Hot Chocolate Bar
There was a hot chocolate bar. For a backdrop, a cardboard box from my husband's latest too-enormous-to-admit-to electronic purchase was covered with a white sheet. I put up big black and white signs here to make it feel like a coffee shop. For the hot choc table I wanted it to have a candyland look. I used a 2'x3' sheet of plastic (the kind used for florescent light covers), it was dappled and looked like ice, so I draped it over a cake stand to appear like an ice slide. Add three more cake stands and some candy colored dishes, sprinkle the whole works with coconut and mints and have my activity day girls stack up the peppermint oreos prettily. Candycanes in cups, LOADS of marshmallows, and gingerbread man cookies.
The above isn't my photo- I just had a similar poster sign that said, "Baby it's cold outside" in a really kitchy font.
We borrowed two 5 gallon coolers to hold the hot chocolate. Method: fill half way with hot tap water. Boil a bigsilverpot worth of water and add this then mix in two costco 39-serving cans of nestle hot choc mix. Stir.
At the front near the stage, we set up a campfire. A strand of twinkle lights with red and yellow cellophane wrapping bunched around and logs framing the whole works. Before the musical program began, the children were invited to grab blankets and nestle around the fire. This was strategically done to get all the little ones together so we could shush them as a group. I know, evil, fun squashing, conniving mom. But give me some cool points for totally risking a mini mosh pit if the shushing had failed.
Tables were wrapped in white craft paper (I buy the stuff at garage sales and, weird, but seem to find an enormous roll once a summer- it keeps us in pictionary fodder for years to come. Anyway, that was to say that I have zero idea how much it costs or where it retails). I cut a roll of red wrapping paper into thirds and laid this down the center of every table. Then garland went down the center and candle powered tea lights hummed out visual elegance for the bargain price of $8/ dozen on Amazon. The YMYW and the primary are all going to use the candles in the next few weeks for caroling, so I splurged on 48 and figure they'll be well used. I supplied another 40 from my personal stash. Nearly 100 candles.
Twinkle Lights on the Ceiling
I need a good kick in the seat for not getting a better picture of the starry night. It took about 20 strands. The trick to making it work was tying a string from basketball hoop to basketball hoop. This took some of the weight off my lights so they wouldn't break AND got them up high enough. Nothing ruins a good party like a near decapitation.
How lights were done: test lights first. Tie rope from hoop to hoop- tight. There are 4 outlets, plan accordingly. We started at outlet and went up dividing room into 4ths. I had 4 big stars on walls that took up any extra lights so there wouldn't be any big pools of cord. I needed 6 extra extension cords and I duct taped cords to the wall and to the outlets. Gym is roughly 30'x 60'. There are eyehooks in the wall about 9.5' high, maybe 24 of them, 12 on each side.
We made these stars out of white paper:
and these stars out of the big tongue depressor popsicle sticks so they were over 2' tall. here's a tutorial
for 150-200 people we bought 10 costco lasagna's and had people heat them up (takes 2 hours) and bring them hot. All families were asked to bring a dessert to share. We had 15 bagged garlic breads that we heated in the church oven. Kitchen work took two dedicated workers the whole time. I was not expecting that and had planned this event hoping that no one would have kitchen duty.
Broccoli Christmas tree platters took 6 heads of broccoli per platter. Arrange in triangle shape, surround with carrots. Fill shallow plastic cups with ranch for a snowy base, white plastic spoons below that for more snow. Star topper on the tree was sliced yellow peppers. And finally, licorice whips draped back and forth like tinsel. (grape tomatoes were out of our budget at last minute)
The first hour we had 10 kids playing background music. These were the younger kids, they got to be on the stage, they got an audience but not an expectant crowd. And the crowd got to mingle and eat and be noisy while the parent's of the performer could smile and clap. The last hour we had a musical program. This was done by the older kids, all the volunteers were ridiculously talented. There were cellos and flute quartets and piano concertos and it was impressive. The littlest children sang and that always makes a church party and then the final exhibit of the day was...
the reenactment of the nativity.
Tara did this and WOW, I don't even know what to say about the level of amazingness that runs around around in this girl's mind. She came up with this shadow projection depiction of the nativity story. Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, being turned away at the inn, the shepherds and the kings coming to see the baby. She set the whole thing to Farvre's Requiem. And the doozy is that she did this with like an hour of practice and figuring. She just threw it together. She is my idol. So, my iphone filming is crappy, the shadow actors had no practice time, and there were the usual technical difficulties that find their way into ward parties- look right past those distractions and this is crazy impressive.
More boring details that I don't want to have to figure out ever again: I started with 5 big long rectangle tables for food (3 for main, 1 for hot choc bar, 1 for desserts) and 12 big rectangle tables for seating. Here's the seating plan I was going for:
We ended up having to rush add 4 more enormous rectangle tables and 3 big ol circle tables. Quick figuring is 12 chairs on each length of 3xtables= 100 chairs for my original plan and maybe 50 extra that had to be dug up and added last minute.
other things I would do next time:
- xmas trees made of wrapping garland around upside down tomato cages
- giant candies made by wrapping colored cellophane around twinkle lights
- lite brite masterpieces done by families, lining entry hall
- wrapping tomato cages in silver fringe xmas trees