Sunday, October 7, 2018

How We Plan an Our Annual All Saints Day Party

Are you planning to host an All Saints Day party for your parish or homeschool group, but don't know where to start?

Please, let me help!

I've been the coordinator for our homeschool group's All Saints Day party for several years now and have fine-tuned our party plans to work wonderfully within a 2-3 hour time slot - from set up to clean up, with an hour to two hours of actual party time pending the year, number of participants, and location.

(Last year - when all the pictures in the post were taken, we had a small group, so we enjoyed the entire party in one hour.  Some years, we have had larger groups, so have stretched to three hours.  One year, my crew and I missed the big party due to illness and did a small one with just a few friends and that took about two hours.)

Pre-Party Planning and Preparation 

The first thing I do each year is ask one or two dependable friends what day and time they are available for the party and, that settled, ask a local parish or friend with a large home for use of a space.

Date, time, and location settled, I, then, put word out in our Facebook group to see who would like to join our party and to ask every family coming to do one or more of these things:

  • dress as saints.

  • bring saint-themed snacks or drinks (or tablecloths, disposable cups, paper plates, etc.).

  • bring prizes (saint cards, like-new books and toys to pass along, anything but candy - but you can do candy if you like).

  • bring art supplies for our St. Luke's Studio table (where kids use scissors, paper, glue, stickers, markers, etc. to make hank you cards for whoever let us use their space and create notes and cards for others, too).

  • prepare a saint-related game or activity.

Once everyone has volunteered to bring snacks, prizes, art supplies, and/or games/activities, I see what we might still need and either bring it myself or ask others to do so.  I, then, plug everyone into jobs on an agenda, which I send out to everyone.  (See a sample here.)

Finally, the week before the party, I send out a reminder, check in to see if anyone needs anything, and gather all the supplies I am responsible for bringing.

(This year, I may use Perfect Potluck to help with planning instead of just using Facebook messages.)

A Word About Game/Activity Choices

I typically plan to have 8-15 game and activity stations.

In one corner, I set up a "little ones" area.  This area typically has Lincoln Logs, blocks, and Duplos, so children can Build like Saint Joseph or Build a Church Like St. Francis of Assisi.

Then, I aim to have a variety of games and activities that encourage physical skill, sensory input, or creative problem solving.  

As I do this, I try to balance activities that require large motor skills (running,  jumping, etc.) with ones that require concentration (balancing, building, etc.)

Find them here.

Many years, I plan the games around a specific picture book, making printables for to post by each game.

Of course, I also welcome whatever games and activities other families wish to prepare and run.

Somehow, it all works out without anyone having to go to too much trouble or expense and with everyone enjoying themselves as they key into facts about saints' lives!

Set Up in 30' or Less 

Set up has become quite easy.

A few volunteers arrive 15 minutes early and set up 3 tables close to one another - one for snacks, one for prizes, and one as St. Luke's Studio.

They also ensure there are enough tables or clear floor spaces set up around the room (or outdoor space during good weather years) for each of the planned game and activities.

For the snack table, we simply put a tablecloth down, put disposable cups, napkins, paper plates, and plastic silverware at one end.  Then, as families arrive, they drop off snacks with saint-related name cards and a volunteer arranges them in an attractive manner.

For the prize table, we put a tablecloth down, place a coin bank, and have sticky notes or small pieces of paper and a pen to write "costs" on.  Then, as families arrive, they drop off prizes, and a volunteer arranges them nicely on the table, with "cost" notes saying, 1, 5, 10, etc. pending how many tokens kids will trade for the prizes.

For our St. Luke's Studio, we use a disposable tablecloth or shower curtain and put out paper, scissors, stickers, old religious calendars and magazines, glue sticks, etc.  A volunteer stays at this table at all times to help children keep supplies tidy and attractive and to collect finished thank you cards for the parish.

At each game/activity station (table of floor space) around the room, a volunteer places a small cup of tokens that children later take and trade for prizes.  (We use bingo chips or plastic coins as tokens.  Plastic gems, paper money, or really any small item could work just as well.)

Then, all families arrive, and in 15 minutes, drop off snacks, prizes, art supplies and/or set up their game/activity station.  As they do so, children are encouraged to work at St. Luke's studio or to help with set up.  (Some years, when we have larger groups, we also set up a All Saint Bingo table (with thanks o Jessica to Shower of Roses!) to keep the kids busy during the final 15 minutes of set up when all families are present.)

Let the Party Begin

Once everything is set up, I ring a bell to call everyone to attention.  Then for 1-2 hours we enjoy the actual All Saints Day Party.

Our parties typically flow like this:

Gather, Chat, and Prayer

I gather everyone together and welcome them.  If a priest is available, we ask him to chat with the children about All Saint Day and to lead them in prayer.  If no priest is available, I chat with the children and pray a prayer such as:
Dear God, thank you for the example of the Saints.  I desire to join in their company, worshiping you forever in Heaven. Please help me follow their footsteps, and yours, Jesus Christ. Please help me to conform myself to Your image, seeking Your will in all things, as the Saints did. Please help me to devote myself, and all that I do, to Your glory, and to the service of my neighbors. Amen.
Parade of Saints/Litany of Saints

Depending on the size of the group, the age of the children participating and the space we have, we then do some combo of having the children parade to the song "When the Saints Go Marching In", process while praying a Litany of Saints, and introduce themselves and the saints they have dressed up as.

Games, Activities, Snacks, and Prizes

If we have enough adults or teens to man each game or activity station, I, then, dismiss children to enjoy the games and snacks freely, using he honor system to earn tokens for participating in games and to trade them in for prizes.

When we do not have enough adults or teens to man each game, I take the children on a tour of all the game/activity stations and quickly explain or demonstrate how to play. Then, I dismiss them in pairs or small groups, with at least one reader per group, to play and enjoy.

As children play, I have specific adults or teens monitor the snack, prize, and St. Luke's Art Studio tables, while other adults participate in games and activities with children, take photos, offer help, etc. as needed.

Closing and Clean Up in 40' or Less 

About 45 minutes before we have to depart the space, I ring a bell to give a 5-minutes-until-closing heads up.  Then, five minutes later, I ring a bell again to call all the children to gather with me.

Once the children are settled in front of me, the adults (who already know what to do), begin collecting non-disposable supplies, recycling or trashing disposable ones, etc.

Meanwhile, I thank the children for coming and participating so well, note aloud a few making-of-a-saint moments I witnessed during the party (examples of when I saw children exercising virtue) and ask if anyone else has any quick examples to share. 

Then, I call adults attention, too, and we all close with a prayer, a reminder about All Souls Day and the focus on praying for All Souls during November, and a challenge to live each day saying "yes" to God as the Church Militant here on earth as we aim to become the Church Triumphant one day in Heaven.  Sometimes, I offer prayer cards or copywork for All Souls prayers.

At this point, I ask everyone to spend 10-15 minutes clearing their own things from the space, helping with any obvious clean up that has to be done, and, then, departing to a foyer, outside space, or parking lot unless they are on the final clean up crew.

In the last 15 minutes, a few volunteers stay behind to ensure that the space looks the same or better than when we arrived. And, with that, we call it another successful wrap!

If you need game ideas, be sure to look at all my past All Saints Day posts.

If you have questions about anything, just ask me on Facebook or leave a comment here.

I pray you have a blessed and beautiful All Saints Day!

Saints in Heaven, pray for us!


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