I did go to pinterest for some ideas and my tip for that is to not get carried away! It's a great place to find crafts or fun foods but stay within your zone. I don't do fancy food so I found some non-fancy food that was simple and I knew I could be successful at.
My favorite was the Rudolf water bottles. I enjoy crafts so I had a lot of fun making these. If you don't like crafts then just do plain water bottles. :)
I saw THIS RECIPE and used some ideas from it. You can find plenty of different Chex Mix recipes HERE. I used the original and then added some fun stuff to it... like red and green M&Ms. Also... if you are afraid that people might have peanut allergies you can cook those up separate and put them in a bowl so people can add them if they want.
We also had sugar cookies and icing for the kids so they could do some decorating. In order to keep this easy and non-germy... We like to use cake icing and just add food coloring. Then I put a little bit of each color in little cups so that we didn't have to worry about kids licking knives and fingers and then re-dipping. Before the kids even came the icing was ready and there was a plate for each kid ready to go as well... three cookies and a knife... so that when the time came we just had to put the plates down and pass the icing around real quick. (Nothing kills a party faster than unplanned down time!)
SO... the food was ready and we just needed the guests to arrive. :) We didn't want the kids running all over the house and getting all the toys out so I needed a plan for when they started arriving... because we know that not everyone will show up at the exact same time. This is where the photo booth came in handy. I shared how I set that up HERE.
The kids had a blast with it!!
After everyone was here we jumped right into our crafts. The key to making this move along smoothly was being prepared before the party started. Our first craft was just something I picked up at Michael's. I made one wreath as an example and then had all the pieces that each kid would use on a plate. All I had to do was get the kids to the table and put a plate in front of them.
When they finished their wreaths we picked up those plates and put down the new craft.
To have the tree craft ready I had all the small pieces of paper that were necessary to make it cut and put on a large piece of paper for each kid. Just had to pass out one thing. Also, a glue stick for each kid makes it go quick and without fighting.
After the crafting I took the kids to the living room for story time. While reading stories Mike put out the cookies and icing.
The kids were pretty excited about decorating cookies and because we didn't have to worry about licked knives and fingers, I think the parents were able to just chill out and enjoy the time as well. :)
After all that was done we turned on Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas. The kids enjoyed cookies, snacks and hot chocolate. They didn't last for the whole movie but that's ok. They ended up going back to the photo booth props and putting on parades for the adults. It was a lot of fun!
We ended the night with a one song dance party and sent everyone back home with party bags full of goodies.
I know that me and my family had a really great time getting together with a few friends just to celebrate for the fun of it. I think everyone else had a good time too. I tried to keep things simple and was able to prepare it all in the three days leading up to it. (Mike was a HUGE help with cleaning, shopping and making all the cookies! He rocks!)
And there you have it... how to plan a simple party from a non party planner! Do you have any fun Christmas foods or crafts that you love to make?