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There WILL Be Children: Plan Party Activities To Make Your Holiday Kid-Friendly

Updated on November 16, 2014
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How to enjoy uninterrupted adult time when you plan holiday activities for kids!

You'll get back twice the time you spend preparing fun holiday crafts for the kids when you're having holiday fun with the adults!

  1. Check the ages and number of children that will be present.
  2. Choose one or two of these age-appropriate activities.
  3. Prepare by gathering your materials, and having them at hand.
  4. Make one sample ahead of time, so you can answer any how-to questions, and also demonstrate what the end result should look like.
  5. At the party, sit them down, start them up, or, even better, enlist the help of the oldest child to supervise!
  6. Relax and enjoy your company!

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Oh, Look A Puppy!

Don't forget about things to do for kids at your Christmas party or Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve just invited the extended family over for your holiday party, and amidst your perfect planning, you remember the last family event; interrupted and infiltrated by your inexhaustible, attention-seeking little darlings. Whether they’re your own, the neighbors’, or nieces and nephews, I’m throwing you a life-saver that I’ve used on many occasion. And, by the way, these ideas require minimal preparation and travel easily, so, if you are a guest at your sister or mom’s, I bet they’ll greatly appreciate a gift of kid-corralling, tons more than a bottle of wine! (On second thought, a bottle of wine, and occupied kids go pretty well together.)

Just like my husband's favorite phrase to have all eyes swivel elsewhere--oh look a puppy!--these tried and true, some old, some new, things to do takes the onus off of the grown-ups.

Our goal: a tableful of happily occupied kids in the kitchen, oblivious to the adults visiting in the living room. Because, as you probably already know, our kids have radar; as soon as you want to chat on the phone, here they come. Now multiply that tenfold for adults visiting at a party.

NOTE: I’m also included the sure-fire, clue hunt. They won’t be sitting quietly, but they’ll be super focused and need absolutely no supervision; plus, you can make it last as long as you want by the number of clues you provide. The last time I did this, the kids asked me to make up another, and then another. We basically spent the entire afternoon doing three treasure hunts. They had to hide in the bedroom while I re-hid new clues!

The internet has a bounty of crafts for kids of all Ages.
I found the following projects on some of the better craft activity internet sites. They don't call for anything too hard to find, the directions are clear and, as you can see, the the ideas are very clever. They generously offer free downloads of any templates or directions you need.Click right below the pictures to land right on their sites, where you'll find even more great ideas.

Age Appropriate Activity

Each of the following activities is identified for the appropriate age-group. Keep in mind the pre-schoolers have very short attention spans, and the activity has to be broken down into easy steps. Either have an older child supervise and keep the project going, or plan on showing one step, let them work for about 15 minutes, then show them the next step, etc.

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Toddler's Quiet Time

Holiday Coloring Pages

PREP: Shopping list: Crayons and Coloring Book if you don't use these printable pages.

Are your friends and family arriving with toddlers in tow? You can keep any visiting little ones happily occupied by having a coloring book and crayons close at hand. For some very nice Thanksgiving coloring pages, My Cute Graphics offers free coloring pages for you to print. Click on image source to go to their web site.

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Table Fun for 5 to 8 Year Olds

Meanwhile, At The Holiday Craft Project Table

The following activities are for kids ages five and up and are arranged from the easiest to more difficult. If your little guests are in the five to seven age range, they will need intermittent supervision from you unless you recruit an older child to supervise.

For younger children (4-6), they will need the project broken down, task by task. For example, for the Pine Cone Turkeys, give each child a out a piece of construction paper template and scissors and tell them to cut out the feathers. Let them work on that for as long as they need; when they're done, hand out the pine cones and glue, and show them how to attach the feathers, etc.

Polar Bear Plates (least supervision)

Shopping List: Paper plates, cotton balls, kids scissors, paper, glue.
The Night Before: Have materials gathered and at hand, clear project space. Depending on ages of children and how much time you want spent on the project, you may want to trace; or trace and cut the 'face pieces' for each child ahead of time.

Supervision: Hand out face sheet, explain what to cut out. Tell and show how to glue cotton balls to paper plate. For complete instructions, click on picture source.

Paper Cone Christmas Trees (least supervision)

Shopping List: Construction paper (green), buttons/glitter/gems (buy or find around the house), kids scissors, glue, paper clips.
The Night Before: Have materials gathered and at hand, clear project space. You may want to trace; or trace and cut the tree shape for each child ahead of time.

Supervision: Show the project completed and explain how to decorate their trees. You'll probably have to help glue and paper clip trees into shape. For complete instructions, click on picture source.

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Handprint Wreaths (least supervision)

Shopping List: Construction paper (red, orange, yellow, brown), kids scissors, glue.
The Night Before: Have materials gathered and at hand, clear project space. You may want to trace; or trace and cut the 'wreaths' background for each child ahead of time.

Supervision: Show how to cut hole out of paper plate; may have to help children trace hands. Tell and show how to glue 'hands' to paper 'wreath'. Although the wreath project pictured here, from Lake Shore Learning uses construction paper for the back circle, you can also use paper plates with large holes cut out for the wreath backgrounds. For complete instructions, click on picture source.


Pine Cone Turkey (very cute and easy)

Shopping List: Construction paper, kids scissors, googley eyes or white paper for eyes. (pine cones if you don't have them)
The Night Before: Gather and have materials handy, clear project space. Run enough copies of project sheets for the group OR use project sheet to trace shapes onto construction paper- one per child, OR trace shapes and cut into stencils for children to use.

Supervision: Show the finished project. And demonstrate first task, return to demonstrate each step. For complete instructions click on picture source.

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Pinecone Bird Feeder

Shopping List: Paper plates, birdseed, smooth peanut butter, ribbon, scissors.
The Night Before: You will also need these household items: butter knives, pine cones. Gather and have materials at hand; clear project space. You may want to pre-cut and attach the ribbons to the pine cones.

Supervision: You may want to prepare paper plates of peanut butter before hand (to roll the pine cones in). You will need to break this down into three or four tasks for the little ones. You can include hanging the 'bird feeders' outside when they're done. Spoonful describes how to make a pinecone bird feeder in detail, click on picture source for complete instructions.

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Edible Garland (Super easy!)

Shopping List: Button candy on paper, tape kids scissors.
The Night Before: Gather and have materials handy, clear project space. For the very young, you can cut the button candy into strips for them.

Supervision: Show finished chain and demonstrate making links, step by step. The is the wonderfully simple paper chain with a twist! For complete instructions click on the picture source.


How About the Older Kids

Trendy Fun For Tweens & Teens

The last thing you want to do with this group is risk the all-too-common eye roll. Don't worry; I got this. Here's the latest from my daughter the Nanny. There's all kinds of projects out there that kids are making with duct tape. It comes in all kinds of designs and colors and is fairly inexpensive. I think the double roll is two dollars and change.

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Duct Tape Phone Case

Shopping List: 3M 2 Roll Duct Tape, fabric if you don't have some (optional: Goo Goo Gone to clean scissors)

The Night Before: Have materials gathered and at hand (scissors, ruler and cutting mat if you have one), clear project space. A piece of fabric (6x15" for each child). Tell your guests to bring their cell phones--for sizing. Make sure you can access the instruction link; either print out for them, or plan to let them use the computer if convenient.

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Duct Tape Wallet

Shopping List: 3M 2 Roll Duct Tape (optional: Goo Goo Gone to rub on scissors)

The Night Before: Have materials gathered and at hand (scissors, ruler and cutting mat if you have one), clear project space. They'll also need a library card or credit card for sizing. Make sure you can access the instruction link; either print out for them, or plan to let them use the computer if convenient.

Prep for Fun & Send Them Off!

Everyone Loves A Holiday Hunt!

Shopping List: Candy or party favor gifties, enough for all children.
The Night Before: Prepare clues (write hiding spots on backs, and hide in designated areas); hide treasure in designated area.

From me to you: Click on image source for your downloadable version of my Holiday Treasure Hunt.

Supervision: When all kids have arrived, gather then together and tell them you're sending them on a treasure hunt and carefully read them the first clue. DONE!

I've included a dozen clues for you to use. You can add or subtract clues to customize for hiding places you have in your home or to make the game to last longer. ALWAYS, jot down the place of the current clue on the back of the next clue to make make placing them a breeze. If the little ones are too young to read, you can adjust the game by turning it into a picture clue. For example, either draw or cut out a picture of a toaster from a magazine and tape to clue card. Help them to understand that that means they need to go to the toaster to look for another clue. They'll take it from there.

To print clues, click on image to open, right click and 'save to desktop'. Print.

Have a wonderfully peaceful and loving holiday!

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Are Any Guests On A Sugar Free Diet?

It may be easier to accommodate sugar free diets than you think. Investigate your options to put a couple sugar-free foods on your menu with a glance at what your local grocery stores are carrying. Click here.

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    • EGamboa profile image
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      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      High praise coming from you, a teacher. Thank you so very much.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I always like to provide the little ones with activities during the holiday. It keeps them entertained and they enjoy the fun. Your ideas are especially good and will make family time a lot of fun during the season.

    • EGamboa profile image
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      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      Thank you Alicia! The treasure hunt has always been a big hit for me which started when I was kid and made them up for my little sister. Thanks for reading!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      These are great ideas for Thanksgiving fun, EGamboa! I'm sure that people who have children to entertain will find this hub useful. I love the treasure hunt clues.

    • EGamboa profile image
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      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      Oh thank you Deborah; yes I was trying to share how well this works. And it's so easy to bring to someone else's house too. I brought a bag of pinecones to my sisters and kept them occupied; I've done treasure hunts for my step-kids; and even toted my big whiteboard along to do team dictionary. All very much appreciated. Thanks for reading!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 4 years ago from Iowa

      You've discovered my secret to a peaceful Thanksgiving! I don't have kids but always host the family Thanksgiving dinner. So I stock up on craft supplies and after dinner the kids head down to the craft room to make beaded bracelets, Christmas ornaments, or whatever else I come up with. I really love these Thanksgiving-specific craft ideas. Will have to add them to my repertoire!