I’m looking out the window at about 10″ of fresh new snow- beautiful, but being stuck inside is getting tiresome.
But the beauty makes me think of the old fashioned paper snowflakes we used to make with thin paper and scissors. These are still a good birthday party crafts activity for kids in early elementary school, say age 6 to 8, who can use scissors pretty well.
Like everything these days, there are explicit instructions for making these snowflakes on the web. This website has 8 different templates you can use with the kids. You’ll just need to provide enough good scissors and the thin paper: it can be origami paper or tissue paper, and I’d recommend sticking with white, but that’s your choice. Perhaps you can borrow some scissors to get enough without buying them all. I’d recommend making a few snowflakes ahead of time to show the kids what they’ll be making, and to demonstrate how to do it for them.
You can provide crayons, markers, or glitter for them to decorate their creations. If it’s holiday season, provide string and protective spray to turn the flakes into Christmas tree decorations. If it’s not, help the kids turn their creations into coasters to take home. Just cut squares of corrugated cardboard from old boxes, get clear contact paper and clear packing tape to secure the sides. Colored paper, i.e. construction paper, cut to size underneath the white snowflake will make it stand out.
Have each child make 4 or 6 snowflakes and mount each on a different color paper for a set of 4 or 6 coasters to take home and use. Now you’ve got your birthday party favors as well as a craft activity that keeps them busy for a while! Of course, these snowflakes and/or snowflake coasters also make a good kids activity when you’re snowed in.
Perfect for your slumber or outdoor camping party, have your young guests explore the night sky. It’s been fascinating people for centuries, and it still does when we help them see.
Even in winter, a 1/2 hour or so walking outside looking up and really observing is a great ‘settle down’ activity for a slumber party.
Either request everyone to bring any binoculars they have at home to your party or round some up from friends and relatives ahead of time. If you can get your hands on a telescope or two, that’s a super addition to the binocs, but not a replacement- have as many of both as you can get.
A big coffee table art book of constellations from the library will give the kids a reference point. You can help out ahead of time by marking with stickies the pages for the constellations they are likely to see in your local night sky. Print out constellation diagrams such as you’ll find at stardate.org for the kids to take with them outside to help them find the constellations. Turn it into a game- who can find “X” constellation first and point it out to everybody else.
Take it all a step further and do a little research yourself before the party and WOW them with some fun facts- how far away the North Star is and how long it would take to get there; what are falling stars and does anybody see any, how to tell the difference between a planet and a star, what planet can you sometimes see in the night sky.
Games don’t need to be mindless- learning really is fun and the sooner our kids figure that out the better off they’ll be. Keep it light and interesting and not too lengthy and a little learning disguised as a game can be a great addition to your party.
Decorate with what you’ve already got instead of spending more money on stuff you’ll rarely use. And those holiday lights you’ve got in the attic might be just the thing for your party.
Obviously, if your party is in the evening when it’s dark, stringing up lights make perfect sense. If you’re inside, draw the blinds so the lights show up better during the daylight hours. For an inside party, you can use the 3M tacky tape that’s easy on your paint to attach the lights up at the ceiling.
Incorporate the lights into your theme with additions added to the light strings- just being careful to keep all flammable materials far enough away from the lights. For example,
- Add homemade paper lanterns as in the picture for your luau party
- Add black jolly roger flags (paper ones are just fine) to an all white light string for your pirate party
- Tie on tissue paper flowers to dangle from your light string for a tea party or any ‘girlie’ party theme
- Add in small, double sided paper crowns cut out of sparkly or gold paper for your princess party
- Make and tie on snowflake cut-outs for your winter party theme
- Gold and silver or colorful shiny stars (double sided and different sizes) hanging from the light strings will be a great addition for any teen party
- Tie colorful balloons onto the light string- and they needn’t be helium if tied on close to the string.
- Double sided print-outs of baseballs or bastketballs or soccerballs can be tied on for your sports themed party
- Double sided print-outs of animals can be tied on for your safari jungle party
Kids being kids, if you’ve got blinker lights, it’s probably all the better.
Kids being kids, they’re not there to critique your decorations. Your decorations are there to get the kids in the party frame of mind so they have fun and participate in all the good activities you have for them. Fun lighting using what you’ve probably already got will do just that. K.I.S.S. – keep your decorations simple and you’ll be more relaxed come party time.
Most parent’s reaction to a winter birthday is to throw up their hands at the thought of having all those kids inside for a few hours, making a mess. Or bemoan how lucky other parents are- whose kids have summer birthdays where everything can be outside.
For your winter birthday party ideas, it’s time to think outside the box (house). Back before our kids spent 50 hours a week exercising their thumbs on their various electronic devices, kids were outside playing in the snow for generations. If you’re lucky enough to live where you have consistent snow, use it to make a great outdoor party.
Have an old-fashioned party with snowball fights, snow forts, sledding, angel making, a snow men contest, relay races through the snow (not so easy). See how one Minnesota mom (where it’s really cold) had a very successful snow party. And talk about saving money? This party is a real winner on that score.
Just like a summer party where you need a backup date in case it rains, schedule your snow party with an alternative date if it’s too cold or windy. An afternoon party right after school might be the easiest-it’s warmer then than at night, and potentially easier to reschedule for the following week if you get terrible weather.
Warm hot chocolate, some with peppermint and other fun flavors, is an obvious accompaniment. Popcorn fresh off the stove and warm on the fingers sounds good too. Make a game of it: have them dig around outside in the snow to find some sticks that they can use to make s’mores in your fireplace when they come in to get warm. Or, if you’ve got the energy and the space, dig out your fire pit and make your fire outdoors for your s’more making. Now that’s something they’ve never done before mid-winter!
Make sure your invitation makes it clear what your planned activities are and specifically requests everyone to come dressed appropriately. A suggestion to bring extra socks and mittens should ensure that they all comply. I’m seeing a real cute clipart snowman with a big scarf and warm hat on that invitation.