We live relatively remotely in Alaska. Until just a few years ago, we only had a handful of neighbors within a mile radius. But then one neighbor subdivided his acreage and everything changed. When we were told that the property behind us was soon to go from being home to one family to having homes for many families, I was crushed. I loved the secluded, quiet life and I was quite content.
However, God had a much different plan for us and it was GOOD! Our new neighbors are now like family, and we’re so glad they are here!
Although everyone here has acreage, we’re still becoming a very close knit community. So this year, I decided we need to start the tradition of having an annual “Soup”er Community Christmas party. I’ll make soup, they bring side dishes and desserts, and we’d just celebrate being neighbors.
When I told our 13-year-old about the party, she immediately sprang up and grabbed her “Christmas Notebook” and shared some Christmas party ideas she had already come up with. I had no idea she was hoping we would host guests for the season, but she had already been planning!
Our teenage daughter loves Christmas. She cuts, glues, and paints paper into colorful chains that span the house, she fills the house with Christmas carols with music from her violin, and she makes sure every snowman in the yard has his own Santa hat.
It’s a busy time of year, and I already had my ideas of how this community party would work. We have neighbors of all ages so I had an efficient plan to make sure everyone had a good time while also keeping the mess to a minimum and keeping the work of putting on a party at bay.
Insert Abbi’s ideas.
Far from Efficient.
But her ideas were so good and her enthusiasm was so contagious that I couldn’t help but get excited!
I tell this story because I want to share some ways to include your kids in your holiday entertaining. But I want to encourage you to go deeper than just letting them set the table or plan a game.
You see, I can get a bit off kilter in my thinking during the holidays, and I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I want to do as many things as possible to enjoy the holiday season, but I want to do them as efficiently as possible.
But in trying to do so many things efficiently, I’m losing the WONDER that this season is supposed to be all about!
Abbi’s enthusiasm about the party (and the time it would take to implement her awesome ideas) stopped me in my tracks. Of course, our guests would enjoy my version of the party with homemade soup and rolls and fresh cider from our apple trees, but imagine the memories that are going to be made when they eat and drink at a table that is decorated with greenery from our property, when they each write a note in our “SOUP”er community notebook that we will get out year after year to read and add to, and when they leave with a jar of soup mix to enjoy on a busy or extra cold evening.
My work load didn’t change at all, but now Abbi and I can work together to make wonderful memories as I still make the soup and she decorates the table and fills jars with goodies. And our guests will feel extra special when they arrive and see all of the warm touches added to the party.
How to Include Kids in Holiday Entertaining
Here are some ways you can incorporate your kids in your holiday entertaining but before you decide what to implement, I want to encourage you to ASK them if they have any ideas. Remember, kids still think the holiday is wonderful and fun. Let’s learn from them and bring back our inner kid!
- Let them decorate the house, or at least one room, for Christmas however they like. Then allow them to give the guests a tour of the house (or room) and share all of their decorating ideas. This year, Abbi did most of our Christmas decorating and I’m finding the most fun little things, mostly homemade creations, tucked away in fun places.
- Let them plan the menu (and even make some of the food) for the kids to enjoy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with serving hot dogs or macaroni and cheese at Christmas!
- Ask if they have any ideas for games or activities for the guests. Twister might get awkward but pretty much anything else goes!
- If your kids want to make gifts for your guests, let them! Sure, they may be quirky and they may not be wrapped perfectly but allow them the opportunity to spread their joy – I guarantee it’ll give joy to your guests as well.
- Handmade invitations don’t have to be complicated. Although Abbi is 13 so she used Canva, if your kids are smaller, they can draw out the invitations. Make photo copies and send them out. Your kids will be so proud and your guests will love them!
I guess, mostly, I would just encourage you to do this all with your kids, include them in everything. And, regarding cleaning up, we try to make that fun, too. When the guests leave, we turn on Christmas music or a sweet Christmas story on Audible and get the house all spruced up right away. My plan is to finish off the evening after the party with a family Christmas movie and popcorn.
If you’re like me and sometimes get too focused on being focused and efficient and forget to be jolly or merry, I hope this encourages you to take a step back and enjoy your family and friends – and the Miracle this season is all about.