Peace in the neighborhood: Activities for the party!

What’s a birthday party without a game of pin-the-tail on the donkey?

As we planned for our neighborhood Birthday Party for Jesus, we wanted to be sure that we had plenty of fun activities for our little guests. We also wanted to tie the theme of our party to the games. Here’s what we did…

Pin the Crown on Jesus.
Each child was given a construction paper clown to try to pin on a posterboard picture of baby Baby Jesus. Some of our little friends didn’t care for the blindfold, so they took their turns with open eyes!

Herd the Sheep
For this game, children were given a cup with a shepherd’s picture on it. Attached to the cup with a string was a cotton-ball sheep. The kids had a great time trying to scoop up their sheep, and seeing how many “catches” they could make in a row.
(Note: It’s important to add some weight to the sheep…we threaded a couple of small bolts through our string and then glued the cotton on top.)

Pack the Gifts
This game is basically the same as a ring-toss or corn hole…just “Christmassed up” a bit! We created a camel out of a carpet remnant that we found in the rafters of our garage when we moved in. We used dowel rods to help our camel stand up straight and then dressed him up with some fancy scarves. Kids had fun seeing how many beanbag “gifts” they could toss into the camel’s pack.

(Check out the Wise Men we drew and posted on the wall behind the camel.)

Each station had a Bible verse on the wall…we didn’t paraphrase the scripture, so that kids could see/hear it as written. As we played the games, we talked a bit about the Christmas story. However, we kept things light; this was a party, and not a lesson!

We were very flexible about games…some kids didn’t want to play all of the games while others worked through the stations quickly and wanted more turns. We had some “sponge activities” ready to “soak up” the extra time for kids who were less-interested in the games or who only wanted one turn. (coloring pages, dot-to-dots, and a story corner worked well.) As with any activity with small children, we had lots of energy and a variety of ability and attention levels…we found it was best to be flexible and keep things fun. It’s a party, after all!

Coming up next: Crafts



Peace in the neighborhood: Invitations

Most folks love a birthday party…and throwing a party is a great way to spread a little Christmas around the neighborhood.

The year after we moved to Cleveland, we wanted to do something special for Advent. We were still relatively new in the neighborhood, we were anxious to build relationships. So, when we turned the calendar to December, we decided that one way to reach out would be having a Birthday Party for Jesus at our home. We sat down and mapped out some plans:

1. Invitations
2. Activities
3. Story time
4. Service
5. Treats

Over the next few days, I’ll describe what we did…and then I hope you’ll brainstorm and share YOUR ideas here as well!

First: Invitations.  I wanted them to be simple enough that kids could read them…and special enough that they would be fun to receive. I also wanted them to be easy to make; I wanted Annie and Bill to be able to help with the process. Here is what we designed:

We hand delivered these to all of the kids in the neighborhood so that each child received one (if a family had more than one child, each child in the family received his/her own invitation.)

The inside of the invitation, as with any party, detailed the time, date and location. We also gave information about a special service project we had planned. (more on that in the next couple of days!)

You’ll notice that the invitation wasn’t expensive to make, nor was it very labor-intensive…and that is an important component of a family outreach: Keep it simple. I have learned this the hard way over the years…when I tried to complicate things by adding fancy details, my plans usually frustrated my kids and left me depleted. If store-bought invitations or computer-generated ones work for you, then that is the right solution. As my wonderful friend Barb Dittrich says, “Good enough is good enough!” She is right!

Coming up next: Games and crafts for the party

Everyone’s invited!

PS Congrats to Jeff C…you are the winner of Different Dream Parenting by Jolene Philo! Please email your address to me at and I will get it in the mail to you!