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Usher In Spring With An After-School Party!

As the school year continues to fly by for me, I know that it isn’t quite the same for my son.  The bus ride is no longer a novelty; it is a way home and apparently not high on the “fun” list anymore.  I decided to mix up the routine a bit and offer a bit of cheer in celebration of the warmer weather we are having here in the South lately.  We’re having a Spring Fling Snack Party!

The bus stop is literally at the end of our driveway, and about a dozen or so neighborhood kids disembark at our stop.  Our plan is to set up a picnic table on the driveway, loaded with juice boxes, fruit and other healthy snacks.  Kids will have the chance to grab a snack and even stay for a bit to shoot some hoops, play with sidewalk chalk or throw a Frisbee.

Some important points to remember about this kind of mini-party is to notify parents ahead of time, even if just a day or so in advance.  No one wants to be waiting on the porch for a child who ends up staying for 20 minutes to play.  It is also a chance to gather neighborhood parents together to get to know each other and network.  Allow siblings who might not be in school yet the opportunity to come and play as well.  And, don’t forget – many kids will still have homework and other commitments after school, so keep the gathering brief.

Birthday Idea!

My older son is a sports fanatic.  He’d rather pick up a ball (basketball, baseball, football, soccer ball…) over anything – including FOOD – most any day.  Give that boy a ball and a big grassy area and he’s in heaven.  So, it only stands to reason that those are the things that he should have for his 10th birthday this year.  Thus, the tailgate birthday party is born!

For my son’s birthday this year, we are decorating our family vehicle with window paint and markers, much like the high school kids in town do for a football game.  We have permission to use our church’s multi-use sports field, and all of our guests are meeting there.  We are grilling in the parking lot (hamburgers and hot dogs), serving up root beer in the bottles (complete with koozies that we are personalizing for the occasion), and then the kids will play some ball in the field for entertainment.

An additional idea for this type of party is to plan it around a local high school’s sporting event.  Depending on the time of year, most schools offer some sort of sport during the school calendar.  Purchase tickets to the game, and tailgate in the parking lot beforehand.  Then, watch the game or event and cheer on the local team!  It is a fun and economical way to celebrate with your little sports fan!

Fun Warm-Weather Activity – Rise and Shine Party!

With warmer days approaching, start thinking outside the box for ways to encourage some connections among the neighborhood brood.  Oftentimes, when the weather is chilly and the days are short, we lose touch with those that we spend endless summer nights chasing around the front yard and riding bikes up and down the block.  So, get everyone together for a Rise-and-Shine party!

The party idea is simple: gather the neighbor kids and their families together for an early-morning delight.  Host it outdoors if the weather is warm.  Dress is casual, and pajamas are welcome.  Serve up bagels, fruit, milk and juice, muffins, cereals and even donuts and coffee for the grown ups.  The key is to keep it simple and low-key.  Many people may be on their way to sports events or work, so make it easy on those folks as well.

Invitations can be anything from an electronic (email) message or a printed card.  Be sure to invite children and adults for adequate supervision and a chance to catch up with some big-people, too.  As the host, try to set as much of it up the night before.

In one neighborhood, as the year went on, families took turns hosting the Rise and Shine party each weekend.  It is a great way to connect with neighbors and reinforce good relations with the children!

New Year’s Traditions

With little kids, staying up until the official New Year begins is out of the question.  So, we improvise and throw a bit of a New Year’s celebration just for them!  Here are some ideas to try out this year…add your own as well!

  • Our favorite is to set our clocks three hours ahead.  The kids get the sensation of midnight without it actually BEING midnight.  We blow horns, throw streamers, cheer and dance.  Then, it is time to head off to bed while it is still actually a reasonable hour!
  • Serve up kid-friendly snacks for that New Year’s eve bash.  Pinwheels are easy to make and yummy for kids.  Simply roll your favorites in a tortilla, slice and serve.  We’ve had peanut butter and jelly pinwheels, cream cheese and ham pinwheels, and frosting with sprinkles pinwheels – let your kids help prepare them, too!
  • Another great snack for New Year’s eve is pigs in a blanket.  Roll Little Smokies sausages up in crescent rolls for a yummy surprise. 
  • We pull out our goblets for the kids to use on New Year’s eve as well, although last year we avoided near-disaster by using plastic ones for the first time…it was a good thing, too, because they wanted to toast the New Year with the “clink” of the glasses!  Serve up sparkling grape juice or the like for those little revelers.
  • We take a family picture on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  It is a great scrapbook opportunity to usher in the new year in photographs!
  • Our older son, now 9, invites a friend to come and spend the night with us.  The more the merrier, and we all have a wonderful time.  Two years ago, we had the other child’s entire family stay with us until after “faux-midnight” to celebrate. 

What are some of your ways to celebrate with kids?  Leave a comment and share!

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