have a least one student with a peanut allergy, so we usually stick to Oreos, Rice Krispie Treats, pretzels, and fruit snacks.  This year I have a student with an egg/diary allergy and he just brings his own snack pack to the party and keeps his own game boards/coutners for any games involving food in his party bag.

While my students eat their snacks and enjoy the movie, the parents and I clean up the stations.  I also send home the leftover cookies, fruit snacks, pretzels, etc. with the students who sent them in to avoid cluttering up my cabinets/counters. The movie gives my students a chance to calm down and we can go to the buses safely and calmly. 

To keep things even less stressful on party day, I put the items needed for each station in plastic tubs as they come in.  I have a tub for each station and this allows us to begin our party as soon as our parent helpers show up. 

I use Signup Genius  for our party donations and volunteers.  It takes minutes to create a sign up and I love how I don't have to coordinate who is sending in items, the website does it for me.  I send the link out to my homeroom parents in an email and usually within a DAY, everything is taken care off.  The website also sends parents an email about their donation/volunteer time a few days before.  

Even though our Christmas/Winter Parties are over, hopefully you found something helpful/useful for your future class parties.  We use the same set up at every party and it always works out great, even with my most challenging classes!

I also just wanted to let you know that my store will be on sale today and tomorrow to celebrate the New Year! You can check out Fourth and Ten on TpT {here}.

Happy New Year!


  1. Love all your organization! We also do our parties in rotations and it makes it soooo much better! This year, we had some parents in charge and we're going back to planning the party our way next year :) Love the idea to have all the tubs ready to go as well. So smart and easy!

    Happy New Year!!
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