If you have ever hosted a large holiday gathering featuring kids as guests, you’ll know they tend to feed off each other’s energies and create chaos. Here are some ideas for helping the kids at your holiday gathering to channel their energies in positive—and occasionally quiet—directions:
Crafts. Have a few age-appropriate, easy table craft projects set up before kids arrive. The key is to make sure the crafts can be done independently or with help only from elder children in the group. Pick crafts with practical applications, such as holiday decorations or this TP-roll winter bird feeder.
Science experiments. It’s a fair bet that not every kid in your group will have an interest in doing crafts. Where crafts fail, science experiments often succeed! For inspiration, check out these recipes for play snow, dissolving candy cane experiment, making frozen bubbles, or this collection of 20+ winter science experiments for kids.
Hunts. Kids need to move, so plan at least a few activities that promote big positive motion. You might organize a candy cane or similar type of hunt. If entertaining during the day, you can send kids outside to collect pinecones, acorns, evergreen branches, and other seasonal items you might use to decorate your home for winter. Offer an incentive prize to the kid who collects the most, but have plenty of consolation prizes to avoid drama and meltdowns!
Group exercise. There’s also a very good chance the kids at your holiday party will consume more sugar than they are accustomed to doing. Soon after you serve dessert, suggest a group walk outside. Or, crank up a contemporary playlist for a 20-30 minute dance party to help the kids—and any willing adults—at your gathering to burn extra energy just as their glucose levels are spiking.
Talent show. Most kids these days participate in a host of extracurricular pursuits—music, dance, martial arts, singing, sports, and so forth—and love to show off their accomplishments. Provide a quite space far removed from the adult party (playroom, basement, etc.) and encourage the kids to collaborate on developing a talent show to put on for the adults. Let parents know in advance in case they need to bring instruments or other items, and provide props such as costumes, microphones, and music clips, and encourage the kids to spend sufficient time planning and rehearsing their show.
Recruit kids into service. Kids love to play in adult roles, such as waiters and waitresses. Use this to your advantage, recruiting them to make place cards and seating arrangements, escort people to their seats, take beverage orders, pass hors d’oeuvres plates, and to help set and clear your table.
Games. Most kids are quite capable of making their own fun in groups. When fights break out—as they are wont to do—organized games are a great way to quickly restore peace and harmony. Provide a distinctive holiday item that the kids can take turns hiding in creative places for others to find while taking ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ directions from people in the know. Or set up a game of indoor snowball toss.
The possibilities are endless. All you need is a little creativity, research, and planning to keep kid-driven chaos to a minimum at your next holiday gathering.