- Category: Family Event Activities
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- Written by Bryan
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Do any of the following images bring a smile to your face?
Δ Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" playing in the background with the room lights dimmed and candles casting shadows while people mingle about wishing each other holiday cheer.
Δ Couples being caught in the doorway under the mistletoe.
Δ Dads dancing with their daughters to the tune "Rocking around the Christmas Tree".
Δ Families gathered around a piano singing carols.
If any of these thoughts give you a warm feeling, then you definitely want to do this event with your family and friends.
The Christmas Party Event for Families!
If done properly this will become "the Christmas party event" for everyone who attends.
Full disclosure up front... This is not a simple get together. This will require some planning on your part. But it is well worth the effort! While this requires a high level of planning, this does not need to create a high level of stress. If you prioritize your tasks and follow the planning guide, your stress levels should remain relatively low.
There are so many various aspects of this family Christmas event that you can choose some or all of the activities to do. You can also just pick a couple activities and do them with just your family if you do not want to do the whole event.
The best time to plan for this is the beginning of November. Waiting until after Thanksgiving to plan this will create difficulties. This early planning is limited to picking the place to hold the party, listing who to invite, and selecting the date and time. At this point, a simple "save the date" reminder card should be given to each of the families. Again, these details are best handled sometime in November. If you are hosting the party anywhere besides your home, then place the reservation prior to sending the "save the date" reminders.
The next part of planning is to decide how to handle the food and which activities will be done. It is recommended that you ask each family to bring their favorite holiday finger food. Not only will this ease the burden on the host family, but it will also allow each family to actively participate in the event by sharing their own holiday traditions. See the Games & Activities section below for ideas on what to do at the party.
Remember throughout the planning process that the goal is not to display all of your superior holiday recipes or your awesome decorations. This type of focus will lead to a lot of stress and pressure which is the opposite of the intent of this event. The goal is quite simply to get families together to share in the peace and goodwill of the season. Perform as much planning and preparation as early as possible to avoid holiday burnout.
Holidays are the busiest and most scheduled time of the year. It is critical to get on everyone's calendar as soon as you can. Sending a simple one-sided card at the beginning of November with a "Save the Date" message on it will do this. On this card include a brief description of the event with the date and time. Also, ask for RSVP by the first week of December, which will help you to gauge the activities and facilities.
About 3 weeks before the party, send the official invitations with all the details. Be sure to include that they should bring their family's favorite holiday finger food. Ask for an official RSVP in enough time to adjust activities and drinks. Follow up with an email that includes directions and your phone number about 1 week prior to the event.
Games & Activities
Here is a list of some of the games and activities we have used along with excellent printables. It is a good idea to have a few small prizes for the winners of the different games as this will increase participation and get kids excited. Do not be too rigid here. If you try an activity and it doesn't appear to be taking off, simply drop it and move on.
Place both of these activities together on a table near the entryway. Click here for a sheet of printable ballots. Use a shoebox wrapped like a present with a slit in the top to collect the ballots. Be sure not to forget to announce the winners before families start to leave.
Guess the Number Ornaments in Container
Fill up a large clear container with small colorful ornaments. Make sure that there are enough to make it difficult to guess the amount. Using ornaments of varying sizes can help make it more interesting.
Guess the Objects in the Stockings
Take 3 extra large stockings and place a different odd shaped object in each stocking then seal them shut. Simply lay these on the table next to the ornament jar and let individuals write down their guess as to what the objects in the stockings are just by feeling them.
Properly set up and done, this can be the most popular activity of the event. It is best to find a small section to mark off as the dance area. Hang up some blinking Christmas lights around this area. Beyond that there is no need to make it more complicated • just grab a portable CD player or MP3 player with room speakers. Play your favorite old time Christmas albums and be ready to prime the pump by grabbing a few others to join you on the dance area. Once you get it started, everyone usually joins in shortly after especially the kids.
Set aside a small area or pick out some small tables to place some simple table games such as checkers, Connect Four, Othello, etc. Make sure that these are simple games to start that do not take a lot of time to complete. These games will provide something fun for people who may not be as outgoing as others. It will also provide a chance for folks to interact in another fun way.
Once the majority of people have arrived and settled in, pass out the signature sheets along with a pencil for each person. The instructions are on the sheet so everyone can get started as soon as they get their paper and pencil. This is a timed activity so you will need to watch the time and call out when it is time to stop. The person to collect the most initials on their sheet wins. Some of the items require more than one initial so these will count for as many points as initials.
Select several popular carols that everyone will know how to sing, about one song for every four people that will attend. Write the names of the carols on small sheets of paper, one song per piece of paper and each song repeated on four separate pieces of paper. Fold these and place into a basket. Have each person select a piece of paper from the basket and tell them to NOT show their song to anyone else. When you say go, everyone should immediately begin singing and try to find the other people who have the same song. The first group of people to successfully find all the other people with the same song wins. No one is allowed to talk during the game, only singing is allowed.
This is a simple game that most everyone already knows and enjoys. In the printable for this activity, there are 16 distinct bingo boards that can be used. These can be distributed in several ways depending on how many individuals are at the party: a) one board per family that can be worked together if you have 12-16 families or b) one board per parent/child combination. For the person calling the squares out you can use small squares of paper with the symbol/number combinations in a hat that they can grab from. Ping pong balls with corresponding symbol/number combinations drawn on them with permanent marker works excellent.
Wrapping Game 1
Click here for instructions to this version. This game involves getting the same boxed object for each family along with wrapping paper, scissors and tape. The rules are quite simple in that each family must work together to wrap the box and the first family to do this wins. The twist is that each family member can only use one arm the entire time. this is wonderful time and a great exercise in teamwork.
Wrapping Game 2
This game will require a roll of wrapping paper and tape for each family. The winner is the first family to completely wrap one of the family members. The judge must check to be sure that no part of the wrapped person can be seen including toes and hair.
Set Up & Clean Up
Again, it is easy to get distracted with complicated decorations and food. Try to keep in mind the purpose of this event: celebrating the season together with other families. While decorations definitely help to set a festive mood, they cannot remove stress from the event if the host family is overwhelmed. Most likely there will already be a certain amount of holiday decorations displayed around the home. If the event is going to be held in another location, you may want to set up a small tree or Prelit Tree, hang some blinking light strands, and liberally place candles around in safe places.
Food & Drinks
Select an easy-to-get-access place to place the food and drinks. Remember to direct newcomers to this place as they will be bringing food. A common mistake is to not have a table area big enough to handle everyone's dishes. You will be expected to provide drinks. If you are adventurous, try some hot cider or holiday punch.
Ask for Help
It is not inappropriate to ask another close family or two to assist you in setting up and cleaning up. Often you will find that other families, who may not be able to do events like this, see helping others as a chance to give a blessing back.
FINAL NOTE: It has already been mentioned in several places, but it deserves a final mention that this event should not create a large amount of tension. If you find this happening, take a break, sit down and relax while listening to "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole.