photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

It’s officially the Holiday Season. To many of us, that means our proverbial plates are about to overflow with all the obligations the season brings. There’s soon to be food to cook, meals to share, parties to plan, gifts to buy and wrap, and friends, classmates and strangers to lend a helping hand.

We’re bringing you helpful suggestions to make your lives easier and to free up some of your time, so you can enjoy what the holidays are really about – having fun and cherishing time spent with your children.

First off, let’s tackle the classroom holiday party! If you’re next in line to bring the snack or treat or lead a project for your child’s classroom holiday party, why not try out some of these ideas to make it simple, non-secular and memorable for all:

  • Stone Soup — There are never too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to Stone Soup. Send in the well-loved book by Marcia Brown for the teacher to read to the class, and ask to assign each child an ingredient to contribute to the class’s very own Stone Soup. It’s best if they can bring veggies and herbs chopped and ready to go. You bring a (carefully scrubbed!) stone – you can buy a river rock from a craft supply store – and mini bowls and spoons for sharing. Obviously, you’ll need access to the school kitchen to simmer your soup, as well as a bit of time to let it cook before serving up their tasty class concoction. Here’s the recipe from the book:

  • Sundae Bar —  Host a yummy spread and a fun time by bringing everything needed for making ice cream sundaes. Shopping list: two gallons of ice cream (more depending on the size of the class), sprinkles, maraschino cherries, fudge and/or other toppings, and whipped cream. Divide and conquer by recruiting other parents to bring bowls, spoons and toppings.
  • Story time — Keep it calm by bringing a seasonal story to read to the class while kids enjoy a treat of cookies and milk. Kids love wearing their PJs to school, so make it a Pajama Party! Need a fun, easy way to serve the treat? Check out this milk and cookies idea from the creator of the blog, Four Men, One Lady.
  • Cookie or Cupcake Decorating —  Buy or make a few dozen sugar cookies or cupcakes, leaving the icing and toppings for the class to decorate with. The store or bakery where you buy the cupcakes will likely have frosting in an assortment of colors you can bring along for the decorating. Don’t forget to also pick up some candy and sprinkles. Teach the meaning of the season by letting kids eat one of their creations and package the rest to take on a class visit to a local nursing home or shelter.
  • Feed the birds — The classic DIY bird feeder project involves peanut butter, a definite no-no in most classrooms due to the prevalence of peanut allergies. Instead, bring a peanut butter substitute like soy butter or honey, pinecones to spread it on, and a bag of birdseed to roll it all in (check that the bird seed doesn’t contain nuts). Tie a piece of yarn around the top of the pinecone to easily hang it from a branch to give the birds a holiday feast of their own. Not so sure you want to deal with that many sticky fingers? Instead, bring pipe cleaners to string with cheerios and popcorn.

One more bit of advice: Don’t go it alone! Bring a trusty sitter to help you streamline the activity. You’ll get props for hosting a successful party, while having a chance to snap a few photos of your little one and his classmates, and join in on the fun. UrbanSitter has no shortage of sitters who would love to join the holiday party!

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