Showing posts with label Parties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parties. Show all posts

Sep 19, 2011

Halloween Alternatives for Christian Families

I know many of you don't celebrate Halloween, and it might seem a bit early to start talking about autumn holidays, anyway...but stick with me for a moment. If you have qualms about having your kids involved in a celebration that, historically, is evil, or if you'd just like a safer way for your children to have fun on Halloween, this post is for you.

If you were allowed to celebrate Halloween as a child, you probably remember the costumes and candy with great pleasure. I certainly do. That's why my goal is to allow my kids to enjoy the fun things we associate with Halloween without actually dabbling into the dark day.

The traditional way to deal with this is to have a "harvest party" at a different time in October or early November. My sister in law does this with her four children with great success, through a local school. But there's no reason a single parent - or a church - couldn't follow suit. All it takes is a little planning.

First, determine whether the party will be for the entire community (a great opportunity for churches!) or for a small group of friends. Obviously if the entire community is invited, you'll need a large space, like a school gym or part of a church. If only friends are invited, you own house will probably work fine.

Next, alert parents ahead of time. Verbally explaining your plans a month in advance is ideal; follow this up with electronic or snail mail invitations two weeks ahead of time. You want parents to be able to prepare costumes ahead of Halloween (or hang onto them after Halloween). If the event is for the entire community, give flyers to all the local schools, put posters up around town, and get the event listed in the local newspaper. If churches in your area sometimes hold so-called "Christian haunted houses," you'll want to make it clear this is not what your event is about. Make sure parents know this is just a safe place for children to play games and get a little candy.

If the event is for the community, or a large group, make the "entrance fee" one bag of candy. For safety, this should be a store bought bag of candy; be sure to make the size of the bag clear to parents. You will accept the candy at the door and either divide it among all the children later in the party, or use it for prizes for the kids.

The location should be decorated in autumn-ish ways. Think of hay bales, corn stalks, scarecrow, squash and pumpkins, and orange and yellow streamers and balloons. Avoid decorations strictly related to Halloween, like ghosts, witches, and jack-o-lanterns.

Then make the party all about games: Guessing the number of jelly beans in a jar, cake walks, bean bag tosses, and other carnival games. Do a ring toss, using the stems of pumpkins as the "stakes" for the rings, use empty water bottles and a round gourd to bowl, see who can put together a scarecrow the quickest. Ideally, every child gets a prize, whether he wins the game or not. Because you want the kids to get as much candy as if they were trick or treating, consider giving candy as the main prize.

Serve food, if you like - simple and popular kid fare like hot dogs and chips. Or choose aumtumnish foods like apples, roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin bread.

Fun, silliness, costumes, and candy. That's a harvest party any kid would love.

Do you or your church ever host a harvest party? Share some of your best tips or ideas, please!

Mar 21, 2011

Throw a Spring Party

Spring is officially sprung - even if you still have snow on the ground. And whether you're eagerly anticipating the first daffodils or are reveling in an abundance of spring blooms, now is a great time to host a party to break the winter doldrums. Hold the party with just your own family, or invite your children's friends. Either way, a spring party is easy to create and lots of fun for everyone.

Invitations:

Even if you're only inviting family, many kids enjoy making invitations. Try some easy butterfly invitations or try this more elaborate flower invitation. These ladybug invites from Simplicity Street are also cute. For something more boy-friendly, these frog invitations from Moxie are sure to please.

Food:


Make a caterpillar from cupcakes. Or make an easy butterfly cake. (Really wow your kids by making the inside of the butterfly in the shades of the rainbow.) Or try a frog cake. More mature kids may prefer a flower pot cake decorated with faux or edible flowers.

Serve a veggie and fruit platter using in season produce, like carrots, kiwi, peas, and strawberries.

Make simple ladybug cookies by tinting some white frosting with red food coloring. Spread this on round cookies, leaving a channel (reaching from one end of the cookie to nearly the other end - and representing the space between the bug's wings). Use chocolate chips to make the dots and dark brown head of the ladybug. Or, if you're good with piping, make them like this.

Another oldie but goodie is "Ants on a Log." Cut some celery sticks and spread some cream cheese or peanut butter inside them, then place raisins - in a row - on the cream cheese.

Serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shaped like flowers. Use a cookie cutter to cut bread into flower shapes. Use a bottle cap to cut a hole in one piece of bread, in the center. Spread peanut butter and jelly on a piece of bread without a center hole, then place a piece with a center hole on top.

Offer punch from a watering can (brand new and well washed, of course). Or put ginger ale or Sprite in the watering can and make ice cubes from cranberry juice. Fill the childrens' cups with ginger ale, then drop in the ice cubes while they are watching. They will fizz, making bubbly pink drinks.

Make a lollipop bouquet, like this one at GiftTree, by filling a pretty flower pot with jelly beans, then sticking lollipops in many different colors into the pot. To make them look more like flowers, you can make paper leaves and tape them to the lollipop sticks. Allow each child to take one lollipop home as a party favor.

Party Wear:

Girls will enjoy having spring-like tea hats. Here are simple instructions for hats the kids can help make from a paper plate. Or try more sophisticated ones from newspaper by Maya Made.

Decorations:

Decorate with plenty of flowers cut fresh from the garden is best. Place them in Mason jars or tin cans. Or make paper flowers like these or these.

Make butterfly place mats by folding construction paper in half, then drawing half a butterfly's body and one side of its wings. Cut it out. When it's opened, you'll have a whole butterfly the kids can color or decorate with stickers.

Use ordinary, solid-colored plates (paper or otherwise) but make them fancy by setting doilies over them.

Activities:

Plant quick growing seeds (like beans) in small pots for the children to take home and watch grow.

Hold a bug race. Give each child a cup and let him or her dig up a worm. Lay a piece of cardboard on the ground with a starting and finishing line painted on it. Have the each child put a worm at the starting line, then let the critters "race." The first worm to cross the finish line wins. This game also works well with snails.

Treasure hunts are also a huge favorite. Leave written clues in various locations around the yard or house; each clue should lead the children to a new clue, until they find the treasure - a bag of goodies for everyone.

Make bug eyes. Give each child an inexpensive pair of plain black sunglasses, then set them loose with pipe cleaners, googly eyes, construction paper, and glue dots.
Have you ever held a spring party? Do you have tips for the rest of us?