Does it ever seem like classroom parties are fun for your students…but an organizational headache for you? Between wrangling volunteers, planning activities and coping with sugar highs, it’s easy for special occasions to feel more stressful than celebratory. With that in mind, we’ve gathered these five simple tricks to keep your party-planning spirits high:
1. Keep a list of your classroom celebrations to share with students, families and your colleagues at the beginning of the year. This list should include holiday celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween as well as special occasions that are unique to your classroom—such as a Teddy Bear Sleepover or a Writer’s Publishing Party. The earlier that parents know about these activities, the more likely it is that they will be able to participate, and your students may also be motivated by upcoming events on the calendar.
2. Recruit volunteers online. Sites such as VolunteerSpot make it easy to coordinate your needs with potential volunteers’ availability, so that you won’t wind up with an amazing cookie decorating station…and no one to help keep frosting from flying across the room. Volunteers can also share what they plan to contribute to the party, which means a shorter shopping list for you.
3. Create a schedule for your party. It may not seem very festive to plan out your celebration in five-minute increments, but it will help kids—and volunteers—transition more easily from one activity to the next if you have a clear agenda. When you’re planning, keep in mind that the cupcakes may be devoured in less time than you think, so have a few back-up activities on hand, too.
4. Make clean up part of the fun. Instead of saying “Okay, the party is over, time to clean up,” try ending your celebration with a game where students pick up as much as they can in thirty seconds, or compete to pick up ten items first. You can also show students a photograph of your pre-party classroom and challenge them to put everything in order again. Don’t forget to offer a small prize to your helpers!
5. Use pizza boxes to store decorations for next year. If you had pizza delivered for your celebration, see if the restaurant is willing to send a few empty boxes along with your order. They are the perfect size for storing wall hangings, garlands and extra paper plates and napkins. You might also consider storing any related game materials or activities with these supplies, so that set-up is a snap next year!
Question for you: What are your tricks for keeping classroom celebrations running smoothly?