IDEAS FOR THRIFTY CHRISTMAS FUN FOR KIDS
You don’t need to offer frankincense, myrrh or gold to give the gift of a great Christmas party for children this year. Choosing kid-favorite activities and using low-cost items you might already have around the house, you can create a holiday party that will impress both youngsters and their parents with your creativity and snowy spirit.
PUT ON A PLAY
Choose a fun Christmas play and assign the roles in advance. Ask children to bring their own costumes and review (but not memorize) their lines before the party. Provide the items needed to let kids create their own stage, props and sets about an hour or so before parents arrive to watch the play. Give each child a copy of the script to read to make it easier for them to have fun and get into their roles.
Let kids make decorations for their rooms, trees and classrooms using inexpensive items you have around the house or purchase cheap at a dollar store. Teach kids how to make cutout snowflakes and origami swans. Email your family, friends and co-workers as far in advance as possible and ask them to save their gum wrappers so you can make Christmas tree chains. Let kids make cotton ball Santa’s beards and popsicle stick figures of their favorite holiday characters.
Teach kids how to bake from scratch or using prepared cookie dough. Have plenty of food items kids can use to decorate the tops of their cookies and provide a number of metal cookie molds or plastic cookie cutters to make fun shapes. Teach kids how to read and follow baking directions, use a stove and use different kitchen appliances and utensils. Find out in advance if any of the children have any food allergies (including nuts, soy, milk or gluten). This cookie set comes with a baking sheet and 22 cookie cutters for under $10!
Help kids learn the art of gift wrapping, letting them practice on a variety of empty boxes. In addition to traditional wrapping paper you pick up at a dollar store, have fun with the Sunday comics. Teach kids how to properly pack gifts in a box, such as clothing or other packaged goods, including how to fold clothes and use crumpled newspaper, foam peanuts and bubble wrap to secure items. Have them cover some of the wrapped gifts in cut-up brown paper bags for mailing, and explain how shipping gifts to friends and family members in other cities works (including how to address packages).
Let kids make their own Christmas stockings, or if they already have one, make stockings for teachers, friends or pets. If you have a senior center nearby, contact the director and ask if she’d like your kids to make stockings for seniors and make a visit to present them. You might get an offer of a free party, complete with gifts and treats, in exchange for the visit and caroling.
Instead of taking kids to an expensive concert, have them give their own. Gather kids for snacks and drinks and teach them a variety of Christmas carols they will soon be singing for neighbors or seniors at a nearby assisted living facility. Print lyrics sheets from the Internet to make learning each song quicker. Find out if anyone can sing harmony to improve the sound of your Christmas choir. Make sure you plan how you’ll transport kids and let other parents know if their kids will be outside in the cold and for how long, so they’ll send them dressed warmly. Have extra gloves, hats and jackets ready for kids who might not have enough warm items.
Teach children how to write, address and mail letters or Christmas cards to Santa, friend or relatives they haven’t seen for a while, or service men and women stationed overseas. In addition to cards or letters, you can help the kids create small goody packages for military members. These don’t have to contain lots of store-bought items – it’s the thought that counts when men and women are serving and away from home during the holidays.
This article was written by Sam Ashe-Edmunds, contributor for The Daily Clutch.