When I taught in the public school, parties were all the rage. Haha. We had one for just about any occasion we could think of. Homeroom moms would come in with cute crafts, fun food, and all kinds of games. Even when we confined it to the last hour of the day, it still consumed many weeks with the planning and details.
We had Thanksgiving feasts with Pilgrims and Indians. We had hot cocoa parties with more junk food than you’ve probably seen in one room. They were always fun, but the carnality always bothered me. Not that there is anything wrong with having parties, food, games, and fun. I just always hated to see holidays so focused on GETTING and so not focused on GIVING.
The kids grew to expect a fanfare directed at them when holidays neared and this bothered me even more.
When I became a mom, I vowed to think harder about this whole thing. When God led me to homeschool, I figured parties would be a thing of the past. Turns out homeschoolers have parties, too.
And one thing my homeschool support group does really well is parties. At our annual Christmas party, we do many of the usual activities (stories, songs, food, and crafts), but it’s all directed outward. Each activity we do gives our children the opportunity to serve someone else. One year we made massive plates of cookies for local emergency responders. As a group, we took the gifts and caroled at the station.
Another year we made little paper shoes and filled them with treats for children in our area who might not otherwise receive treats.
I’ve grown to really love this new way of thinking about holiday parties and wanted to extend it to Thanksgiving. We tend to be so busy in December.
Why not have a party in November that is focused on serving others?
I decided to call it a blessings party.
The idea is simple. Get together a group of friends, a homeschool co-op, Sunday school class, etc. Then have the kids create things to bless other people. Equip them for how to give these things to others and then send them off to find ways to serve over the next month or so.
Blessings Party Plan
When it comes to parties, I like to keep things as simple as possible. Here’s your super simple game plan!
Step 1—> Gather your materials!
- Fun pencils/pens to write the thank you notes with
- Markers, colored pencils, or crayons for decorating
- Brown Kraft paper bag for each child
- Clear party favor bags (3-5 per child). These will be filled with treats and thank you cards to give out to others. Of course, you could skip this step and just do thank you cards if desired.
- Something to fill the bags with. We often use candy, but you might also consider cookies or other small treats.
- Paper string to tie the bags. You could use any kind of ribbon or tie. Many craft stores have great seasonal options, too.
- Hole punch to punch the cards. We fold the cards in half with the words on the inside then punch the hole and attach to the string and bag.
- Using our thankfulness printables (free), make a set for each attendee. You can send them to an office supply store for easier printing if desired or simply print from home. I recommend printing on cardstock (this is my favorite printer in case you are dying to know, haha).
Step 2—> Party Day!
As the kids arrive, have them decorate the outside of their bag with things they are thankful for. This is a great icebreaker activity and helps make sure everyone can participate in the main event.
I love to play music during this time is Reflections on a Journey by Greg Howlett. It’s traditional hymns played by piano and orchestra. It’s beautiful, calm (but not the put you to sleep kind of calm), and a great fit for the theme. Count Your Blessings is my favorite track on this album, too.
Step 3—> Time to be thankful!
Have the kids brainstorm a huge list of people they might want to thank. I usually do this on giant sticky notes I can hang on the wall. (As a mom, it’s amazing how handy these are!) This giant list will help the kids think of people they might not ordinarily consider thanking, such as the piano teacher or music pastor.
As the kids think of ideas, have them jot them down on the gratitude list printable or have them write on small sticky notes to use later.
Finally, have them write out the thank you cards. (Alternatively, you could send them home for mom/dad’s help. This might be necessary if you have several very young children.)
Step 4—> Play some fun games together!
Games are what make a party fun. Go all out with simple themed games designed to help the kids develop an attitude of thankfulness. If you have older children (8 and up), I’d play games after you’ve done your cards. If you have younger children involved, you might play games throughout the party, splitting up the writing/listening time required of them.
Gratitude Activities: Party Game Style
During the party, play games that are centered around the theme of gratitude. You don’t have to come up with wild and crazy ideas; use a simple idea and center it around the theme. (I’m always shocked at how fun this simple tweak makes games.)
- Play hangman with Bible verses about being thankful (we’ve listed some in our printable).
- Revise the game “hot potato” to have the person holding the potato stand up and say something they are thankful for (rather than getting eliminated).
- You could also have children write 3 things they are thankful for on a leaf and turn it in. Then have the others guess who wrote it.
- Read about a missionary such as George Mueller. Act out the story of his orphanage praying for food. This excerpt from his personal journal retells the story well!
“One morning, all the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder and no money to buy food. The children were standing, waiting for their morning meal, when Müller said, “Children, you know we must be in time for school.” Then lifting up his hands he prayed, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.”
There was a knock at the door. The baker stood there, and said, “Mr. Müller, I couldn’t sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast, and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.”
Mr. Müller thanked the baker, and no sooner had he left, when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it.”
- Learn the story behind an old hymn on thankfulness such as “The Doxology,” “Count Your Blessings,” or “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” (We have a hymn study resource here if that interests you.)
- Hide the pieces to “The Doxology” around your house and have the kids race in two teams to put it together. (Put a team number on the back of each piece or hide them in different rooms. The puzzle is free in our Thankfulness activities pack.
- If your group leans toward the younger side, you might read a children’s picture book to the group. There are many great children’s books about thankfulness listed here.
- If you want to dig even deeper, you could create gratitude journals for kids using our free printable pack, too. Simply print, 3-hole-punch, and tie with fun ribbon.
- You’ll also find games and crafts on thankfulness here on this Pinterest board.
Whatever you do, remember to keep it simple. The best parties aren’t packed full of stuff. They are simple, fun, and memorable! Don’t stress over it. Make a short list of people to invite and go for it.
You don’t need months of planning or elaborate details to make memories that challenge and strengthen the faith of your kids, just a willing heart!
What do you think? Will you try it? What thankfulness activities would you include? Share with us in the comments!
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