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It’s finally here–what is likely to be your last classroom holiday party of the school year.  Whenever you’re planning any classroom party, there are three main things that you need to take into consideration. You need to know your students, you need to know yourself, and you need to know your resources.

The first thing that is important when party planning is knowing your students. There are many factors to this–behavior, the age of your students, the interests of your students, and if you have any special needs to consider. An example of behavior you may want to consider would be if you have students who are really competitive and if they’re not first or the winner or whatever, then they get very upset–that’s something to keep in mind. You wouldn’t want to plan a party with several win/lose types of games, because that would be likely to backfire in that situation.

You may want to instead play non-competitive games or activities, so as not to set those particular students off, whereas if you have a group that can get along well and understand that there’s a time for everybody to be a winner, then you can have some of that element of competition in some of your games or activities.

Another example that you want to consider would be students who may be affected by increased noise level. Let’s face it, emotions and energy in general tends to ramp up on party days. And you may have some students who are really affected by that noise level. And therefore, their behavior is affected.

You might also have students who don’t particularly get along. So you might want to think about if you need to have activities where they’re in separate spots or where they are just not in the same group for doing stations. 

Also important to having the best classroom party possible would be taking into consideration their interests. This is one of those things that can be a little bit more difficult because oftentimes what one group is really into another group isn’t quite so fond of, but there are those rare times when student interests seem to go across the board. For example, early in my teaching career I taught fourth grade and the Harry Potter books were still fairly newish, (I know for sure the whole series hadn’t come out yet, so this was definitely many years ago) we had a Harry Potter themed party. And that was something my whole group of students that year really enjoyed.. 

The last thing to think about when it comes to knowing your students is thinking about any special needs you may have. These can vary widely, from learning or behavior challenges to food allergies to cultural differences. All of these will factor into your decision making about the party.

Since this is a Valentine party, you probably already have a couple of class parties for the year under your belt. And more than likely, unless you have some really new students, you’re probably pretty aware of these things, but it is important to be aware of their impact on the decisions you make about the class party.

The next thing to think about when you’re planning a class party, besides knowing your students, is to know yourself, and you’ve got to do what feels right for you. For example–are you a person that wants to control every single aspect of the party right down to the last detail? Or are you more laid back and perfectly fine with letting someone else come in and take over? Do you want your party to be very regimented and scheduled? Or are you fine with having it be more open and free flowing? Do you want the party to be your responsibility and parents just send things in, or do you want the parents to take it over– plan it, run it, bring in all the materials needed–that sort of thing. Do you want a big giant elaborate event or are you okay with a “Netflix and chill” kind of thing. (A little side note to that, some of you may have heard about the big brouhaha with Disney suing teachers for public performance of their movies at school events. Our media specialist has told us for years that using your personal Netflix or your personal Disney plus, or your personal DVDs, things like that, are all against copyright law, so I am using the term “Netflix and chill” strictly as a euphemism for laid back here)

We talked about students who can get upset with noise levels. Maybe you’re a teacher who gets upset with noise levels. You don’t like it really loud and boisterous and active. You want something more calm and quiet and orderly and directed.  It’s kind of like that old saying, if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy– but in this case it is if the teacher’s not happy, nobody’s going to be happy, right? If you’re miserable doing a class party, then the kids are going to feel that, and they’re not going to have as much fun either. Everyone has to do what feels right for their personal teaching style.

The third thing that you need to take into consideration are your resources. And in this case,the resources that you are probably going to be considering are the resources of time, money and parent participation. When thinking about time as it relates to a party–think about when  the party is going to happen. Is it your choice when you have the party or does the school decide the time?

When it comes to money, do you have a budget? Is there PTA money or classroom money that you can use for your parties? Or is it whatever you have, the parents or you are bringing in. If you do have parent support, how much is going to be your responsibility and how much is going to be parent responsibility for this party.

Finally, when it comes to parents, you have to think about how much do you want them to be involved? Do you want them to just send some things in, do you want them to come in and help, but you’ve planned it or do you want them to control the whole show?

There’s no one right answer. I can’t tell you, this is the perfect formula for having the best party ever because these three factors are going to vary, not only from teacher to teacher, but classroom to classroom in year to year. Every year, you’re going to have to make this decision and decide what you have in mind for parties is going to work for this particular class.

And I’ve done it many different ways, depending what works best for the class. I’ve had years where I’ve had fantastic parents who just had these brilliant ideas that were better than anything I could have done. And the kids loved it– just absolutely loved it. And it was their chance to be able to get into the classroom and do something that was their gift or their talent. And I’ve had other years where we didn’t even have a tray of cookies sent in, so it was all completely on me. And I’ve also been a room mom where it was expected that the room moms planned, purchased, ran, cleaned up everything, sent the invitations out, everything for the party. 

When you’re thinking about having the most successful party, I hope these tips have helped. And like I said, I’ll come back and talk a little bit more about some specifics for Valentine’s day so that you can have the best party ever. If you’re looking for the best place to get all the greatest tips and ideas for your classroom, consider joining our Facebook group,  Happy Classroom Collective. We’d love to have you join if you’re not already a member!