3 tips to throw the perfect class party | school holiday party inspiration

After 10 years in the classroom, Natalie knows a thing or two about class parties. Listen to these hilarious horror stories as she shares tips for the perfect class party. Perfect if you’re planning a class party or just want to laugh at her mistakes.

3 tips to throw the perfect class party | school holiday party inspiration
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

Transcript:the kids are crying. They're like, my gingerbread house, my gingerbread house!

And I'm like, get on the bus! Get on the bus! oh, my poor babies. Never again. Just take it from me.

Class parties. I think I'm supposed to sit here and tell you that I look back fondly on class parties, but I do not. Class parties are these things that happen in elementary schools and really across all grade levels, a time to celebrate something, some sort of break happening, or a celebration of the students, or perhaps some sort of holiday that some but not all of your students celebrate.

It's a time to Stop everything become a party planner and chaos organizer. As a kid, I lived for a class party, I loved that planning session that you had before the class party where it was like, who's bringing in something sweet?

Who's bringing in napkins? And like, as a fourth grader, you are answering for your parent what you are responsible for bringing, you have no idea of what your parents are budget or time to go grocery shopping is, but you are going to commit to bringing the cupcakes because you know and believe and think that your mom is going to deliver on that.

yeah, I lived, I lived for a class party back then. And then at some point I became a teacher and multiple times of year, I got to coordinate a class party, organize a class party with parent volunteers, or make a class party happen out of thin air because I completely forgot that we probably need to have a class party.

The goal of my video is to share some of the worst things that have happened in class parties. And I hope you can laugh along the way with me as I tell you all the things not to do when you're planning a class party.

Now, if we used to work together, if you were a former parent volunteer in my class, and you hear a mistake that you and I experienced together, please don't think I'm making fun of you. I hope you can laugh with me too about this.

I've got three things that you need to keep in mind when you're planning that class party.

The number one thing to avoid is overdoing it. I live by the rule KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. And thank you, I learned that from Chip and Joanna Gaines

when you are walking into a class party, the kids are hyped a lot of times these are on a Friday afternoon or leading up to a nice long break.

Here's the basic format of a party. The kids will come in. Hopefully, you can find a way to get the kids out of the classroom. I often took the kids out for a little extra recess or an extremely long bathroom break to give the room parent volunteers 10 15 minutes to set up quickly.

And that's something you should note. Your set up time could be completely minimal. We're not hanging streamers from the ceilings, but you might have time to put tablecloths out on desks. You want to start with a snack or something calm and social. Let the kids just rest, socialize a little bit, and enjoy something to eat.

I usually ask them to do one small sweet and then something savory and something healthy. And then of course, a drink as well. You always want to ask about those food allergies.

Then a brief activity. We're talking a game.

It could be a craft. This will end up being kind of the meat of the party. at the end, you want to finish with a book to read. A video to watch, a coloring page, and then on top of that, you want to have something for your early finishers, like a word search, a second coloring page, something with hidden pictures, an activity that is, you know, kind of fun, novelty, but they can also completely accomplish by themselves.

You want to pick carefully here based on the age. Hidden pictures is something that, a kindergartner, first, second grader can do. A word search, maybe in kindergarten, but I would ask about that. I would maybe save that till they're older.

A crossword puzzle, I really wouldn't do that until like second, third, fourth grade. You can ask the teacher what they've been exposed to.

When you're planning this, be ready for the internet to go out. Be ready for it to be a rainy day, even though you planned something outside. Be ready for them to finish your activity in 30 seconds, even though you thought it would take 30 minutes.

Be ready for them to never finish the activity think ahead through some of the things that could go wrong or not according to plan. It is very possible in the middle of all of this, the fire alarm is going to go off, and you're going to have to completely cut down the party to a tiny thing.

Don't spend too much money because if something gets cut from your schedule, you don't want to feel like you lost out or somebody volunteered to give this thing and they wasted money on it. I had a room parent once and she was wonderful.

She was all out with these parties. She probably spent 1, 000 on this class party and she got her husband to custom make all these things for the kids to have these larger than life games. She set up these stations it was like a giant ball pit, a human sized pick up sticks game made out of noodles, and a bunch of other activities too.

What ended up happening was, it was... just a mess. The kids didn't understand the directions to the game. It was muddy outside, and they were hitting each other with all the pool noodles, only five kids could fit in the ball pit at a time.

They were all just kind of fighting and trying to squeeze in there at once, and the whole thing just... fell apart. I felt so bad because, you know, you're, it's kind of like watching a train wreck. You can only do so much at once. I don't want to jump in and take away from the party.

Obviously she's supposed to be running it. I'm just in the background, crowd control, making sure kids understand. I felt so bad for that mom. I know she spent so much money and so much time preparing this incredible thing and the entire thing fell apart and was a disaster.

Big, extravagant games and parties with a lot of intricate pieces to them might work at home for a child's party, but a lot of times you have a lot more help there and maybe every parent has stayed behind and can kind of be helping their child through it. At school it's just too much.

You're dealing with so many different levels of ability, so many different temperaments. It's really hard to make something go smoothly if it's over the top.

That leads me into number two. Do not count on student ability.

Part of keeping it simple means taking things down a notch.

Don't pick activities where they're going to be cutting and using scissors until they're at least in first grade, maybe even older. I say this because even though a lot of kindergartners can use scissors, they are still getting used to using scissors. So they are not fast at cutting. They're not very good at cutting intricate shapes.

We're working with a straight line. And you're lucky if you've got a group of kids that are advanced cutters. If you've picked something with really difficult cutting, you're going to end up cutting all these things out yourself. That's just how it's going to be and it's going to take forever and they're going to be calling your name and crying and frustrated.

Make the activity as easy as possible.

Try out the activity with your child, or if you have time, a couple of different children, and watch. If you end up having to help them at all, or say the directions a lot, this might not be the activity for you.

So things to avoid. Avoid anything with beads. Anything where you're lacing and beading things, absolutely not. It will take too long, the beads are all falling off the thing. I've done this, been there, done that, take it from me. Anything that's going to take a really long time to dry. So if you are using like white Elmer's glue, liquid glue, or paint, Stickers that need to have the backs teared off.

You're going to end up peeling every single one of those stickers yourself. No, just don't do it. You want to pick out really familiar activities and then simply change the theme. And this is something you can ask the teacher too, like what are games or styles of worksheets they are familiar with and get the version with the jack o lanterns on it, get the version with the Valentine's Day hearts, and just move from there.

Something that I always kicked myself for, and this is a lesson that I just refused to learn when I was teaching kindergarten, I love to send kids home with a homemade hat. You know that, you have that like sentence paper, and you, you staple it, all the kids go home with their sweet little hat on the bus.

I did it every year. I don't know why I did it every year because it was always chaos. It takes them 10 seconds to color it and 35 minutes to staple all those hats together to measure the correct size for the kids. I know that they looked really cute, but it was just a nightmare. All the kids needed help and it was so time consuming in classrooms.

So if you're looking to do something like that, you're going to want to get a fleet of parent volunteers in and a lot of staplers to get this done.

If you can have like one parent volunteer per table group, that will be ideal because then you've got one adult for a group of four to five kids and they can take care of those people. But if it's just you and the teacher, I would keep it as simple as possible.

So let me tell you the story of the milk carton gingerbread houses. I had a room mom one year. I still see her sometimes. She was doing a holiday party she and her husband thought it'd be really cute to do the, the cafeteria milk carton gingerbread houses.

I'll try and find a picture for you. They used glue to glue graham crackers onto the house and then they had like some frosting to decorate them a project like this can be super cute, but it is not super cute if you're dealing with 25 kids on the day before winter break when they're already hyped up out of their minds. And so what happened was, it took them way longer than we imagined.

and they weren't dry. They really needed a full night to dry. They were falling apart. all the graham crackers were, like, sliding off the milk cartons.

So, all I remember is, it's the moment right before holiday break, and we're cramming. these houses into gallon sized Ziploc bags. So happy I had enough on hand. We're just cramming them and they're falling apart and the graham crackers are breaking and the kids are crying. They're like, my gingerbread house, my gingerbread house!

And I'm like, get on the bus! Get on the bus! Please just leave! Like, you're so sticky! Get out of here! Hopefully nobody has a traumatic memory of that just learn from us, a lot of things that look like super cute activities when you're at home just do not translate to a class full of kids.

Now that I'm done talking to you about the crafts though, let's get into number three. Avoid competitive games. Excitement is just a happy tantrum. And when you're already up here, it doesn't take much for you to hop from excitement to tantrum.

don't give kids a reason to melt down. There is already going to be at least one kid who's crying the whole party. Nothing will have happened to them. They'll just be done. It'll just be too much for them. This even goes for the older kids, too. They might not be crying, but they're gonna be moody, they're gonna be in their feelings about something, and we just can't help that, So there's that one kid, but then you've got a select amount of kids that something's going to set them off. when I was teaching, I would set a secret bet with myself. Who's going to cry first? Who's going to break down? Who's going to be the one that is going to have to sit over with me in the calm down corner?

And it always happened. But what would make it happen faster was if something competitive happened or some sort of prize was given out at the end. Everyone wins. Everyone gets a goodie bag. Everyone gets the same thing.

Just try to make it as homogenous as possible to avoid these tantrums.

I'd like to tell you a funny story about this, but honestly, it's just really frustrating.

I've got one more bonus tip for you. This is going to help the teacher feel really good at the end of this, and this is clean up as much as possible. Most parties are going to fall before a break or on a Friday, a time where teachers don't want to be staying after in their classrooms or be left with a mess.

So either coordinate with the volunteers to be thinking about cleanup throughout the party, or build in time where the kids are helping clean up the party. And if there's extra supplies or food at the end, you can ask the teacher if they want to keep that, but if they say no, please have a plan just to get the extras out of there.

So to wrap it up, keep it simple, consider the ability of your students, avoid competitive games, and try to keep it as clean as you can. I really want to know, what is your story? Have you made a fumble during a class party? Have you seen things fall apart that you did not expect to fall apart? Leave a comment below. Make sure you like this video and subscribe to Primary Focus. My name's Natalie. I'll see you next time.