Stress Free Holiday Party

Inexpensive and FUN ideas for a stress-free classroom party!

Holiday parties can be stressful for teachers - there's little time (or money!) and it can seem like planning a classroom party is just one more straw on the camel's back! I struggled with parties for a while, and then finally came upon a way to make them as stress-free as possible for myself! Here's what I did to plan a fun classroom party that didn't break the bank or leave me frazzled:

Before the party:
I bought a holiday pack of Solo cups that contained green, red, silver and gold cups. I arranged them on a tri-fold board in the shape of a Christmas tree and glued them in place with a hot glue gun.  

I filled them with little goodies - like holiday ducks from Oriental Trading, toy cars, holiday stampers, bubbles etc. I buy these on sale throughout the year, or at after-Christmas sales in January! I make sure to have more cups and prizes than I have students, just in case of any last minute additions to the class and to ensure that everyone gets a choice of which cup to open.

I traced the top of the cup on red, green and brown butcher paper, cut the circles out and used a hot glue gun to secure the paper "lids" to the cups. For the silver cup at the very top of the tree, I spray painted a piece of white butcher paper silver, let it dry and then cut out a circle. 

I used our very limited selection of holiday die cuts to cut out some decorations for the board, as well as a title and used a glue stick to put them in place. The children were so excited by this, and couldn't wait for our party to start to see what it was all about. 

I also prepped our Pin The Nose on the Snowman game. It came with only 9 carrots, and I have 20 students, so I just traced one of the carrots on orange paper and cut out some extra ones. I labeled each with a child's name, and put them in a bucket to draw randomly to see who would be next. 

I taped the snowman to our dry erase board with masking tape - it came right off after the party so I could fold it up to use again next year!

I had each child wear the blindfold that came with the game, and spun them 6 times before guiding them to walk forward towards the board. They had so much fun watching each other and giggling at the silly placement of the carrots. I didn't have a prize for the "winner", and that was okay because the whole point was to have fun playing the game with our friends!

On our back wall, I taped up some black butcher paper and used chalk markers to decorate it. I then added a $1.97 photo booth kit from Walmart. It came with a background poster and a set of photo props. Here you can see how our elf, Nick, used the photo booth the next day:

During the party:
 I had students come up and pick their props and pose with their friends. I will be sending these pictures to their families over Christmas break (using the Remind app)!

After Pin the Nose on the Snowman, we settled at our tables to make a foam Gingerbread craft kit from Oriental Trading. This was great because it gave the kids something to do as I took pictures at the photo booth. It was super easy for them to peel and stick the pieces on, and they came out so unique even though they had the same pieces! 

Each child was able to take their gingerbread person home at the end of the party too! 

After the craft was finished and the little pieces of backing paper picked up, I called everyone back to the carpet for some dancing! Here are some of the videos we did:

After getting our wiggles out, it was time to head back to our tables for our treat:

Our elf, Nick, chose to bring us some Gingerbread cookies that day, to cap off our Gingerbread Theme (we read and compared so many versions!). Each child got a few gingerbread cookies to munch on while we played the Pick a Prize game:

I drew random names and had my students come up to break through the paper and grab their prize. They LOVED it! Everyone was thrilled with the little toy they got, and it was totally worth the time I spent making the board. Plus, I can throw the board in the closet and use it again next year, cutting my prep time to just cutting out the circles and gluing them on the cups! 

Games, an easy craft and some dancing! The recipe for a stress-free classroom party! And the best part was that I spent less than $30 for everything, most of which can be reused next year! I didn't have to order pizza or collect money or even organize parent volunteers since everything was so simple! Hopefully this helps you plan your next holiday party!

FREE Gingerbread Activity and Ideas

Easy Gingerbread Man Activities

We have been enjoying all things Gingerbread lately - from multiple different versions of the story (see this post for a comprehensive look at all the different Gingerbread stories we read and compare/contrast!), to a ton of fun crafts from Oriental Trading. OT was kind enough to send me a few items to try out in my classroom, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

We were part of a Gingerbread Exchange and sent these cuties to Maine to our partner class:

These Silly Gingerbread Magnet crafts were super easy for the kids to make - although I did use a glue gun to adhere the magnets to make sure they would stay since they were being shipped. Honestly, I could have used a template and had the kids make their gingerbread out of construction paper etc., but I was way short on time! This craft took about 15 minutes from beginning to end, required no prep and very little clean up. Best of all, I didn't have to wait for them to dry before mailing lol!

We've made pattern bracelets using these cool Gingerbread themed beads and chenille stems:

 They thread onto the chenille stems so easily! My only qualm about these is that there are way more "candy" pieces than gingerbread men, but I just told my students they could only have 1 gingerbread bead per bracelet and it was all good! This is a great fine motor activity!

Today we wrote about which version of the gingerbread man story was our favorite and then made these cute hallway display Gingerbread peekers:

Again, super easy for the kids to put together, and an easy-peasy writing display for me to hang in the hallway! We have so many activities this week. including Ornament Night tomorrow where the families will be coming to make ornaments and have hot cocoa and cookies. I had to have fabulous, seasonal displays for the hallway, without a lot of time or money spent on them, and these will look fantastic in the hallway, only took 20 minutes to put together, and will showcase our writing skills - it's a win all the way around!
The sweetie on the right used her brown "hand" piece as her nose, but its all good, the pack has enough extra pieces that these "oops" moments are just fine! 

Oh and these stickers are heading to Writing Center to encourage some story telling - I can't wait to read their sticker stories!

Finally, check out these adorable gingerbread erasers!
Not only can my kids sort and pattern with them (I added a set of them to our Math Boxes) but I also made these super cute (and free!) ten frames mats and cards to go with them!

You can grab them for free by visiting my TPT store here!

Now I'm off to prep for our Christmas party which falls on Thursday - the same day my 3 year old has his Christmas program! This means we will have to have the fastest clean up in the history of Christmas parties everywhere in order for me to make it to his day care on time. Which means more activities and fewer sticky, sugary treats! Of course Oriental Trading is helping out with that too - just check out their Pin The Nose on the Snowman game!

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