The Easiest (Not Just Easy – Easiest) Party for Families

I {used to} love to entertain. I’ve got great dishes, platters, wine glasses, and table linens to prove it.
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Then I had kids.  And entertaining took on a new meaning.  Birthday parties, play dates, play-dinner-dates, joint outings to local events….that’s about the spectrum of our entertaining with kids all under school age.

Except one time a year.  The time when we throw the easiest party ever.  Not just easy – easiest!  It’s our annual Santa party.  We have 30+ kids descend upon our home each December – and I swear to you, it is the easiest party to execute.  If you don’t mind noise, chaos, and toys galore – and want a low-prep party idea, this is for you.  (Thank you to G. from McKinney, a reader who took adifferent spin for her Santa partylast year, for sharing.  Much more subdued than what I’m about to describe!)

Here are the 5 Easy Steps we follow.

1.Hire Your Santa (or Your Santa Suit).  We have used the same hired Santa, who is based in McKinney, for the past 3 years.  He doesn’t have a website, and his phone is his cell phone so I won’t print it here.  Having no one our kids would miss ‘disappear’ right around the time Santa enters is worth it to us for the $100 fee.  Plus there’s no picking up the suit, returning it, etc.  To get his name/number, just email me (info below).

2.Invite Your Guests – and Give them Good Instructions.  Avoiding disappointment is key when anything related to Santa is involved, so make sure your guests are well informed of what to expect.  For example, we have everyone bring a wrapped gift for their own child of a specific dollar limit to avoid inequity among the children on gifts.  The gifts need to be clearly labeled with child’s first and last name and age.  All guests must arrive at least a half hour before Santa to allow time to get settled in, get used to each other, and – of course – play!  This also allows one adult the time to sneak out to put their child’s gift in a “secret” place for Santa to place in his bag before his big arrival. 

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3.Leave the Toys Within Reach.  With 3 kids, toys have taken over our living room to the point that cleaning up seems futile most days.  For the party, we leave the toys where all the kids can get to them to try them out.  We included extra activities and crafts the first year, but the kids have so much fun pulling toys out that the ‘extras’ are never noticed.  The kids have a great time exploring new toys with no restrictions (other than your normal share, don’t hit, don’t throw, etc.).  So, save the prep time and just leave the toys out….you will need to clean up and reorganize (if you started out organized, that is) after.

4.Keep Treats Simple.  For our party, we have only sweets and juice.  Sugar overload, yes, but super easy.  You could add fruits and a veggie tray for more healthy items, but we figure Santa doesn’t come every day of the year, so why not really celebrate?  Plus….treats are easy to make, and even easier to buy (we get the super soft sugar cookies from Lofthouse and a few different muffin/mini cupcake options from Costco).  I am even giving up the post-party goody bags I historically sent home with everyone.  This year, I didn’t have the chance to tell everyone to pick one up as the party wound down, and I ended up with about 2/3 of them left over.  No one seemed to notice, so they are going to be repurposed for teacher and friend ‘goodies’ – a bonus time and money saver!).

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5.Relax with Your Kids and Guests.  From the moment Santa arrives until he leaves, you’re off the hook for entertaining.  Our Santa has every child come to his knee, whisper a Christmas wish, and take a picture.  (Of course, with kids as young as ours and their friends, sitting on Santa’s lap doesn’t actually happen all the time….high fives are a great option in that case, or backing up to Santa with your young child so they don’t actually know whose lap they are sitting on.)  We let the kids open their gifts immediately (otherwise it would be TORTURE for them!) and play.

It’s not fancy, it’s not expensive….but it is sure fun and definitely beats waiting in line at the mall to see Santa.

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