Family Christmas Stations Party
The idea for this family party came from my parents and their friends who did it for us when we were young. Now, we are carrying on the tradition and doing it with our children.
It sounds more complicated than it actually is. If you have everything set up before you start the party, you will be ready and the kids will LOVE IT!
Here’s how it works and how to set it up step-by-step:
1. Invite families. Find about 4-5 other families who would like to do this party with you. A maximum of 12 children works best. Those aged 4+ get the most out of the party.
2. Find a date. This is usually the hardest part!
1. Pick 3 stations. We do cookie decorating, a Christmas craft, and story reading.
2. Assign a few parents to each station. They are responsible for bringing all the necessary supplies for their station. For example, at the cookie station, these parents bring the cookies, icing and sprinkles. The parents who are doing crafts pick an easy craft to make (there are lots of ideas on Pinterest!) that works for multi-ages and a quick time frame. By dividing tasks, it takes a lot of pressure off the host.
3. Set up your house. Pick three places in the house where the stations will be set up. For us, the cookie decorating is on the kitchen table, the Christmas craft is on the dining room table, and the story reading is in the living room.
4. Make goodie bags. The kids will have a lot of things to take home. I make a paper bag with each child’s name on it and set these out on the window sill. When the child finishes the craft or cookies, they can put everything they got into their bag and take it home at the end of the night.
5. Pre-Activity. I have an activity for the kids to do when they first come in the house. This way, the parents can have a few minutes to set up and get ready and the kids are occupied. This is usually a card making activity that requires little supervision.
I put out Christmas stickers, stamps, and markers and let them make their own cards. I set this up in a 4th area (the sun room) just to keep everything separated, and the kids can come back to it later. When they are finished their cards, they go into their paper bags.
6. Set the tables. I set out all the materials needed for each station beforehand. Knives, plates, baggies, wet cloths, etc for the cookie decorating, and basic craft supplies for the craft table.
I also cover the table in brown paper (more later) and then cover that with my craft table cloths for getting messy.
7. Make groups. I divide the kids into three groups. I like to divide up the families, making sure there is a mix of ages, personalities and leaders in each group.
4:00 – Guests arrive. Children go to make their Christmas card pre-activity. Parents set up
4:30 – Divide the children into their groups and send each group to a different station.
We run each station for about 15-20 minutes depending on their attention span. I call out when it is time to change and the children rotate through the various stations: making crafts, decorating cookies, and having a Christmas story read to them in front of the fire.
5:15 – Finish up. Children make sure their crafts/cookies are in their paper bags. We then send the kids to the basement to the rec room to start watching a Christmas movie (usually Arthur Christmas). The parents then clean up the stations and get ready for dinner.
5:30 – Supper! We always have a potluck supper with our party. In the invitation I ask families to Reply All to let us know what they are bringing so we make sure all parts of the meal are covered.
I set up a buffet in the kitchen. The children are called up (pausing their movie) and come to fill their plates. They then go eat in the dining room.
I have now taken off the plastic covering (leaving the brown paper underneath). I put crayons on the table, and while the kids are eating, they can draw on the table!
6:00 – Special Visitor! Our special tradition (that you certainly don’t have to incorporate) is that we have a visit from Santa! One of the moms has a direct connection to a wonderful Santa who comes to our house at 6pm to meet with the children, give them a candy cane and ask them what they want for Christmas. It’s a magical part to our evening!
6:15 – The children return to finish watching the movie. Now, the adults sit and eat in quiet and toast a drink to the holidays and to another successful family stations party!
Although it sounds like a lot of work, with many hands working together, it is not! It’s a fun night that the kids will want to keep doing every year – and then hopefully do with their own children!
If you have any questions on how to run a party like this, send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment below!