Put a little fa-la-la-la-la into your holidays by hosting a children's caroling party.
To make a musical invitation, photocopy sheet music (preferably a Christmas carol) on white, green, or red paper. Trim and fold in half, making a card that will fit into a standard envelope.
Add a strip of metallic tape (available at craft and hardware stores) to the outside top and bottom of the card. Include a request for children to bring a grab-bag gift no larger than three inches, costing under $1.
Since your home is already dressed for the holidays, additional decorations are not required. You might consider having the guests trim a small children's tree in the party room while waiting for everyone to arrive.
Purchasing ornaments is not necessary. Cookie cutters, paper cutouts, tissue paper bows, ribbons, cookies, and other items lying around the house make wonderful tree decorations. Tie the ornaments to the tree with ribbon, yarn, or pipe cleaners for a special touch.
Cookie Houses: Beautiful, sturdy little cookie houses can be made using purchased butter cookies, icing (see below for instructions), foil-covered cardboard, and holiday candies. Have whole cookies on hand for the foundations, roofs, and the long sides of the houses.
Cut two square house end pieces from whole cookies for every house you plan to make at the party. Just before the party begins, make the icing by beating two egg whites until stiff. Gradually add three cups sifted confectioners' sugar until the icing is of thick spreading consistency.Cover the bowl with a damp cloth to keep the icing from becoming hard.
To construct the houses, children apply icing wherever the cookies meet, and on the sides and roof to attach candies.
Holiday Calendars: Have children put the finishing touches on their own holiday calendars. The materials for this project include white poster board or heavy drawing paper, a craft knife, a second colored paper, and small or tiny stickers for inside the windows.
Choose a shape for the calendar. Cut a calendar front from white poster board and matching backing from colored paper. Determine the number of windows you will need for the calendar and their size.
Cut along three sides of each window with a craft knife on the calendar front piece. Match the calendar front to its backing and trace the window placement onto the backing. Have the calendars finished to this point before the party.
Using art materials you provide (glitter pens, markers, sequins, and stickers), children decorate the front and inside of their holiday calendars. (Remind the children not to stick their windows closed.)
Carefully match the front to the backing and staple together along the edges for a finished project.
Clothespin Ornaments: Paint clothespins white with acrylic or poster paint before the party. Children transform the clothespins into Santas with basic art supplies (markers, white glitter, cotton balls, red felt dots for noses, and glue). The knob on the clothespin becomes the top of Santa's hat, and the side of the clothespin his face.
Caroling: Since caroling is the centerpiece of the party, make an effort to provide a book containing the words of popular Christmas songs. A simple cover illustration, a bell tied to the book with a ribbon, or fancy lettering make the book of carols an item your guests will want to keep. Sing Christmas carols to instrumental accompaniment, to the tunes on a holiday tape or CD, or a cappella.
Surprise Snowballs: After the guests arrive, take their grab-bag gifts into another room and wrap them into surprise balls/snowballs using rolls of white crepe-paper streamers. Pass the surprise snowballs around the circle of guests toward the end of the party.
Donut Chomp Game: A game of donut chomp will liven the mood of any group. To set up this game, hang donuts on strings or ribbons from a clothesline. The donuts should be hanging at the children's face level. The challenge for partygoers is to eat their own donut off the ribbon with no hands!
Mitten Pairs Game: Mitten pairs is a competitive scored hunt, involves the children searching out hidden pairs of mittens and gloves. The game rule is that once you pick up a glove or mitten you cannot pick up another unless it is the match to the one you are holding. Don't forget to check out the other guests' selection.
Seasonal cookies, drinks (hot cider, hot chocolate, holiday punch), and popcorn balls are great snack foods to serve at this party.
What You'll Need:
2-1/2 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla food coloring
Step 1: Pour popcorn into large heat-proof bowl; set aside.
Step 2: Combine corn syrup, water, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Wash down side of pan with pastry brush to remove sugar crystals, frequently dipping brush in hot water.
Step 3: Add candy thermometer. Continue to cook until mixture reaches the hardball stage (255°F). Remove from heat.
Step 4: Whisk in butter and vanilla. Add food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired color is obtained. Immediately pour sugar mixture over popcorn, stirring until completely coated. Spread popcorn on two large baking sheets.
Step 5: Cool slightly and shape in balls or leave as clusters. Makes about three quarts.
Hint: Remove any unpopped kernels before measuring the popped popcorn.
The Christmas carol book, craft project and grab-bag gift are holiday treasures for every guest. Other favor suggestions include a tape of Christmas carols, cool socks, mittens, hats, and other theme products.
For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:
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