Perfect Classroom Parties in 8 easy steps:
- If possible pick a Friday afternoon, so that you can get the kids all sugared up and then send them home to their parents.
- Sign-Up Genius is your BFF. No need to buy all the supplies yourself. Instead, make a list of everything you need, and send an email to the class list. (If you don’t have a class list, ask your child’s teacher to send out the link to your sign up). Be sure to ask for easy donations like plates, cups, and napkins, as well as for the harder-to-source stuff. If you are super picky about a specific item, just bring it yourself. (I did an adorable fox craft with my daughter’s kindergarten at her class harvest party, and I made sure to bring my own brown nose pom-poms, for example). Make sure you ask for parent helpers on your sign-up list—you’d be surprised how many parents have an hour or so to donate if you let them know in advance. It is also a nice idea to ask for extra classroom supplies that the teacher needs when people are already in the sign-up mood—just add on some Ziploc bags or wipes or boxes of Goldfish—whatever your teacher needs.
- Plan on a game or seven. I LOVE minute-to-win-it games for just about every age group. Some particular favorites are those that involve candy. Kids adore stacking candy corn pieces or conversation hearts, using chopsticks to put a pile of candy in a bowl, using straws to suction candy into a bowl or blow it across a desk, opening Hershey’s Kisses with dollar-store stretchy mitten on their hands, etc. The silly game where every kid puts a cookie on their forehead and tries to put it in their mouth without using their hands is really fun, too, and I have had great success with seasonally-themed Bingo games. My oldest had a teacher who did bubble-gum-bubble-blowing and water-melon-seed-spitting contests at the end of the year, and the kids adored it.
- Plan on a craft. I have made zombie popcorn hands, marshmallow snowmen, clementine jack-o-lanterns, “gingerbread” houses, Valentine bags, thankful tree teacher gifts, ghost bananas, caregiver Valentines, and coffee filter butterflies. Kids love the process, and they are so proud to either eat their creations or take them home. At least once a year, I also bake sugar cookies and have the kids decorate them. This works well for any season. You can do maple leaves and pumpkins for the fall; snowflakes and snowmen for the winter, hearts for Valentine’s day, and flowers in the spring. Tie-dyeing is a really fun end-of-year activity, but you have to plan in advance to secure t-shirt donations. You should make your craft ahead of time so the kids see an example, and it is a good idea to cut out any small pieces that are too hard for the kids to do on their own and assemble little craft packets for each student ahead of time so that the craft runs smoothly when you demo it for scads of squirmy kids.
- Plan on a snack. Be really specific on your sign-up sheet about what you want parents to bring. If you are planning on a candy or sweet-centered game or craft, encourage healthy snack donations. It’s a great time to serve fresh fruit or veggies because parents send stuff in the day of the party, so kids can have access to healthy foods in their classrooms, which can be a rarity. Don’t forget a drink! (I love to bake seasonally themed food even though I am fairly terrible at decorating it, so I always put the item I want to make on my sign-up and then sign up for it first thing, but I am really type-A like that).
- Make sure to have baggies on hand so kids can take home their extra snacks or treats that they didn’t have time to eat. Little kids LOVE to-go bags. I have no idea why.
- As long as it’s OK with your teacher, open up the party to parents with siblings in tow. Sometimes parents think twice about volunteering in the classroom when they have to bring siblings along, so do your best to make everyone feel welcome. Siblings will probably want to participate in the fun, so count them in your calculations when you ask for supplies.
- Bring a book to read during clean up. After snack, which you should do last, read the kids a book while your party helpers do a final clean-up of the room. This helps the kids wind down, ensures the teacher is not left with a mess on their hands, and helps ease the transition from party to dismissal.
There you have it—a practically fool-proof plan for rockin’ elementary school class parties. Happy room-parenting!