This year our school's annual English-language Christmas Party was held a few days before Christmas. It was organized and run by me and my colleagues, Adam Pearson, Julie Kawamura, and Ann Powell.
Before any event, advertising is key. Make a poster and put copies of it across the school. If possible, get copies to each homeroom class. Students appreciate being asked directly, so if you have time when walking down the hall, hype the event.
The most important organizational question is where you're going to hold the party. A relatively-central location is desirable because students will walk by the room when you're setting up and get excited about the event. Alternately, a room that you can set up several days in advance can be good because it allows for leisurely preparation, and it gives students several days to spot the new activity. This year we ran the Christmas Party in the ECR. Here is the room layout.
We have accumulated a lot of decorations over the years. More recently, I put together a collection of snowmen pictures. We printed these out, laminated them, and when party time comes along we stick them on the wall. It's pretty impressive what kinds of snowmen people have produced.
We have a small Christmas tree, and every year we put the Christmas tree up, and during the party students decorate it as they like. At the end of the party, we take a group picture with the Christmas tree in the center.
We always need to know how many people attended the party and how much money was spent on what. This lets us plan well for future parties, and it helps convince the bosses that they should give us money to spend, too. Here is a sign-in sheet. This year, over fifty students came.
Origami is nice because if you choose a simple object to make, you can leave the instructions sheet on the table and students will tackle the project at their own pace. For our parties, we only have three or four teachers available, which makes activities where students can figure it out on their own indispensible. My favorite Christmas origami patterns are for a Santa Boot and a candycane. When I have free time at the party, I like to sit down and teach students how to make them, and when I'm busy, the laminated A3-size sheet gets the job done.
Pin the Tail on Rudolph
Pin the Tail on Rudolph is a slight variant of the classic party game Pin the Tail on the Donkey. It's fun for kids and is a good way to practice giving and listening to directions. Here are the Rudolph pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4. Print them out, trim the edges, tape it together, and cut out circles of red cardboard. When students want to play, they write their name on a red cardboard circle, put some two-sided tape on the back, grab a large winter cap, and they're good to go.
Stocking Guessing Game
Adam had an idea for a Stocking Guessing Game where there are some mystery items in a cloth stocking. Students hold the outside of the stocking and try to guess what the things inside are. Near the end of the party, we reveal the objects to the party guests.
Ann had an idea for a Christmas Bingo game that she led. Bingo is a fun way to give out candy canes or other small sweets to party guests. Depending on the rules, it can be a listening activity or a mixed speaking-and-listening activity.
Last year Kaya taught us how to make Danish oatmeal balls, and they were good, so we made them again this year. Thanks, Kaya! Two students later reported that they made the recipe again for their families during winter vacation. This recipe is great for school because it doesn't require a kitchen.
Here are some instructions for making paper 3D snowflakes. These snowflakes are not hard to make, though they take some time. The following supplies are needed: 6 square pieces of paper, a stapler, a pair of scissors, and some tape if you like. Depending how you want to hang the snowflake, you might also want some thread. You can find instructions with video clips for this on WikiHow. That's great if you have your computer around, but for a printable version, try the following.
Take a square piece of paper. Fold it into a triangle. Then fold that triangle into a smaller triangle. Do this for all six pages.
Put one of the triangles on the desk in front of you with the long side towards you. Using scissors, cut three or five parallel horizontal slits. Start the slits on the thick side of the triangle (with one big fold and not two small folds) and go about 3/4 across. Put the top slit about 1/3 of the way down from the top, and space the remaining slits evenly below that one. Do this for all six pages.
Unfold a piece of paper to the original square size. Put it on the table in front of you like a diamond. If necessary, turn it over so that the main crease opens down (toward the table). Take the two inner-most flaps, gently roll them up and towards each other. Overlap the flaps and tape or staple them together. Turn the paper over and repeat for the next two inner flaps. Do this twice more for the remaining two flaps. Do all of the above for all six pages.
Split the papers into two sets of three. Take the top corner of one set of three, make sure they are oriented the same way (facing left or facing right), and staple them together once at that corner. Staple the left flake to the center flake and then staple the center flake to the right flake. There is one spot near the middle of each flake that lines up to its neighbor, and this is where the staple goes. Do the same thing for the other set of three.
Set the two bundles on the table with the stapled corners overlapping and the bundles facing away from each other. Staple them together at that base. Then, like in the previous step, staple the adjacent pages together. There are two spots that need stapling.
The snowflake is finished! Hold it up and see what it looks like. If you want to hang it up, you could staple or tape some string to it. Or perhaps you can tape it to something directly. Probably you cannot store these snowflakes without crushing them, so bear in mind that if you use them to decorate this year, you may have to make new ones next year. But they're easy and fun to make alone or in groups, so that's no matter. In fact, we've made these for two years at the party to great success.
I think plain white paper looks great, especially if you hang a few of these in a sunny afternoon window, though some people like to use origami paper where the front and back are of different colors. These are easiest to make using large paper (for example, A3 sheets trimmed to square), but once you understand the idea, you can use smaller sizes as well.
I made some free Christmas Bingo cards and related files. In preparation for my school's Christmas party, I searched online, but most of what's out there is not free or has ugly watermarks and you can't do quite what you want with it. Here's my attempt to fix the situation. Each Bingo card here is 4x4. The images are chosen randomly from twenty-seven Christmas pictures I downloaded from Clker.
- Ten Bingo sheets. These are A4 in size. If you have time and energy, print them out, trim the borders, glue them on colored paper, and laminate the whole thing.
- Ten more sheets.
- Ten more sheets.
- Key. A single ODT sheet showing all the pictures and the English word below each one. This is a good reference for whoever is running the game.
- Flash cards. Twenty-seven B5 ODG sheets — one sheet for each picture. Just before starting a game of Bingo, these cards can be used when reviewing relatively obscure Christmas vocabulary. During the game, shuffle this deck and pull a card at random to determine the next word.