No doubt about it: children love the glitter, joy and wonder that is Christmas. Let your children give back this year by having them host a party for their friends. They'll love addressing the invitations, decorating the party room, helping put a menu together and more.
For Very Young ChildrenThis age is the best, because it's a certainty that preschoolers believe in Santa Claus. Santa should be the star of a young children's Christmas party. Decorate and create crafts that focus on Santa, his reindeer, and even his elves.
Have the kids decorate their own miniature stockings, or hang up pre-made miniature stockings as party favors. You can even put some fun toys and candy inside. Hang up images of Santa, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and have a CD of children's Christmas tunes playing in the background. You can also take a holiday twist on the classic "pin the tail on the donkey" game and play "put the nose on Rudolph!"
Have guests write their very own letter to Santa. Then print each letter out and tell the children you will be sending them together in the mail to the North Pole.
Mix up batches of dough and allow the little ones to create their own Christmas shapes, or give them cookie cutters. Bake the cookies and cool them while the guests are playing party games. Then for your last party activity, bring everyone back to the table to decorate and bring home their own yummy creations. Or if you want to avoid the baking part, make the cookies ahead of time, and give each child the cookies on a flat tray or cookie sheet to decorate. Consider sending them home with a cute recipe card. .
Here's another idea: If you have a willing partner, consider putting your spouse in a Mrs. or Mr. Claus suit to visit with the kids.
For School-Age ChildrenYour school-age child is old enough to help with various aspects of the party -- and will probably insist on helping! For example, she will enjoy creating her own invitations and addressing them to their friends and sticking on their own return address labels.
Your youngster will also enjoy helping to plan the party menu. Serve easy-to-cook creations so she can help you prepare the food. At this age, kids love to feel capable; praise her for all her help making the party punch, setting out the snacks and baking dessert.
Bigger kids are a risk of giving you away in your Santa suit ("Hey! That's Mr. Hansen!"), so focus more on keeping them active and entertained during the festivities. Also, you can be certain that someone there will be "in" on the Santa secret and spoil it for the other kids.
Have them decorate candy canes with novelty store "googly eyes," a pom-pom for the nose and pipe cleaners for the antlers. Or set up a Christmas Stocking Relay with the stocking at the beginning of the line and a bowl of candy at the end; each child in turn receives a soup spoon and must carry candy back to the stocking without dropping it. (Depending upon how many children are invited, two or three teams will work best.)
Give out something special and "cool" as a party favor: for instance, a movie ticket or a coupon for a free ice cream at your local eatery. You can also go to Oriental Trading (a popular party favor site) and find all sorts of cool pencils, stickers, and other Christmas party favors.
Tweens and TeensFrom age 12 onward, your children may be less interested in "kids' parties" and want to help with yours. This is fine and is a great lesson in cooperation, creativity and being a future host. However, teens can have their own special celebration if they wish.
Consider an elegant, get dressed up, formal dinner party for your teenager. Ask her to invite just a few friends and have her help you prepare the meal. Bring out the china, the silver and the Christmas Carols for a delightful evening.
Teeangers like to think they're all grown up. But they really do need to blow off some steam. You might consider planning a fun activity after your formal dinner -- so have a DVD (Christmas Vacation anyone?), snacks and lots of pillows to lounge around on for after the meal. Or, you can extend a teen Christmas dinner party into a sleepover too. A sleepover can be a terrific way to celebrate: have everyone bring their Christmas themed pajamas and watch A Christmas Story or any of the other holiday classic movies.
There are numerous ways to let children host an afternoon or evening of fun. Let your child give her input; she may have ideas you never thought of. Be creative and let your own inner child come out for some Christmas fun this year -- you'll find it's as much fun for you to "help" create the party as it is for the guests to be there.