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10 Tips for a Successful Holiday Party

Planning a classroom party this holiday season?  It can be hectic and feel overwhelming, but here are a few tips to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

1. Get volunteers

Parents love to help out in the classroom!  This is the perfect opportunity to recruit extra help.  Think about how many volunteers would be helpful for your celebration (without being too many).  What can they assist you with?  Be sure to let them know exactly how you can utilize their help.  The more specific you are, the smoother the day will run.

2. Create a sign-up list for food

I'll share a funny story here.  The first time I had a holiday party in my classroom, I told my second graders to "just bring in food."  Well, they did.  We had SO many snacks, I didn't know what to do with it all!  Seriously, we had enough food for about 75 people and I only had 20 students.  What do you do with 30 bags of chips??

So, don't do what I did.  Send home a family letter with a variety of ideas of what to send in (and size!).  If you have access to technology, set up a google form for parents to sign up for specific items.

3. Don't forget the plates and napkins!

To go along with my previous tip, always, always, ask for plates and napkins.  You don't realize how important they are until you don't have them!

4. Make it simple

When planning games, activities and crafts, keep them simple.  The easier it is for your students and the less materials that you need, the more fun it will be for everyone involved.  You also want to be able to complete everything in the time you allotted for the party.

5. Gather enough materials

And...maybe even a little extra!  When the activities start, you want to be able to be present with the students.  You don't want to be running around searching for more materials.  You know that the glue sticks will dry up, the pencils will break, the glitter will spill.  It happens, so be prepared!

6. Organize materials

Set up those materials in a logical order.  Do students need to come up to a table to gather everything they need for a project?  Put them in order of when they are going to need them.  Will students be at centers?

7. Use visual directions

Visual directions are a HUGE help for any grade level.  I put them up on the white board where everyone can see.  Most students will know to check the board when putting together a project and, if they don't, I can easily point to it without having to go through all the steps multiple times.

I like to use these basic ones:
Want your own copy of these cards (for free)?

If the project is move involved, I'll put additional visuals on the board for them to use.  This example shows how I displayed the steps for creating snowflakes.

8. Provide an independent activity

When I create holiday crafts with my students, I like to work with them in small groups so that I can have more one-on-one time with each child.  It leads to less frustration on their (and my) part, but it is also a great time to have conversations with them.

This requires, however, that I have something for the other students to be working on.  I usually have them work on their calendar gift for their families.  It's fun, doesn't require my help and takes some time for them to complete.

9. Have a back-up (and extra) idea

No matter how prepared you are, something is bound to go wrong.  Or students may complete their project much faster than you planned.  Just like when I am writing lesson plans, I always have a back-up activity.

I have students work on this kindness project that gets students thinking about others.

10. Leave time to clean-up

Always be sure to leave extra time at the end of the party!  This is especially crucial if it is the last day before break.  Oftentimes, we've ended up rushing out the door and students forget their crafts in the classroom.  And, if everyone helps clean up, it takes a lot less time!

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