Real Food Tips: 7 Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids!)

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The holidays are a special time when we focus on family, celebration, thoughtfulness…and of course food! And while it’s completely appropriate to indulge in some fun treats this time of year, I personally don’t think you have to have loads of junk food for it to be a good time. So on that note, and thanks to a little brainstorming session with my facebook fans, here are some holiday party ideas for kids that are not centered around cookies and candy. I promise our children don’t “need” those things to have a little fun with their friends and make some memories! Please share your party ideas in the comments below.

Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids and schools!)

  1. Book Swap and Pajama Party
    Each student can wear pajamas to school and also bring a wrapped (new or gently used) book to “swap” with another student. The teacher or a special guest can choose one book to read to the class.
  2. Cards that Give BackReal Food Tips: 7 Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids!) from 100 Days of Real Food
    Using supplies like paper, markers, glue, buttons, and glitter the students can decorate holiday cards (or ornaments) for those who may be away from home during the holidays (children in hospitals, adults in nursing homes, or soldiers overseas).
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  3. Recycled Craft Party (Make art out of trash!)
    Each student or a group of parents can donate “trash” that kids can use to make crafts. For example empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls can become snowmen, water bottles can become reindeer, empty glass jars can become snow globes, jar lids can become ornaments, and paper scraps can become wreaths. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest of course!
  4. Activity Stations
    Ask parent volunteers to run different stations in the classroom that small groups of students rotate through including bingo, crafts, story time, musical chairs, beanbag toss, hot potato, and other games.
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  5. Homemade Ornament Party
    The class makes ornaments together using either pine cones, photographs, paper-mache, popsicle sticks, felt, or homemade salt dough.
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  6. Board Game Day
    A few children volunteer to bring in board games from home. The class is divided into groups that rotate through the board game stations.
  7. Food Basket Donations
    Each child brings in a non-perishable holiday food item and together the class assembles and decorates 2 or 3 food baskets to be donated to families in need.

“Real Food” Refreshment Ideas:

  • Each child brings in a piece of fruit that the teacher or a volunteer chops and combines to make a “Friendship Salad” fruit salad.
  • Kids make colorful “Candy Canes” out of alternating fruit pieces like strawberries and bananas.
  • Kids make “Holiday Fruit Trees” out of toothpicks, grapes, and strawberries for the tree topper.
  • Each child can make “Reindeer Food” by scooping different whole foods (like raisins, sunflower seeds, freeze dried fruit, whole-grain pretzels, popcorn, and cheese cubes) into their own snack cup.

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23 comments to Real Food Tips: 7 Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids!)

  • Katrina the poorganic

    I found some really cute ideas for snowmen made from banana coins on a skewer with pretzel sticks for arms and legs.

  • Ceri

    We also made the Banana Snowmen and it went over really well with the youngins that already love fruit…some of the older kids were hesitant to eat these with all the sugar cookies available but overall – a big success!

    Also, FoodBabe.com has White Chocolate Almond Coconut Crispy Treats that I tranformed into “tangled balls of lights” from Family Fun Magazine. Complete with Chocolate covered Sunflower Seeds, these were a awesome!

  • Sara

    My kids’ school is a no food zone for parties. Literally no food allowed at holiday parties. I love it and the crafts and activities are a big hit!

    • Lisa

      What school district are you in and how does this go over with the parents at your school?

      • Sara

        St. Vrain Valley School District in Colorado. There have been some complaints from parents, but it seems like the majority are in favor, or have at least gotten used to it. The school has won awards for its Movement program, so this aspect of Wellness is just another piece of the culture of the school.

        To elaborate on the program, there is a birthday book program (donate a book to the library rather than bring in cupcakes or treats to celebrate a birthday). Just to clarify though, there is food allowed for specific teacher sponsored activities. For example, first grade studies world cultures and holiday celebrations, so there was a party just before winter break where families brought in food related to the cultures they studied. Also, no “food as reward” can be used (i.e. pizza party for bringing the most cans in a food drive).

  • Sarah

    These are such great ideas!! I wish that my school would have been open to these types of things when I was teaching! Keep up the great work!

  • stephanie

    I think it’s a great list – I would caution about the food donations parties. They are great ideas especially for groups like scouts, etc. However for classrooms it can be tricky. We have about 40% of our kids that recieve free lunch and several in each class get a backsnack (full of junk food basically, but I digress) to take to tide them over until Monday. So, I think this could be uncomfortable ‘event’ or party to promote to the parents of these kids. Just my two cents.

  • There are some wonderful ideas here! Love it! If you have time, would you consider linking up this post (and any other Christmas-themed post that you’d like) to our 12 Days of Christmas {Goodies} link-up? I think it would make a wonderful addition! If you can’t or don’t want to, I understand, but I thought I’d ask. :)

    Have a great week!

  • Thanks for the great ideas! I love the idea of a book exchange, as a teacher, especially the idea that it can be gently used. Sometimes I think the overwhelming ‘stuff’ we accumulate is almost as bad as the overwhelming junk out there…

    This would be a way for everyone to get something new to them, but for no-one to feel pressure to buy something new. Love it!

  • Nicole

    Thank you thank you! As a first-time mom to a toddler I’m floored by the food provided at daycare and the way we treat food, especially this time of year. I just wrote about sending real food to daycare – http://itsloverly.blogspot.com/2012/12/feeding-our-family-daycare-and-real-food.html

    I love these ideas and hope to use many of them. Thank you!

  • Stacy P.

    Thank you so much for sharing these- and for the other thoughtful comments posted! My son’s small first grade class has only 9 kids, but 3 have severe allergies, which make bringing any type of snack for the class difficult. I’m especially loving the snowman w/ pretzels idea. Rold Gold pretzels are the only brand we can use for our allergy-full class and (lucky for us!) no one is allergic to strawberries, so fun santa hats/candy canes are on the way!

  • jaci

    Thanks for this post…while my boys party will still have scrappy food…I’m bringing an organic and real food fruit pizza!

  • Rachelle

    Great ideas! I don’t teach but I will try everything with my kids!

  • [...] to keep the junk food out?  Are you planning a class party or a party at your house.  Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food has some great ideas for healthy holiday [...]

  • Mikala Moffatt

    to keep the junk food out? are you planning a class party or a party at your house. lisa at 100v Days of Real Food has some great ideas for healthy holiday

  • Here are some more great healthy food ideas for your holiday party! http://eco18.com/school-holiday-parties-a-food-nightmare/

  • [...] Real Food Tips: 7 Healthy Holiday Parties (for kids!) – as a teacher, I am thankful for posts like this one full of ideas on how not to sugar up the kiddos at school. I’ve already tried a couple of these ideas with great success (recycled trash crafts and board games with the teacher playing day) and I look forward to my return to the classroom to try more. [...]

  • Jennifer

    I am a teacher, and before spring break we have a Bunny Brunch. The kids eat “rabbit food” –fruits and veggies, no other food allowed. We make bunny ears and do the bunny hop. It is so much fun– healthy and non-holiday specific, which works well where I work.

  • Bob

    For organic certified hand-decorated cookies that are great for school parties, check out the offerings from Beatiful Sweets.

    Here’s a link:
    http://beautifulsweets.com/

  • Kayla

    I love this. I work in a day care center, and wish this would be the norm. The staff have pushed and we have a healthier menu no processed foods, whole wheat breads and pastas, and we bake with whole wheat flour. they still get cookies once every other week on the menu, as well as ice cream once a month, but it is definitely better.

    Lunches the
    children get everything from pork tenderloin, home made chicken nuggets, chunky vegetable soup or home made macaroni and cheese, always with fresh fruit and veggies on the side. they get 2 snacks that cover three food groups, and a lunch with all four with a full serving of fruit and veggies every day for $2.45. even the parents who normally would send the “treats” for lunch cant beat that price, but that’s what the government says we can charge. and that includes our cooks wages.

    For special events we do Fruit and Veggie platters, and water. We request no treats, like candy for Halloween or cookies. But there is no strict guideline inforced, so these things come in a lot during the holidays. I wish that it could be easier to inforce but without the parent board behind it were helpless.

  • Those are some great ideas but I would suggest using the plastic jars and bottles for the kids projects. Just to be safe.

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