At holiday time, what could be better than snow-dusted evergreen trees, backyards blanketed in white, and afternoons filled with sledding, games, and mugs of hot chocolate? If you live in a snowy area, an outdoor party is sure to delight the neighborhood kids -- and their fun-loving parents too! Just bundle up, gather your gear, and get ready for a day of active play. No snow? Enjoy our tree-decorating ideas and yummy refreshments at an indoor lunch party.
Miniature trees are perfect for kids to decorate because they can do the entire job themselves. We chose tabletop-size artificial silver trees, which look pretty when displayed in the snow, and a variety of shiny ornaments. Mini trees also work well for carrying out a theme: You can fill the branches with, for example, Santas, teddy bears, stars, or candy canes.
Decorating a larger tree becomes extra-exciting when the homemade ornaments double as party favors. Individually wrap small toys (rubber balls, tiny stuffed animals, mini colored pencils), and place them inside kid-size socks and mittens. Thread yarn through the open end of the decorations and let guests hang them on the tree and then choose one to take home at the end of the party.
Snowshoe hikes and toboggan rides are snow-day staples, but kids will be doubly delighted to try a few unusual outdoor games -- like snow bowling! Find a flat spot to set up a lightweight plastic bowling set or 10 plastic bottles filled with frozen colored water, and let players take turns rolling the ball. Freeze tag takes on a new meaning when played in the snow, and kids can create a snow-angel chain by plopping side by side in fresh powder. For a fun-filled guessing game, press a few distinctively shaped items into the snow (a pinecone, a football, a toy car) and then remove them. Ask kids to try to identify each object from its imprint. For little artists, snow makes an irresistible canvas. Let them make splatter pictures by filling plastic spray bottles with water in a rainbow of colors. To heighten the merry mood, pop a holiday CD into a boom box or try to remember the words to "Frosty the Snowman" and "Let It Snow."
After all that exercise, little ones deserve a hearty lunch, and nothing's better than homemade chicken soup with rice and veggies. Instead of crackers, offer delicious mitten-shaped Parmesan toast, plus mugs of mouth-watering triple hot chocolate made with cocoa, mini chocolate chips, and whipped cream topped with shaved white chocolate. For dessert, roast marshmallows on a brick-enclosed campfire or backyard grill, then help kids put together adorable snowmen with mini-chocolate-candy faces and buttons and pretzel-stick arms.
At the end of the day, guests both young and old will be a little wet and more than a little tired -- but you can bet that everyone will have happy memories of this special holiday party in the snow.
Serves: 6Prep Time: 20 minutesCooking Time: 55 minutes
Step 1: In a large pot, simmer stock, onion, and celery for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cut thinly sliced carrot into star shapes with cookie cutter.
Step 2: Add chicken, rice, carrot stars, and peas. Simmer an additional 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.
Each Serving: 90 calories, 11 g protein, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (1 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 23 mg cholesterol, 27 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 112 mg sodium.
Makes: 8Prep Time: 5 minutesCooking Time: 10 minutes
Step 1: Cut bread into mitten shapes using a cookie cutter. Place mittens on a baking sheet and coat with Parmesan cheese.
Step 2: Bake mittens for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Toast pieces can be served warm or at room temperature.
Each Mitten: 115 calories, 6 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (2 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 5 mg cholesterol, 111 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 300 mg sodium.
Makes: 4Prep Time: 10 minutesCooking Time: 5 minutes
4 thin wooden branches, cleaned
12 large marshmallows
12 mini marshmallows
8 pretzel sticks
16 plain mini M&M's
Step 1: For each snowman, thread a branch through three large marshmallows so they're touching. To make arms, place a pretzel stick on the right and left sides of the middle marshmallow. Attach a small marshmallow to the ends of all the pretzels to make hands.
Step 2: Lightly toast marshmallows until golden. Arrange mini M&M's on the top marshmallow to make eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Remove branches before serving.
Each Snowman: 89 calories, 1 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 mg calcium, 0 mg iron, 31 mg sodium.
Serves: 6Prep Time: 5 minutesCooking Time: 10 minutes
Step 1: In a large pot, place milk over medium heat, stirring frequently, until small bubbles appear at sides of the pot. Add syrup; stir.
Step 2: Divide mixture among mugs and stir 1 Tbs. chocolate chips into each. Top with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings.
Each Serving: 239 calories, 7 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (5 g saturated), 1 g fiber, 13 mg cholesterol, 224 mg calcium, 1 mg iron, 132 mg sodium.
Copyright © 2003. Reprinted with permission from the December/January 2003 issue of Child Magazine.