Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jingle Bell Rock Kids Christmas Party

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun
Now the jingle hop has begun

Last Friday we had our annual Christmas party the day the children got out of school. Two years ago we invited our favorite pair of sisters, Emma and Lizzie, to join us for a Gingerbread House Decorating Party. Then last year we added our favorite pair of brothers, Garrison and Gavin, to the mix for a canvas-painting Christmas P-art-y. (Find more details about those parties here, here and here.) The children are so full of excitement on the last day of school, and it has helped us to channel their energy into a holiday party. Since the last two parties have been "artsy-crafty," I thought we would switch things up a bit with a Jingle Bell Rock. Let me explain.

The first year Joe and I were married, my sweet 8-year-old cousin Kristi spent a weekend with us during the holidays. We decorated a gingerbread house together, sipped hot chocolate and enjoyed the holiday lights of Nashville. As newlyweds, Joe and I lived on a shoestring and didn't have much money for holiday spending. One of the only Christmas-themed items we got that year was a CD of Christmas music we won from a church party gift exchange. It wasn't really a great CD, but it was the only Christmas one we had, so we listened to it often. One of the most fun impromptu moments of our weekend with Kristi was getting up to dance together to the song "Jingle Bell Rock." The three of us whirled and twirled around our little apartment, laughing and acting silly together. This was such a joyful holiday moment that a family tradition was born. To this day, whenever the song "Jingle Bell Rock" comes on -- whether we are eating dinner, cleaning house or doing homework -- we run from all areas of the house to our family room to dance together. Especially when we are busy cooking or readying the house for company, taking a few minutes to laugh and act silly together can be just what we need to put the jingle back in our step. And you would be surprised how often "Jingle Bell Rock" comes on during the holidays!


Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock,
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time

The children love this holiday tradition. Ten-year-old Christian is usually the first one to notice when "Jingle Bell Rock" comes on the radio, and he has us on our feet within a few beats. So we decided it would be fun to pass on our silly holiday tradition at the kids Christmas party this year with a music-themed Jingle Bell Rock.

Rockin' Activities

  • Holiday Hit List. Before the party, I asked all eight children to tell me their favorite Christmas song but keep it a secret from each other. I compiled their holiday hits onto a CD to play during dinner, and with each new song we went around the table to guess whose favorite it was. This was a great equal-opportunity activity because each child aged 5 to 12 picked a song and each one got to guess their friends' choices. I put a handful of chocolate Jingles at each place, and 9-year-old Gavin had the idea that if you guessed a song's fan correctly, you could eat a candy. Then the next round he suggested that you could eat one if someone said your name during the guessing, and by the third song he had covered all the bases so everyone could eat a piece of chocolate no matter what. The song-guessing game went over even better than I expected, and from now on we will always associate the chosen songs with our special friends.
  • Elf-is Has Entered the Building. Days before the party I found an elf karaoke microphone at Wal-Mart, and I kept it hidden until party time. The microphone had three settings: Christmas song karaoke, your voice and elf voice. We didn't use the mic for an organized group activity, but the children enjoyed passing this around all night.
  • The 12 Breakfasts of Christmas. Longtime readers of A Little Loveliness may know about this fun tradition son Carson started a few years ago. Carson commented that it would be funny to sing about a Pop-Tart in a pear tree, so we started singing, "On the first day of breakfast my mother made for me a Pop-Tart in a pear tree." The game progresses around the table with each person choosing a breakfast. For us, day one is always a Pop-Tart in a pear tree and day five is always five strips of bacon (because we are southern and because it is increasingly funnier with each round to sing "five strips of BAAAA-CON" with gusto). This is another equal-opportunity activity, and it is a lot of fun to remember each breakfast as the song progresses. We sang this song during dessert and had a great time with it.
Other Jingle Bell Rock activities could include making instruments from household items or playing music-themed video games on the Wii. I originally planned to do both, but the kids seemed to enjoy their free play so much that I decided to let them just enjoy their time.

Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air

For this party I re-purposed some of the decor I used for Christian's Elf #6 surprise breakfast, but changing up the color scheme gave it a completely different feel. Our elf breakfast was mostly red and white, with some splashes of lime green. But a four-pack of pale blue wrapping paper added a breath of fresh air to our rockin' table.

What a bright time
It's the right time
To rock the night away

Plastic tumblers, Winn-Dixie; striped straws, The Sugar Diva; peppermint plates and wrapping paper, Wal-Mart; snowflake napkins, plastic silverware and drum ornaments, Hobby Lobby.

Jingle Bell Rock Menu

Bugles with Jazzy Dip
Classic Drumsticks
Fruit Horns
Black Eyed Peas Medley
Jam Session Biscuits
Rockin' Sundaes
Cherry Limeade Pop

Jingle bell time is a swell time
To go riding in a one-horse sleigh

Taking note of an idea on Pinterest to fill waffle cones with fruit, I decorated sugar cones to look like horns and filled them with fruit salad. I found our recipe for Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Drumsticks here. The kids gave it rave reviews, so I will definitely make this dish again. I jazzed up traditional black eye peas with some limas, green peas and extra spices. To be honest, the kids didn't really give these a try, but come on -- Black Eyed Peas Medley -- it was worth a shot. Frozen mini-biscuits served hot with jam on the side were worthy of a jam session, and a variety of toppings were great fun for our rockin' sundaes. I offered three flavors of ice cream for our sundae bar: classic vanilla, holiday hit peppermint and rock-n-roll rocky road.

Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock

Purchasing a four-pack of wrapping paper made cutting coordinating bottle labels a snap. I chose bottles of Cherry-Limeade for the color, but placed a tumbler alongside in case the soda wasn't a hit with some of the kids.

Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet

That's the jingle bell
That's the jingle bell
That's the jingle bell rock!

Each year I want to send the kids home with an ornament commemorating our Christmas party. This year I found a rocking selection at Hobby Lobby. We also sent each family home with a CD of the kids' holiday hits, and, of course, the last track is "Jingle Bell Rock." We also sent each family home with a little bag of Jingles candy, not pictured, with coordinating elf tag and message: "Thank You for Jingle Bell Rocking with  Us! Carson, Christian, Mary Ashley & Emma."

I hope you will consider acting a little bit silly next time you hear "Jingle Bell Rock." It might just put a jingle in your step this holiday season!

And guess what? Seventeen years later, my little cousin Kristi is all grown up and engaged to be married. I was so excited to attend a Christmas shower for her recently, and I'm sure you can guess what I gave her: a CD with "Jingle Bell Rock" so she can continue our holiday tradition with her own family!

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